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CFP should be Minimum Standard of Professionalism

This article was originally published May 2013 in The Insurance and Investment Journal.  To download the PDF of this article click HERE.  


Letter to the editor


CFP should be minimum standard of professionalism 


There is currently a campaign being launched by Advocis and it is a noble one. They believe and I agree that consumers should be able to count on professionalism and accountability from their advisors. But it needs to go one step further.

Professionals in every field of endeavor are those individuals seen to be at the top of their games. They are the best at what they do, and their incomes reflect their status as professionals.  I would argue that our industry makes it too easy for small “p” professionals to thrive. That’s because there is another, more common, version of the word “professional”.  Individuals who work in the fields of medicine, law, accounting, engineering and architecture, are commonly seen as professionals by the general public because these occupations require a formal, professional education. If it is important for us as professional insurance or financial advisors to gain the professional stature that we may desire, then obtaining a recognized professional designation can go a long way to assisting us and, in the process, move us from small “p” professional status to large “P” professional.

I would like to see Certified Financial Planner designation become the minimum standard for financial advisors. It could be our industry’s equivalent of a general practitioner and advisors could then specialize from there. 

This is the greatest time ever to be a Certified Financial Planner. I believe CFPs are the most important people on the planet. Only Certified Financial Planners can identify and solve the challenges that the people of the world will be facing in the 21st century. We are more important than attorneys, accountants, bankers and trust officers. The only people that can open discussions about family income, disability, business transfer, retirement, critical illness, college education, etc., are insurance and financial planners. My message is not a doom and gloom message. It is one of opportunity.

You cannot call yourself a doctor, a dentist, chiropractor, or naturopath by paying $300 and writing a 30 minute test.  You need to go to university, pass a national exam, belong to an association and maintain strict continuing education requirements. Can a doctor convince a family to purchase a life insurance policy to replace an income in case of death or disability? Can a dentist convince a family to spend a little less on entertainment to be able to save for the future goals and dreams that come with retirement? Can a chiropractor help you create lifeboats that if not needed could ultimately turn into legacies to help the people you love and the causes you care about?

Professionals convince individuals to protect their finances from life's hurricanes, to wash away the suffering from tragic loss, to turn empty pockets made of tear drops into bank accounts that make it rain with opportunity. Professionals create the financial maps to the end of rainbows. Professionals put puzzles of life back together not take them apart. Professionals make others succeed, harness riches out of rainfall, conjure cheers out of tragedies, make friendships out of competitors, turn networks into communities, spin trepidation into trust, turn money into memories, enrich the lives of those in need. That is the true legacy of the title "Financial Professional".

Kevin Cahill, B.Sc.(Hons), CFP, CHS, CLU, EPC

Guelph, Ontario