The Credentials Game

Don’t get fooled by the following impressive-sounding credentials:

  • Certified Senior Adviser
  • Certified Retirement Financial Adviser
  • Certified Retirement Counselor
  • Registered Financial Gerontologist

They may look good, but they only take a few days to earn. In contrast, these credentials require a college degree and years of study:

  • Certified Financial Planner
  • Chartered Financial Consultant
  • Master of Science in Financial Services (MSFS)

In 2011, so many broker-dealer firms were using misleading designations that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority issued Regulatory Notice 11-52 cautioning about the practice.   In 2013, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Office of Older Americans reported that there are more than 50 senior certification designations now in use.

The name-game isn’t limited to financial advisers. It seems as if everyone involved in the senior market has added a credential or two to the business card.

If you are presented with a card and a sales pitch, ask these questions:

  • What do the initials stand for?
  • What organization accredited you?
  • What is the name of the website?
  • What were the requirements to become accredited?

(Not only will you sound smart, it may just keep you from getting scammed)

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