Creating and sticking to a financial plan is challenging, if not impossible, for many Americans. That’s why some enlist a financial advisor or consultant to keep them on track. Some partner with a Registered Financial Consultant (RFC) to do so. Here’s what you need to know about the RFC designation and how it can help you achieve your financial objectives. Consider working with a financial advisor as you seek guidance on how to handle your assets.
What Is a Registered Financial Consultant (RFC)?
A Registered Financial Consultant (RFC) is a financial professional who has a proven understanding of the financial services industry. RFCs have demonstrated a high level of competency. They have also proven that they are well equipped to design financial plans personalized to their client’s specific needs.
The International Association of Registered Financial Consultants (IARFC) gives out the RFC designation to eligible financial professionals who apply. The IARFC is a nonprofit organization that fosters the public’s confidence in financial professionals. They do this by helping financial consultants exchange planning techniques, ensure they meet their ethical standards and offer continuing education to keep their skills sharp.
Registered Financial Consultant (RFC) Qualifications
All applicants must have at least three years of experience as a practitioner in the financial planning or services field. Additionally, a RFC applicant must have one of the following educational requirements:
Unlike other certifications, there is no coursework or exam requirement. However, all applicants must agree to adhere to the International Association of Registered Financial Consultants’ code of ethics. They also must pay a $100 application fee and a $250 membership and designation fee.
Once applicants have received the RFC designation, they must complete a series of continuing education credits. Every two years, all RFCs must devote a minimum of 40 hours to continuing education credits. Each credit must fall under personal finance or professional practice management topics. Four hours of their continuing education credits must focus on ethics.
Financial Consultants vs. Financial Advisors
The terms “financial consultant” and “financial advisor” tend to be interchangeable. That said, many financial advisors may refer to themselves as financial consultants. This is because both professionals offer their help in making complex financial decisions. Many financial advisors and consultants are experts when it comes to creating financial plans suitable for your specific needs.
Both professionals may have studied economics, accounting or finance during their college years. You may even find some professionals with MBAs or other advanced certifications. For example, one of the most highly regarded certifications is the Certified
Financial Planner (CFP) designation, but there are many others that can add value.
For instance, other than the RFC designation, the chartered financial consultant (ChFC) designation is another certification you may see consultants carry. This designation is often used as alternative to the CFP mark. The Institute of Financial Consultants issues ChFC designations once an applicant completes five online modules, completes 20 hours of continuing education credits and passes an online exam. The core of the programs for the CFP and ChFC designations are very similar, but ChFC certifications require a few additional elective courses in financial planning.
However, the RFC designation doesn’t require an inclusive board exam like the CFP designation. Yet, both CFPs and ChFCs can give you financial recommendations based off of your individual financial situation.
How to Find a Registered Financial Consultant (RFC)
It’s important to note that everyone has a different financial situation. Some financial consultants and advisors are experts with certain topics. Others only work with certain investors who have a specific net worth. That’s why it’s important to find a financial advisor who fits your financial needs. You can use online search tools or ask for referrals from friends and family who are in a similar stage of life and financial circumstance.
Once you have a few candidates in mind, you can use BrokerCheck to verify a consultant’s credentials and background. Next, create a list of questions that will help you gain more insight into their practice. These questions can include their fee structure, account minimums, expertise, clientele and certifications and investing philosophy. Make sure to meet with a few candidates before you make your final decision.
The one of the most important factors to consider when choosing advisors is their certifications and expertise. It wouldn’t be beneficial to work with a financial advisor or consultant who doesn’t have the knowledge, education or background in the specific area you need help with. It would be like going to a dermatologist for a cardiac issue.
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