Financial Designations

Decoding financial advisor designations and certifications


Confused about what seem like secret codes following the names of financial professionals? We’ve decoded some of the most common financial certifications and what each represents.


Those with the CFP® certification have completed studies on topics including stocks, bonds, taxes, insurance, retirement planning and estate planning. They also agree to uphold CFP® board’s Code of Ethics, complete experience requirements and more.

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ CFP® (with flame design) and CFP® (with plaque design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.

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ChFC® – Chartered Financial Consultant®

Individuals with the ChFC designation have demonstrated their thorough knowledge of financial planning. They usually have at least three years’ experience in a financial industry position as well as pass an exam covering income tax, insurance, investment and estate planning topics.

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CFA® - Chartered Financial Analyst®

A CFA® has passed rigorous exams covering topics such as portfolio management, asset valuation and more. They typically have a strong foundation of advanced investment analysis

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CFS® – Certified Fund Specialist®

The CFS designation is awarded to individuals who have demonstrated knowledge in the mutual fund industry. They are required to complete a program that covers advanced topics in fund analysis and selection, asset allocation and portfolio construction.

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CIMA® – Certified Investment Management Analyst®

Financial professionals with the CIMA designation have attained a level of competency as an advanced investment consultant. They usually have at least three years professional experience, pass a certification exam and complete an executive education program.

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Professionals pursuing a designation and/or certification commit to hours of study, proficiency and high professional and ethical standards in order to provide the knowledge , service and experience you deserve on your financial journey.


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