The Alphabet Soup of Financial Advisor Designations

I’ve compiled a list of 20 of the most common financial advisor designations and thrown them into a navigable mind map. Just click on a designation to see what it stands for. When you want to zoom back out, just click on some white-space around the objects (as far to the edges of the window as you can).


To use the map, first click on the “play” button to activate it. To make it easier to see, I recommend switching to the full screen mode which can be accessed under the “MORE” option on the bottom right.

If anyone has suggestions for other designations to add, just let me know and I’ll add them to the map. I plan on updating this with more detailed information in stages such as: brief study description, cost of program, and general description of the benefits of each designation.


Preet Banerjee
Preet Banerjee an independent consultant to the financial services industry and a personal finance commentator. You can learn more about Preet at his personal website and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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Showing 11 comments
  • Mark Wolfinger

    I have a suggestion for one more:

    WMFNY; I want my fees. Nuts to you.

  • Big Cajun Man

    How about

    WTFDMMG: Where the Fudge Did My Money Go?
    CILHTF : Caught in Leg Hold Trap Fund
    YMMV : Your Money May Vanish

    I got a million :-)

  • Cam Birch

    That is a really good collection of designations. It’ll help in the future so I can make sure any FP I talk to actually has a real title and not just a random collection of letters.

  • Erick

    I like the mind map concept…any chance you could also add what courses/requirements are needed for each designation?

  • The Rat

    How about:

    DIYI – Do it yourself investor!
    ATFF – All those freaking fees!
    FARF – Forget about returns forever!

  • H

    Great post Preet.

    To be fair, there are great advisors out there with or without the alphabet soup. Preet was one of them.

    CIPM – Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement
    MTI – Member, Trust Institute
    STI – Specialist, Trust Institute

  • Michael James

    I just see a large white space where the map is supposed to be. Maybe some sort of security software is cleverly filtering out the map. I’m using Firefox and McAfee.

  • Ink-Stained Gorilla

    Unfortunately a line of letters after the name is not a good predictor of an advisor’s competence.

    Two designations, the little-known R.F.P. for financial planning and the CFA for portfolio management will ensure your advisor has the technical competence to offer you good advice – whether they actually do offer good advice is another story.

    The CFA is essentially a three year graduate degree in portfolio management. It’s the best investment designation out there. Brutal to obtain due to relatively high level math and a massive amount of content candidates have to absorb for the three levels of exams.

    The R.F.P. is like an amped up certified financial planning designation offered through the Institute of Advanced Financial Planning. Candidates actually have to pass a full-financial planning case study to obtain the designation. Many of the country’s strongest fee-only proponents are champions of this designation.

    I neither hold nor am I affiliated with these designations, but I can attest to the general quality of the professionals that hold them.

  • Alex Norman

    Creative and informative! Preet this map is adorable! Looking forward for the updates.

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