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Need More Credentials? Clients Think So

BOSTON – It's not just alphabet soup after an advisor's name.

Investors not only want their advisors to earn extra credentials, but to also undertake additional training and education in order to maintain those credentials, a new study by IMCA finds.

More than 60% of the 1,200 investors surveyed said they want their advisor to earn voluntary certifications, like CFP offered by the Certified Financial Board of Planners and CIMA offered by IMCA. About three-fourths of those polled want those credentials to come from an audited and accredited third-party association.

And the desire for credentialed advisors runs even stronger among millennial investors. An astounding 84% of the millennials surveyed said it was important for advisors to earn credentials beyond those required by law.

Sean Walters, CEO of IMCA, says the survey results are a sign of rising client expectations that advisors should be striving to meet. "Clients want advisors to go the extra mile, and to keep developing their competencies," he says.

And simply earning a certification isn't enough. A vast majority of those polled, 81%, said it was critical for advisors to meet ongoing standards, such as required continuing education credits, in order to maintain their credentials.

About one quarter of respondents said holistic financial planning was the most valuable competency for an advisor. Only 9% listed tax and estate planning as the most valuable.

The study also found that about half of investors choose their current advisor through a recommendation from a friend of family member.


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