Financial planners, advisers, etc.


Q. Do financial planners have to be accredited? Do they have to be certified, registered by states and/or do they have to take courses like accountants do to keep up with the latest information? What about testing? How do I learn about a financial planner’s experience, etc. What is a financial services adviser — just what the title says, advises you about your finances? Is there a site that checks for any complaints and/or if a person really is accredited or does he/she have a degree? What is required to become a financial planner?

A. Anyone can call themselves a financial planner. There is no accreditation required. There is no special certification or registration required. There are no continuing education or testing requirements. You learn about a financial planner’s experience by interviewing them. The title “Financial Services Adviser” has no fixed meaning, but usually means “saleperson.” There is no easy and reliable way to ensure that a financial planner is competent, honest and reliable. The only thing required to become a financial planner is the willingness to call yourself one. The Certified Financial Planner license is currently the highest standard for financial planning professionals, but it is a voluntary trademark use license issued by a private entity and does not guarantee quality. For example, many securities salespeople carry this license. I hope you will encourage your elected officials to support the regulation of financial planning as a profession, along with law, accounting and medicine.


About Author

Mike Miles is a Certified Financial Planner licensee and principal adviser for Variplan LLC, an independent fiduciary in Vienna, Virginia. Email your financial questions to and view his blog at


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  4. I am still in shock at the information that was given about financial planners etc. Anyone can call themselves a financial services adviser, planner without any experience, background requirements ect. I gues the best thing to do is to go to a Certified Public Account, Estate, Tax lawyer, or get your state officals to support regulation of financial planners just like accountants etc. I suggest that you do your research yourself. Take classes in accounting, finances, taxes, estate planning, and stocks, bonds etc. You need to educate yourself instead of always paying someone to do your work for you. I guess just because someone gives themselves a title and prints out business cards doesn’t mean that they know what they are doing.

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