Adding a few letters to your business card can be remarkably rewarding in multiple ways. Determine the best certification by reviewing your career goals. Whether your objectives include gaining more clients, a better job, or both, certifications in the financial world distinguish competency and professionalism.
These three or four letters flash your commitment to excellence. Some major benefits include:
- positive attention from human resources when looking for a job
- higher annual compensation than non-certified competitors
- valuable sales and marketing impact and exposure
1. CPAThe Certified Public Accountant designation remains the most widely distributed financial credential in the United States. The Certified Public Accountant (CPA) must pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination. Each state has different requirements. In general, the future CPA must have a bachelor's degree and 150 undergraduate hours to take the two-day exam.
As a highly respected designation in business and the financial world, CPAs:
- publicly attest to financial statements and opinions
- perform the audit function along with public attestation (in most states)
- possess tax expertise
As one of the most recognized certifications in financial planning, Certified Financial Planners (CFPs) work in client financial planning roles. Board-certified CFPs receive education in investment and estate planning, insurance, education, and taxes. They research, compare, organize, and create investment plans. CFP® designation remains the most frequent choice of those in the tax, investment and legal professions. While some employers generically refer to Financial Industry Regulatory Authority FINRA-registered financial salespeople as "financial advisors", these persons are not Certified Financial Planners (CFPs).
3. Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
Chartered Financial Analysts (CFAs) work on both buy- and sell-sides of the financial market place. Rigorous academic requirements accord CFAs with respect and prestige in the financial community. (Academic requirements for the CPA, however, remain the most intensive.) CFAs receive education in financial accounting, portfolio analysis, fundamental and technical financial analysis, and investment and trading theory.