PA NC: Making Your Designation(s) Work

Plan sponsors and participants may not appreciate what specific adviser designations mean, but designations can still be useful for a retirement plan adviser’s business.

Because most sponsors and participants do not understand specific designations, panel member Barnaby W. Horton, Assistant VP of Merrill Lynch Global Private Client Group, speaking at PLANADVISER’s National Conference in Orlando, Florida, said he incorporates an explanation of his designations in his marketing materials. He said advisers should get designations that show clients they are focused on a specialized space in the market.

A designation should be practical, helping an adviser grow business. According to panel member Gregg Andonian, Accredited Investment Fiduciary of Bayside 401(k) Advisors, an NRP Member Firm, designations should parallel with an adviser’s business model or focus. He said a good designation delivers processes for advisers to use in their businesses.

Advisers should also be warned that legislation focused on retirement planning designations is coming. Horton pointed out that legislation currently pending in Massachusetts dictates that those with designations identified as dealing with retirement or labeled Elder, Chartered, or Specialist, among others, will be audited by a state regulator, something that might become more prevalent as other states look to the possibility of similar legislation (see Target Market).