Designations = Alphabet Soup

Jacqui McFarlane, CFP®, CLU®, CH F.C.®, C.E.A.®


What do these designation letters mean?

The term Financial Planner is an amazingly kept secret in the financial industry. Perhaps even more surprising is that outside of Quebec, there are no formal qualifications needed for an individual to refer to him/herself as a financial planner. That means that virtually anyone can hang out their shingle and operate as a financial planner, even if they don’t have the formal training to do this type of work!

The Financial Planners Standards Council (FPSC) owns and awards the CFP® (Certified Financial Planner) designation in Canada. Its aim is for the CFP to be the ‘gold standard’ for financial advisors in Canada. This CFP is the ‘mark of the competent, ethical, professional financial planner.’ By being given the right to use the CFP in their business, an individual indicates that they have achieved a certain level of competence on the exam and that they follow the code of ethics. Since I have met the industry standards, I am able to use the CFP (Certified Financial Planner) designation. By the way, the CFP Board posts information on current licensees so you can check it to verify that my (and any other financial planner) designation is in good standing.

And here’s another surprise. A recent survey conducted for the Financial Planners Standard Council found that 75% of the Canadians surveyed believed that financial planning was important to their future and 73% said that having such a plan was important yet only 27% actually had a financial plan written by a professional. While there are many reasons to explain this, the only one that matters is yours. If you are one of these 27%, I encourage you to take the bull by the horns (so to speak) and contact a financial planner, one that has the relevant designations, and secure your future.

Now let’s demystify the rest of my alphabet soup.

To be given the CLU (Certified Life Underwriter) designation, a person has to complete a ten course program and pass all eight two-hour exams. This program is for individuals wanting to specialize in life insurance (personal and business) and estate planning.

The CH F.C. (Chartered Financial Consultant) designation requires a vast knowledge of financial planning. Individuals are required to pass an exam of financial planning including insurance, income tax, investment and estate planning, plus have at least three years experience in the financial industry. Professionals with this designation are qualified to assist individuals to analyze their financial situation and goals.

The C.E.A.® (Certified Executor Advisor) designation relates to keeping up with the many changes and challenges of estate administration. The complexity of assets, legislation changes and the risk of personal litigation is more than enough to give untrained executors nightmares. My C.E.A. training lets you sleep at night.


How meaningful are these designations?

Without question, individuals with these designations undergo a great deal of study and examination. However, these intense exams and long study hours are only part of the criteria you should use when selecting a financial professional. You also need to consider the extent/breadth of knowledge in the field(s) of concern/interest to you. And, you also need to assess whether or not you can develop a positive working relationship with this advisor. For example, does this financial expert listen to what you say, does he/she follow through on their commitments to you, and so on.


Now that you know about designations, I hope you have confidence in my ability to service your financial planning and insurance needs. And if you’re still not convinced, read a few client testimonials. So, give me a call or email and we’ll go from there.