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Some Certified Financial Planners not hot at managing their own money

By Dian Vujovich

In the 1980’s, when I was selling tax-free muni bonds in Palm Beach, management encouraged those of us new to this sales biz to get into debt. Really.


The thinking was if a sales person was strapped with a heap  of debt, they’d be hungry and consequently  better and more aggressive sales people because of their own financial obligations they had to meet each and every month.


Security sales is, after all,  based upon your month-to-month sales tallies. And in my day  brokers  were  often reminded that they are only as good as their last sale.


Debt motivation is a strategy  I’d never suggest. Neither is the philosophy of one’s worth being dependent upon their last sale. Both are problematic on a number of different fronts. Plus, reek  of deprecating negativity.


While I don’t know what sales strokes management employs today, given the level of competition of those within the securities industry coupled with the almost weekly news stories about Wall Street related scandals etc., I’m figuring not much has changed.


But this blog isn’t about how the brokerage/investment business motivates its sales force. It’s about the simple reality that even  well-trained and educated investment pros aren’t necessarily great at managing money—their own or that of their clients.


For example, a  Certified Financial Planner, CFP, is a well-respected industry  designation. It’s been around since 1973.  That year, 43 people graduated from the College of Financial Planning in Denver, CO. Today, there are about 67,000 CFPs in the U.S.


Becoming a CFP is no quick and easy  24-hour task. Doing so takes years of study in a host of different financial planning areas. According to the CFP website, (cfp.net/become/education) the subjects candidates must master run the gambit from the general principles of financial planning, to insurance and investment planning and estate and employee benefits planning.


But earning that designation is only half the battle when it comes to effectively managing money. The other half ia living up to CFP standards.


This week the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc, a group that oversees the actions of CFPs, posted a list of planners who now have disciplinary actions slapped against them.


That’s the bad news.


The good news is that within that huge universe of planners there were only 19 bad eggs in this go-around. Eight had revocations, four were suspended, three had interim suspensions and four given letters of administration.


Of the 19, six received disciplinary action  for their bankruptcy filings. According to one press release, ” Five had filed for bankruptcy on multiple occasions, with one certificant filing three times between 1998 and 2004.”


When it comes to managing money,  it doesn’t matter how many letters follow someone’s name. Or, aren’t there.  Managing money isn’t a skill people are born with.It’s a learned discipline that some are  better at than others. To manage funds effectively is a task that needs tending to  throughout one’s entire life no matter at what age or financial stage they are in.


Keep that in mind when you’re looking for a financial professional to work with.


To see if your CFP has any disciplinary action  history, visit: CFP.net/verify.

To read more articles, please visit the column archive.

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