Are investment advisers required to have credentials?

While some investment advisers and financial planners have credentials -- such as CFP® certification or CFA (chartered financial analyst) -- no state or federal law requires these credentials. Many states require advisers to pass a proficiency exam or meet other requirements.

Investment advisers and financial planners may come from many different educational and professional backgrounds. Before you hire a financial professional, be sure to ask about their background. If they have a credential, ask them what it means and what they had to do to earn it. Also, find out what organization issued the credential, and then contact the organization to verify whether the professional you're considering did, in fact, earn the credential and whether the professional remains in good standing with the organization. For information on various financial professional credentials and the entities that issue them, please visit FINRA's website and read Understanding Financial Professional Designations.

Conclusion For more information about choosing investment advisers see Get the Facts: The SEC's Roadmap to Saving and InvestingInvest WiselyAdvice from your Securities Regulators and Ask Questions.