Smart physician investors realize that the constraints on their time make it necessary to build a strong team of experts to help with wealth management. One of the difficulties of this process is being lost in an alphabet soup of acronyms. According to US News and World Report, the Financial Regulatory Authority (FINRA) acknowledges over 200 professional designations and certifications. And here’s a fun fact, 121 of these start with the letter C.
You know what a certified public accountant (CPA) is, but what about the rest? A pairing often mixed up by people who are not part of the financial planning realm are CFP and CFA. Here’s what you need to know about these two very different, but highly trained financial professionals.
Chartered financial analyst (CFA). In simple terms, a CFA can be described as a financial analyst who focuses on investment management. Through their coursework and training they become prepared to handle credit analysis, trading, accounting, auditing, and financial planning. According to Smart Asset, in order to achieve this designation a person must have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience, must pass three six-hour exams on topics including economics, corporate finance, equity investment management strategies, and analysis. You would want to work with a CFA if your primary objective is to evaluate securities and construct wealth management through a thriving portfolio.
Certified financial planner (CFP). As the name suggests, a CFP is primarily concerned with financial planning. Although this sounds like a CFA’s objective, the distinction is that a CFP is focused on the complete and individualized financial picture of a client. Like a CFA, a CFP also requires a bachelor’s degree and intensive financial coursework. Two three-hour exam sessions must be completed and passed and cover a range of topics including education planning, insurance planning, retirement planning, estate planning, and more.
Although each of these professionals are excellent members of a financial planning team, most physician investors are interested working with a CFP, whereas corporations, mutual fund managers, and other business entities may seek out a CFA. Either way, it is important to know what skill sets are developed through these certification processes to find the best fit for your needs.