Who: This is for the people who are confused by all the different financial designations given to various financial professionals.
What: This post is just a simple list of some of the common financial designations and what they represent.

Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

A Certified Financial Planner is a financial advisor that has completed a very extensive curriculum in finance covering insurance, risk management, asset allocation, and much more. CFP’s are required to complete continuing education courses every few years to keep their skills and knowledge up to date and are required to pass a very difficult examination to earn their designation. This designation has become more and more popular in recent years and can be considered a minimum requirement for a quality financial advisor.

Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

A Certified Public Accounting is required to have some sort of degree in account and pass a rigorous 4 part examination that is extensive and difficult. Many are familiar with this designation as your tax preparer, if you have hired one, probably has a CPA. While accounting (duh) and tax issues are the major focus of accountants, they do have a background in other financial services.

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

Chartered Financial Analysts are not required to have strict guidelines in what they have studied, but are required to pass three examinations in order to obtain their charter. From speaking to people in the industry, I have found that many of them regard the three CFA examinations as among the hardest exams to pass in the financial industry. The CFA exams cover a variety of topics including, but not limited to accounting, asset allocation, valuation, and ethics. This is a very popular designation for many asset managers and portfolio consultants.

Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA)
The CIMA designation is given by the Investment Management Consultants Association. This designation requires coursework and an examination in investment analysis and other related fields. Additionally, 3+ years experience in investment consulting is required to receive this designation.

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