Choosing the Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) ® Designation or the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) ® Certification
Certified Financial Planner (CFP)® is often touted as the premier designation for financial advisors, largely due to an aggressive marketing strategy. Yet, as someone who chose to pursue the Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)® designation, I have always felt that both are invaluable in serving clients comprehensively. This belief has only been reinforced as McBeath Financial Group has grown, especially with the addition of two outstanding advisors who hold the CFP® designation.
Assessing Qualifications and Expertise
I consider both the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) and the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designations to be held in the highest regard and most valuable for offering financial planning advice. In a financial field where nearly anyone can refer to themselves as financial advisors or financial planners, not all are equally qualified. The arduous coursework and testing required for both the ChFC® and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certifications establish those who earn these designations as experts in the field. Insurance agents, investment advisor representatives, and brokers lacking these credentials haven't completed the rigorous coursework and testing that prove their expertise.
The Importance of Certification in Retirement Planning
When it comes to retirement planning, I felt it was critical to meet the high standards set by these certifications. My clients have worked their entire lives and made sacrifices to save for their retirement. They place their hard-earned money and trust in my hands for their future. I owe it to them to prove that I'm worthy by earning such prestigious certifications.
Coursework and Continuing Education
Both the ChFC® and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designations have similar course studies that include basic financial planning, insurance planning, income taxation, retirement planning, investments, and estate planning fundamentals. Each also has a mandatory exam after each course and continuing education requirements of 30 hours every two years, along with a mandatory ethics class.
Ethical Considerations: Fiduciary vs Suitability
These designations are also held to a fiduciary standard by their respective issuing bodies, meaning they are bound to put their clients' best interests above their own. This is in contrast to other financial advisors and insurance agents who may operate based on a “suitability” standard.
History and Numbers: A Comparative Analysis
While the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ is issued by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, founded in 1985, the ChFC® comes from The American College of Financial Services, established in 1927. The courses are very similar, but the ChFC® requires two additional college-level courses focusing on specific personal finance topics. Though both designations have large numbers of holders, the ChFC® is a more elite group with only 55,000 designation holders, compared to 78,000 CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals.
My Personal Journey and Philosophy
What attracted me to the ChFC® program was its thorough curriculum. Chartered Financial Consultants® live by a philosophy that investments are components in an overall financial strategy, not solutions in themselves. This knowledge has been key to implementing comprehensive financial strategies over the years and helping my clients pursue their long-term goals.
Team Growth and Diverse Expertise
As McBeath Financial Group has grown, I've had the privilege of adding two Certified Financial Planners™ to the team: Zack Brewer and Julie Karstens. Their commitment to ethical, comprehensive planning complements the philosophy we've built at the firm. By investing in talented professionals with diverse designations, we've enhanced our ability to serve a broad array of client needs, making us a stronger, more versatile financial advisory practice.
Best Choice for Serving Our Clients
I initially intended to add the CFP® designation to my own credentials but chose instead to focus on expanding the business and serving our clients more effectively. This doesn't negate the value of either designation but emphasizes that both paths offer the educational foundation needed to serve our clients effectively.
Client-Centric Approach: The Ultimate Goal
Ultimately, whether your advisor is a CFP® or a ChFC®, what matters most is the personalized advice and strategies they can provide. At McBeath Financial Group, we're proud to offer the expertise that comes with both designations, ensuring our clients receive the highest quality of financial planning services.
Krista McBeath is an Investment Advisor, Chartered Financial Consultant, a Licensed Insurance Advisor, a Fiduciary, and an experienced tax advisor who specializes in financial planning, investments, and insurance. She utilizes advanced tools for in-depth calculations that analyze tax and retirement scenarios to help her clients avoid a future tax time-bomb. Whether this means enjoying more of your hard-earned money in retirement or passing along assets to loved ones with less tax burden, planning makes the difference.
Her Amazon best-selling book, The Generational Wealth System outlines a holistic approach to preserving lifestyle, wealth and legacy.