CFP? CFA? ChFC? Huh??

Sandy Balick of Consensus Point Mediation LLC ( provides some guidance on choosing a financial advisor.So you’ve read the recommended readings in my last blog and it’s time to move forward with a plan. Often, this will entail working with a broker, investment adviser, etc. You probably discovered there are many out there and, should you wish to work with one, how do you go about the daunting task of selecting one?

The names on the cards of many of these counselors are frequently trailed by certain initials. They are intended to convey that the individual has been certified, usually after having taken specialized education and testing, to have a certain additional financial expertise. Common designations include the CFP (Certified Financial Planner), CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst), and the ChFC (Chartered Financial Consultant) to name but several. (Go to Investopedia to learn more about these and other popular designations.)

Sorting all this out is hard but, like so many other things, asking friends for referrals is a good way to start. Second, interview several – it’s a personal service business – there’s expertise, track record and, importantly, chemistry to consider.

  • What resources do these advisors have access to?
  • Are they promising results that sound too good to be true?
  • Are they willing to speak of the downs as well as the ups?
  • Do they bring a long-term focus to things? (this is generally desirable)
  • Were they patient in answering your questions? (the ones you knew to ask because you read the materials recommended in my last blog)
  • Are these advisors compensated by commissions or fees? How are these figured and are there transaction charges in addition to these fees?

Online resources provided by a number of investment houses offer several levels of assistance. Many have sexy online graphs that help convey the excitement of the markets. The allure of these features should not be allowed to distract you from the necessity to adhere to good investing fundamentals (things like diversification, a long-term investing orientation). Be mindful that outside of bank savings accounts, investments are uninsured. Life insurance and annuities may have an important role in your investment mix, but be sure you understand the features and corresponding costs of these investments.

I’m no expert but these are the consistent themes you’ll find from many solid sources. And this is important too: a good helping of luck!

Sanford (Sandy) Balick, Attorney & Mediator, NY Sandy Balick signature
Sanford E. Balick, Esq.
Founder & Principal Mediator
Consensus Point Mediation, LLC.

Phone: (646) 340-3434
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