Practice Management

What’s Next For Financial Professionals?

Making a new case for industry designations

by Julie G. Kelly, CFP®, CRPC™

Julie G. Kelly is an Edward Jones Financial Advisor serving Durham, North Carolina. She has 20 years of experience in the financial industry. Since 2010, she has taught a course about navigating retirement, “30 Years Without a Paycheck,” at Duke University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Visit www.edwardjones.com.

Established financial professionals often ask, what’s next? Those looking to enhance their careers, grow their practices or deepen their client connections can look no further than professional certifications. These professional certifications and designations offer an opportunity to obtain additional knowledge and experience in desired focus areas, while setting oneself apart in the industry. With increasing client expectations, professional designations can boost a financial advisor’s confidence while also enhancing credibility in the eyes of current and prospective clients.

Further, becoming a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, or CFP®, professional allows financial professionals to have a greater impact on the well-being of those they serve. According to a recent study by the Financial Planning Standards Board, people who work with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional enjoy life more, have a better understanding of their finances and are also more confident about their finances. Results found that while more than half (55%) of clients with financial planners are highly satisfied with their wealth, nearly nine in 10 (87%) feel financially secure, with a similar proportion (86%) feeling better off. By comparison, approximately 2 in 5 (41%) consumers who are unadvised are highly satisfied with their wealth.
In other words, financial advisors who earn a professional designation or certificate not only stretch their knowledge for themselves – they can make a real and profound impact in the lives and livelihoods of clients.

Investing In The Future

Taking the next step requires evaluating and elevating one’s current business acumen. It also demands support from others willing to invest in your future as a continuous learner, given the barriers in time and money that can hold back seasoned professionals from developing their skill sets and knowledge.

At Edward Jones, we believe that investing in our associates is an investment in our clients and communities. We work to remove barriers to certification and support our associates’ training, learning and growth through a multitude of programs that contribute to career development and enhancement.

The firm’s training and certification-support programs offer opportunities for financial advisors to grow their abilities and provide clients with comprehensive planning and advice, whether a financial advisor is well-established or starting their first practice.

Edward Jones recognizes the importance of offering flexible programs for a wide variety of designations, so financial advisors can customize their professional development. We now provide e-training and in-person experiential learning that advance industry knowledge and help us serve clients more completely. And we also offer support for 20 different industry designations, including the CFP® and ChFC® certifications for financial advisors, and the FPQP® designation specifically for client support team professionals (CSTPs).

Strategies For Growth

Taking the next step requires evaluating and elevating one’s current business acumen. It also demands support from others willing to invest in your future as a continuous learner, given the barriers in time and money that can hold back seasoned professionals from developing their skill sets and knowledge...

Currently, we’ve implemented various strategies to encourage financial advisors to earn their CFP® certification. These strategies include making available internal designation specialists for guidance and offering to pay up front for CFP® certification education when taken through one of our preferred educational partners. By providing guided direction and removing the financial barrier, we make the process easier for our financial advisors.

Our focused efforts in this area are seeing results. In 2023, approximately 1,000 Edward Jones financial advisors became CFP® professionals compared to 600 in 2022, 313 in 2021, and 121 in 2020. We anticipate having between 4,000-4,500 CFP® professionals by the end of 2024.

My Journey To Professional Improvement

As one of more than 3,600 Edward Jones Financial Advisors who have earned the CFP® certification, I can affirm that these latest numbers represent both a point of pride and a concrete example of the opportunities made available to help lift our associates, clients and, ultimately, the communities we serve.

Deciding to pursue my CFP® certification – as well as my CRPC™ designation – has helped me to increase my knowledge while building greater trust and deeper relationships with my clients. These designations show my clients I’m committed to continuous improvement. Additionally, as I grow and compete for business, these certifications give me a lot of confidence.

Looking at the future of our industry, I believe offering depth of services will give my practice longevity.
It’s an exciting time to be in the financial industry. With changing demographics and a massive intergenerational wealth transfer underway, current and future clients have a broader set of considerations as they establish, grow, pass on, and give away their wealth – and the onus is on us, as trusted financial advisors, to understand and provide the kind of guidance and support they need.

A Commitment To The Next Generations

As an industry leader in long-term financial advisor growth, Edward Jones is making critical commitments to help ensure that the next generation of clients is supported by financial advisors who are well equipped with tools and resources to help them achieve their financial goals.

Today, we serve more than 8 million clients, and we believe millions more families in North America could benefit from the value we provide. Our hope is to continue growing our impact among our clients, our colleagues and our communities. While we continue to seek new ways to serve more people, we are also growing as a firm. I am proud that in addition to our commitment to serving our clients, our financial advisors continue to pursue new opportunities for learning and development, with more than 2,400 financial advisors in the U.S. and 55 in Canada pursuing professional designations this year. Increasing their acumen in this way is crucial to our being able to serve more people more completely.

As we look to the future, our hope is to continue to add talented people to our team. We want to be the best place for financial advisors to start and grow their career as a financial advisor and to retire from. We believe the depth of knowledge of our financial advisors is critical to delivering personalized, comprehensive advice and a more holistic planning experience.

 

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