Consumers Value Advisers' Certifications, Training, Experience

When choosing an adviser, consumers report placing high value on knowledge, including the type of advice an adviser provides, their education, and years of training.

Consumers look at certifications, training and experience as they seek an adviser who will understand and offer guidance on all their financial needs. In a survey of consumers with more than $100,000 in investable assets, nearly 90% see a potential adviser’s certifications as important, 86% would prefer working with an adviser who has passed a certification exam and has completed a course of education, and 82% say it is important for a potential adviser to discuss training and certifications.

The Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Board of Standards survey revealed that nearly three-fourths (72%) say they expect a financial adviser to receive one to four years of training in financial planning, while another two-thirds (65%) say they would abandon or not engage an adviser whose knowledge and training is limited largely to his or her company’s products or services.

“This survey tells us that firms need to rethink their training models to incorporate financial planning competency from the beginning of a new adviser’s training program – not three to four years into their career,” says Joseph Maugeri, CFP board’s managing director of marketing and corporate relations. “The days of ‘learning on the job’ seem to not apply anymore when it comes to what competencies consumers now expect of their financial advisers.”

Consumers value advisers with diversified knowledge, as more than 80% prefer to work with an adviser who is qualified to review all areas of their financial life rather than someone who specializes in one or two subject areas. Additionally, 48% say that knowledge of multiple financial areas is most important to them when choosing a financial professional, compared with an adviser’s investment track record (31%) or personal referrals (18%).

The Investor Preferences in Selecting a Financial Advisor survey was conducted November 20-23 involving a sample of 850 investors 18 years of age or older.