When I first became a NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor I heard, more than a few times, “Congratulations… what is that?” It wasn’t surprising, because NAPFA is a small, but important group.
What is NAPFA?
The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) is a group of professional financial advisors who give advice on a Fee-Only basis, meaning no commissions or incentives. This way the client pays for the advice (rather than the mutual fund company or the insurance company, for example) and the client feels more comfortable that they are getting objective advice. NAPFA was started in 1983 and only has about 2,400 members. Considering the number of financial advisors there are in the country only a very small percentage of them offer advice on a Fee-Only basis.
How do you become a NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor?
Becoming a NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor is a multi-step process. From the www.napfa.org website:
*You must agree to follow the NAPFA Fiduciary Oath
* Advise across Disciplines “NAPFA –Registered Financial Advisors are broadly trained to bring together and apply the separate disciplines comprising personal finance – income tax, financial position and cash flow, retirement preparation, estate planning, investments, and risk management.”
* Have a Bachelor’s degree
* Hold the CFP® or CPA/PFS designation
* Submit a comprehensive financial plan for peer review
* 60 hours of Continuing Education every two years
What does it mean to be a NAPFA member?
I recently participated in a volunteer effort called JumpStart Retire, which was a joint effort between Kiplinger Magazine and NAPFA to offer consumers the opportunity to have their retirement questions answered for free by NAPFA professionals. I answered phones for four hours and answered a lot of questions; I really enjoyed myself and got to help people as well. What I call a “Do Good/Feel Good”. I plan to do more of that with future NAPFA pro bono opportunities. Also, NAPFA has free webinars from time to time for consumers as well. To quote from www.napfa.org, NAPFA members live by three important values:
* To be the beacon for independent, objective advice for individuals and families.
*To be the champion of financial services delivered in the public interest.
* To be the standard bearer for the emerging profession of financial planning.