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Island Investing

Riffs, rants, and the upside of investing from way off Wall Street


“Is Your Advisor Pumping Up His Credentials?”

That’s the title of this article in the WSJ. Here’s a snapshot for anyone else out there that has Financial Advisor Acronym Fatigue:

Just when Americans seem more desperate than ever for trustworthy investment advice, financial advisers are brandishing a baffling array of new credentials—some of which can be earned with minimal or no study and a few hundred dollars.

Increasingly, say regulators, financial advisers are using these dubious designations as marketing tools to win the trust of older, wealthier clients, in hopes of selling high-fee investments that aren’t appropriate for them.

“State securities regulators have been very worried about this,” says Denise Voigt Crawford, securities commissioner for the state of Texas and past president of the North American Securities Administrators Association. “We are taking a growing number of administrative actions against people using designations as part and parcel of fraudulent securities activities, especially with older people.”

Rest of the article is here. Good snapshot in this graphic, too:

And here’s a list of a hundred or so acronyms financial advisers use and what they mean.

How can you ensure your adviser is credible? I’d start with FINRA’s BrokerCheck. A link is here and in the Links menu at right, too.

I’m also of the belief that investors can pretty quickly gauge an adviser’s character by asking one key question upfront:

“How exactly do you invest your money?”