The most commonly held professional designation is the certified financial planner (CFP®), which is owned and issued by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc., a nonprofit certifying and standards-setting organization that administers the CFP exam. Certified financial planner is a formal credential of expertise in the areas of financial planning, taxes, insurance, estate planning, and retirement. The designation is awarded to individuals who successfully complete the CFP® Board’s initial exams, then engage in ongoing annual education programs to maintain their skills and certification.
 Investment advisors who work with retirement accounts are now held to the Department of Labor (DOL) fiduciary standard. These advisors must disclose all fees and conflicts of interest. They cannot recommend products that represent a conflict within retirement accounts. In other accounts, RIAs can recommend products that represent a conflict as long as they disclose the conflict first.
A financial planner is a qualified investment professional who helps individuals and corporations meet their long-term financial objectives. Financial planners do their work by consulting with clients to analyze their goals, risk tolerance, and life or corporate stages, then identify a suitable class of investments for them. From there they may set up a program to help the client meet those goals by distributing their available savings into a diversified collection of investments designed to grow or provide income, as desired.
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