If you’ve ever tried to look for a financial professional to help you manage your money, you’ve probably come across a myriad of job titles. You might find the website for an Investment Advisor, see a television advertisement for a local Financial Planner, or get a business card from a friend of a friend who’s a Stockbroker. The jargon of this industry can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to scare you away from taking real responsibility for your retirement, funds, and future.
At Lowery Thomas, LLC, our highly qualified team has spent the past sixteen years using our expertise to help our clients succeed. When you work with us, we’ll help you understand the complex language of financial planning and investing in more straightforward terms so you can take charge of your accounts. The first step to getting assistance with your finances is finding the right professional, but you can’t do that unless you know how to decipher various designations. In the following blog, we break down what financial professionals’ titles actually mean and how you can find the right representative for your needs.
What’s In a Title?
In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers struggle with titles. Unable to make public her affections for Romeo because he is a Montague, Juliet bemoans: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” When faced with a plethora of financial monikers, you might find yourself asking the same question—what does the title actually mean, if anything?
The answer is somewhat ambiguous: it varies. The University of Illinois Extension’s “Choosing a Financial Professional” article explains: “sometimes a title is helpful, but sometimes it can be confusing. People with varying experience, education, designations, and licenses may promote themselves as financial professionals or advisors. In addition, new titles seem to emerge every day.” Unfortunately, just about anyone can declare themselves a “Financier Extraordinaire” or “Investment Expert” without much backing, so you do need to be wary. Certain titles, however, have clearly defined meanings, associated qualifications, and even licensing requirements. If you know these, you should be able to make your way.
Top Titles and Their Meanings
A title isn’t always telling, but it can be. Below, we define some of the top financial professionals’ titles and describe what they mean:
- Stockbroker or Registered Representative. According to Forbes, people with these titles “are regulated professionals who make trades on behalf of retail and institutional clients in exchange for a fee and/or commission.” These are some of the oldest titles in the business, so these professionals typically have quite clearly defined skill sets.
- Financial Advisor. NASDAQ reports: “usually, this means the advisor has a so-called Series 65 license, or investment advisor license. However, the term ‘financial advisor’ has become extremely generic and could apply to many types of financial professionals,” so it’s best to ask about your potential money manager’s licenses before you begin.
- Investment Advisor or Investment Advisor Representative (IAR). As a superior alternative to financial advisors, NASDAQ notes: “this is the official term for an advisor who gives financial advice to clients in return for compensation….investment advisor representatives are held to a ‘fiduciary’ standard under the law….the highest standard for financial professionals.” Forbes adds: “IARs must pass the FINRA [Financial Industry Regulatory Authority] Series 65 exam, or the Series 7 exam in conjunction with the Series 66 exam.” This makes Investment Advisor or IAR a more trusted title than many others.
- Financial Planner. Forbes writes: “financial planners help individuals and corporations meet their short- and long-term financial goals by evaluating each client’s current financial status and developing a program to meet his or her objectives…A person does not need any specialized training or licensing to be called a financial planner,” but many “do hold credentials.” For example, by meeting educational, testing, ethical, and organizational requirements, a financial professional can become a Certified Financial Planner, or CFP®.
Our Proficient Professionals
At Lowery Thomas, LLC, we refer to ourselves as Financial Planners and Investment Advisors. Our three primary professionals have a wide range of expertise:
- David J. Lowery, Founder & Director of Investments, is a Registered Investment Advisor since 1999 who has passed the Series 7, Series 63, and Series 65 exams.
- Mark T. Vicencio, Founder & President, is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) since 1992 and Registered Investment Advisor since 1999. He’s passed the Series 65 test and is a member of several esteemed professional organizations, such as the American Institute of CPAs.
- Kenneth G. Cala, Founder & Director of Planning, is a CFP® since 2003, CPA since 1991, and Registered Investment Advisor since 2001. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Taxation and has passed the Series 65 assessment.
Contact Lowery Thomas, LLC Today
If you’re ready to work with financial professionals who have both the titles and the credentials to support them, look no further. Contact Lowery Thomas, LLC today to find out more or schedule a consultation.