Demystifying Financial Credentials

To our clients and community,

Would you be surprised to know that not all wealth advisors hold themselves to a standardized set of principles? Not even close. 

Some are fiduciaries. Some are not. Some are CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professionals. Some are not. You’ve probably heard these terms, but what do they really mean? Below, we dive into the standards and credentials our team has at Created. As a firm, we believe in the importance of education and going above and beyond to immerse ourselves in the subjects that we value and that serve our clients. The rigorous set of standards we met and continue to meet to be certified, including ethics, experience, education and examinations, is voluntary and — to us — necessary.

FIDUCIARY: A person or organization legally required to put their clients’ best interests before their own at all times. We are fiduciaries. Not all financial advisors are, which means they may recommend investments or products based on a commission over ones that are the best for you. 

CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™: A certification and formal recognition of expertise in the areas of financial planning, taxes, insurance, estate planning, and retirement. Becoming a CFP® professional is a difficult and stringent processes for financial advisors, requiring years of experience, successful completion of standardized exams, a demonstration of ethics, and a formal education. The most important aspect of a CFP® certificant in our view, is that they have a fiduciary duty, meaning they must make decisions with their client’s best interests in mind. Anne is a CFP® professional.

CERTIFIED INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT ANALYST® (CIMA®): Advanced investment education in investment consulting, asset allocation, ethics, due diligence, risk measurement, investment policy and performance measurement. It goes well beyond the fundamentals, with deep dives into advanced portfolio management, portfolio construction, and risk management techniques. There are over 270,000 financial advisors in the U.S.; 8,500 of them are Certified Investment Management Analyst® certificants (CIMA®) as of 2021, including Anne.

CHARTERED SRI COUNSELOR™ (CSRIC™): The first major financial credential of its kind in the fast-growing field of sustainable, responsible and impact investing (SRI). These investments consider the environment as well as corporate procedures and governance to not only generate a return for a client but also to make a positive societal impact. One in three U.S. investment dollars, or $17.1 trillion, is in sustainable investing assets as of November 11th, 2020. Nathan is a CSRIC™.

CHARTERED SPECIAL NEEDS CONSULTANT® (ChSNC®): An advanced designation that provides financial services professionals with the technical, collaborative and quantitative skills necessary to help clients with special needs. ChSNC® designees are equipped with the specialized tools needed to help parents and caregivers navigate the unique considerations, estate planning, special needs trusts, life insurance, tax deductions, healthcare issues, Medicaid complexities, and the emotional aspects of providing for a loved one with a disability. Anne holds the ChSNC® designation.

CERTIFIED FINANCIAL TRANSITIONIST ® (CeFT®): The industry’s first designation specifically geared toward financial change and transition. A CeFT®  is trained to help clients navigate the emotional and technical aspects of major life events and the financial transitions that accompany them: Windfall, Widowhood, Inheritance, Sale of a Business, Retirement, Divorce, Legal Settlement, Partnering and Parenting. Anne is a CeFT®.

REGISTERED LIFE PLANNER® (RLP®): An in-depth designation that trains practitioners to use a structured interview process to illuminate clients’ most exciting, meaningful, and fulfilling aspirations and engage them in the work of creating their own vibrant futures with a solid financial architecture. Anne is an RLP®.

These designations are a reflection of why I started Created — to offer independent, fiduciary advice and give our clients access to what we believe is the best of what’s available in the wealth advisory industry. This list is by no means exhaustive; we see learning as ongoing, continuously building on our tool kit to help our clients and community invest and make the right choices for them. We’re excited to continue diving deep on topics that are important and of service to you. 


Anne B. Johnston
Founder & Managing Director at Created

Sources:  Investments & Wealth Institute, Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment,  American College of Financial Services, The Kinder Institute of Life Planning, Investopedia, SmartAsset

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