How Many Designations Do You Have and Why Did You Decide to Pursue Them?

The FPA Community Weighs in...

Next Generation Planner: September 2021


“CSRIC. After getting licensed, I knew I wanted to know more about sustainable investing. The designation was just an added bonus to the learning.”

Kristen Heller, CSRIC
Financial Planner/Financial Adviser, Baystate Financial


“I have CFP® and CRPS from decades ago. My non-letters include a certificate in financial life planning from Golden Gate University  that was amazing, and I learn from the coffee chats with [the Financial Therapy Association] (FTA) and from the Klontz Executive Circle. I have a list of extra letters to consider getting (like FBS and AFC).”

Elana Feinsmith, CFP®, CRPS
Financial Coach and Owner, Oak Financial Coaching


“I have the CFP® designation and am seeking the AFC. If you love learning, pursue learning and what makes sense for your career development and the clients you like to work with at that stage of your career.”

Elizabeth Wolleben Yoder, CFP®
Director of Financial Planning, Planning Across the Spectrum


“I have: CFP®, ChFC, CLU, MSFS, CAP, RICP, CDFA, EA. I think the ones that have been most beneficial for me are the CFP® (really, just table stakes), MSFS, CDFA, and EA. While the EA did help expand my expertise in taxes, it really opened up new sources of revenue like actually being able to provide tax advice and representing clients in front of the IRS. I was already doing tax prep for my clients.”

Jim Allen, CFP®, ChFC, EA, CDFA
President and Senior Advisor, Anchor Bay Capital, Inc.


“For someone new to the profession, the CFP® mark is table stakes at this point. Past that, find what you want to do and get educated in it. Clients don’t [care] about designations. They don’t recognize anything past the CFP® and CPA certifications, so have fun when it comes to designations. Learn about whatever you enjoy. Professionally, a master’s can be helpful, though.

“Personally, I have the CFP®, CAP, APMA, CRPC, and an MSAFP. I’m two-thirds through the EA exams as well. I’ll probably drop the APMA and CRPC soon enough; they don’t really add anything for me. I enjoy planned giving and tax planning, so the CAP and EA make sense. I’m not sure what I’ll do next; maybe something with equity planning. I’m not really worried about letters at this point—I’m more worried about what knowledge I gain.”

Jeb Jarrell, CFP®, CAP, CRPC, APMA
Principal, Plentiful Wealth


“I have the CFP® mark and did BFA (Behavioral Financial Adviser) with Kaplan. In 2020, I went through The Life Coach School for certification. Lately, being a Certified Life Coach has helped a lot!”

Misty Lynch, CFP®
Director of Financial Planning, Beck Bode


“I have my CFP® mark, as I felt it was the most well-respected designation in the industry. I’m looking to get my EA soon because of how much the tax component is intertwined in financial planning.”

Jason Kane, CFP®
Wealth Manager, Kane Company, P.C.


“I hold one designation now, CFP®, and I am hoping to start the MSFP program at Golden Gate University soon. I pursued the CFP® mark because I wanted to move up from my first banking job and to be able to help people with personal financial planning. I have been inquiring about pursuing an MSFP degree to become a better and more confident financial adviser.”

Cary W. Tucker, CFP®


CFP®: Obvious gold standard for basic financial planning competence. Is it worth it? No. ChFC: You get folks with the ChFC who say it’s just as good as the CFP®, so I thought I’d look over the fence and see. It’s more education but far less rigorous. Is it worth it? Not unless you’re disqualified from the CFP® for some other reason.

“AIF: I wanted to gain education on the laws around fiduciary asset management and investment advice, and to get a better perspective on how to develop and deliver that service, particularly considering that the CFP® designation relies almost entirely on disclosure to maintain its fiduciary obligation rather than prevention or method. Unintentionally gained more knowledge in 3(21)/3(38) services. Is it worth it? Perhaps. It’s best if you deal with a lot of trusts or ERISA plans, but less useful if you only do individual finance.

“CDFA: I was dealing with more divorce client referrals and wanted to ensure I was completely educated on how to handle divorcing clients. Is it worth it? Yes, if you’re dealing with divorcing clients. The CFP® mark does not give you enough education on the subject.”

Daniel M. Yerger, CFP®, ChFC, AIF, CDFA
President, MY Wealth Planners

General Financial Planning Principles
Career stage
Learning / Aspiring