There are a lot of financial advisors in the market. It’s a crowded field. Lately, the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation has transitioned from a “nice to have” credential to quickly become the minimum standard for many financial advisors. But, while it’s great to have earned it, having those coveted “CFP” letters is no longer the differentiator that it once was. So, what comes after your CFP? How do you stand out in a field that’s already crowded with talented financial planners?
One way to set yourself apart is to find a niche in the financial planning field to specialize in for your local area. Most advisors can do that with more education and additional credentials. There are a host of financial planning designations after the CFP that you can earn – CLU, CLTC, CFA- and the list goes on and on. It’s a greater alphabet soup of letters than ever before. But should you take the plunge and put in the extra work? Is it worth earning some of them? What about niche certifications like CDFA, CExP, ChSNC, or ADPA? Below, we’ll address some common concerns.
Why Get a Post-CFP Designation?
Getting another designation after your CFP sets you apart from other financial advisors. Not only does it increase your knowledge in a specific area, but it also shows potential clients that you’re serious about your chosen profession. Having these designations provides you with instant credibility with your customers and demonstrates your added expertise.
Lawyers and doctors specialize in their practices. Why shouldn’t financial advisors? Specializing in a particular field can help you get referrals and find new clients. It can also take your financial advisory business into new areas not already flooded by a sea of other advisors.
Being a mile wide and an inch deep isn’t always the best tactic. If you want to stand out as a blogger or podcaster nowadays, you have to have a niche. Having a small niche of the market is a great secret to success in most professions, including financial planning.
Who’s your target audience? How specific do you get when you envision your ideal customer? Finding a niche and then positioning yourself as that specific area’s expert will help you hone in on your most desirable clientele. While you may end up limiting the pool of specific customers that feed your desired demographic, you’ll end up with ravenous fans who are members of your “tribe.” Those fans are the ones who’ll buy your product or service, almost without fail. Adding additional designations allows you to begin positioning yourself as the true “expert” in your field.
What Programs Are Available After the CFP Designation?
Post-CFP certification and educational programs aim to make financial advisors experts on subject matters like life insurance, retirement planning, wealth management and a host of other financial planning specialties.
Additional certifications can help you increase your expertise in a particular area of financial planning. Are you weak in a certain field and want to improve? Or, are you looking to find a niche to conquer and serve in your local area? Adding certifications and moving your practice toward a particular clientele group or niche, can help differentiate yourself from the sea of CFPs.
So where do you start? Below, you’ll find a quick list of just a few of the many programs that are available. These designations run the gamut of financial planning, insurance, wealth management, investments and retirement planning to niche educational programs for working with divorcees, the elderly, the LGBT community and a host of other specific demographics.
• Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU)
• Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU)
• Certified in Long-Term Care Insurance (CLTC)
• Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP)
• Retirement Management Analyst (RMA)
• Registered Financial Gerontologist (RFG)
• Accredited Estate Planner (AEP)
• Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP)
Taxation Designation and Licenses
• Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
• Enrolled Agent (EA)
• Certified Tax Specialist (CTS)
Niche Educational Programs and Designations
• Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA)
• Accredited Domestic Partnership Advisor (ADPA)
• Certified Exit Planner (CExP)
• Chartered Special Needs Consultant (ChSNC)
The next steps in finding your specialization depend on your career and professional goals. You don’t have to become lost in a sea of CFPs in your local area. By obtaining additional designations and finding your niche, you can stand out and set yourself apart from the competition.
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