and Advisors: What You Should Know About Professional Designations
professionals use designations that imply that they are experts
at helping seniors with financial issues. Many seniors, however,
don't understand the sets of initials that may follow the names
of these financial professionals or the meaning of the titles
- such as "senior specialist" or "retirement advisor" - they use
to market themselves.
experience, and other requirements for receiving and maintaining
a "senior" designation vary greatly. In some cases, a financial
professional may need to study and pass several rigorous exams
- after working in a designated field for several years - to receive
a particular designation. In other cases, it may be relatively
easy in terms of time and effort to receive a "senior" designation,
even for an individual with no relevant experience
If you want to
find out more about a particular professional designation, check
out the "Understanding
Investment Professional Designations" page on the NASD's website.
The page provides the education and experience requirements for
many professional designations. In addition, you can find out
whether the granting organization for a particular designation
requires continuing education, offers a public disciplinary or
investor complaint process, or provides a way to check the status
of a financial professional. Keep in mind that neither the NASD
nor the SEC endorses any professional designation.
Even after doing
some research, it may not be clear to you whether a professional
designation represents legitimate expertise, a marketing tool,
or something in between. That's one reason you should always look
beyond a financial professional's designation and determine
whether he or she can provide the type of financial services or
product you need.
We encourage you
to thoroughly evaluate the background of anyone with whom you
intend to do business - before you hand over your hard-earned
cash. You also should ask questions - that's the best advice we
can give you about how to invest wisely. We see too many investors
who might have avoided trouble and losses if they had asked basic
questions from the start.
You can learn more
about the questions you should ask about investments and financial
professionals by reading our Ask Questions
brochure. Our Check
Out Brokers and Advisers brochure tells you how to get background
information on a financial professional, including prior employment
history and disciplinary actions.
For more on this
topic, please read the NASAA's "investor
alert" concerning senior specialists. You also can find helpful
resources and links on our web page dedicated to seniors at www.sec.gov/investor/seniors.shtml.