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Financial Planning > College Planning

New site demystifies financial designations

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The American College has launched a new Web site aimed at helping consumers make sense of the “alphabet soup” of designations for financial advisors. provides consumers with extended descriptions of the most common designations and tips on how to select a financial advisor. There are also search tools for finding credentialed advisors, focusing on the “big three” financial planning marks: CLU, CFP and ChFC. The goal is to help consumers distinguish the difference between the rigorous credentials earned from universities and institutions and those quickly earned through one-day seminars.

“At any time, but especially now in an erratic economy, there is an inherent lack of trust in insurance and financial planners,” says Larry Barton, Ph.D., CAP, president and CEO of The American College. “While no credential such as a CPA or CLU guarantees superb advice, we know for a fact that those with these designations are more likely to ensure sound and unbiased planning and that they have completed a course of study that took years and numerous exams to complete.”

There are more than 300 financial designations available, Barton says, and some of them can be completed in just one day of study, often with an unlicensed organization. includes information on each conferring organization’s educational and experience requirements, codes of ethics, examinations, continuing education requirements and accreditation. Nonprofits that would like to have their credential listed can submit a request via the Feedback section on the site.

“While FINRA and a few other sites provide lists of popular designations, there is no other site that provides as much detailed information for consumers about what each credential represents,” Barton says. “We believe it is critical for families to have this tool available free of charge, so they are able to choose their advisors carefully and with full information about their qualifications.”


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