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Encore: Everyone’s An Expert

Who would you rather see for financial advice: Matt Heimer? Or Matt Heimer, C.R.C., P.R.P., R.F.G., Y&T?

For many, the latter is the slam-dunk pick. Surveys by regulators suggest that older investors, in particular, are more likely to choose advisers with impressive lists of credentials after their names, even if they’re not exactly clear about what the alphabet soup of initials signifies — after all, they convey a certain gravitas.

The problem, as Elizabeth O’Brien points out today on, is that many of those credentials don’t mean much at all: They’re marketing tools, rather than indicators of a planner’s education or expertise.  Advisers go to a weekend seminar, “pay a fee, maybe play a round of golf, and come out with a designation,” says one critic. It’s something some reformers are eager to change.

In case you’re wondering: C.R.C., P.R.P., and R.F.G. are retirement-related financial-planner designations. Y&T is a heavy-metal group that was popular when I was in high school. Their latest album? That’d be 2010’s Facemelter. (For the record: I don’t actually hold any of those credentials or belong to that band.)



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About Encore

  • Encore examines the changing nature of retirement, from new rules and guidelines for financial security to the shifting identities and priorities of today’s retirees. The blog also explores news that affects retirement, from the Wall Street Journal Digital Network and around the web. Lead bloggers are reporter Catey Hill and senior editor Jeremy Olshan. Other contributors include The Wall Street Journal’s retirement columnists Glenn Ruffenach and Anne Tergesen; the Director for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Alicia Munnell; and the Director of Research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, Michael Kitces, CFP.