Lloyd Lowe Sr., MBA, RFC Founder & CEO of LD Lowe Wealth Advisory
Article three of a three-part series providing an insider’s look
at the good, the bad, and the ugly of retirement
planning tools, and how they can impact you
Where’s the best place to start when you need a professional to help you with something in your business or your life? Usually you look to see what type of education, certification or accreditation that professional holds. I certainly wouldn’t choose to undergo surgery with a doctor with no M.D., sue for damages using a lawyer who is not a member of my state’s Bar, or trust the education of my child to someone without an advanced degree in early childhood education.
I expect you would treat these situations with the same level of scrutiny, and I imagine you will agree that people seeking the services of a financial advisor should put us through the same paces.
While certifications are important tools for demonstrating proficiency specific to a profession, I believe they should not be used alone to qualify a professional’s skill. As the financial planning profession has evolved and I have grown in my own career, I have come to see the value of certifications and accreditations that are offered by stable, academic-based organizations. For me, a high level of quality and skill in a financial planner/wealth manager is demonstrated through a combination of training, tenure and track record.
A professional achieves training through a mixture of academic progress and continuing education. One of the biggest challenges for the financial planning, insurance and wealth advisory professions, in my view, is a lack of standardization in our education requirements. Unlike CPAs, who must come to their accreditation process with formal education and training, many certifications in our profession are available to individuals who have not completed formal training.
Further, many people transition from other professions to financial planning, and they lack tenure. I am not suggesting this is a bad thing – people transition from one career path to another all the time. However, it does demonstrate a great need for academic training to lay the foundation and a commitment to continuing education to build a strong track record as a qualified financial planning professional.
Every profession evolves, and all professionals should engage in continuing education to keep their skills sharp. However, it is easy to let work, life or budgets get in the way of professional development. One accreditation I hold that I highly value is the RFC® designation from the International Association of Registered Financial Consultants (IARFC). IARFC is committed to advancing our profession through relevant continuing education, advocacy, and a strong code of ethics. One of the highest values provided by the RFC®is the requirement of 40 hours of continuing education every year. Having a minimum continuing education requirement ensures IARFC members stay ahead of the knowledge curve and employ contemporary best-practice thinking in their daily work.
In addition to continuing education programs offered through organizations like IARFC, I believe a strong academic foundation is a key to overall professional success. For that reason, our firm relies heavily on academic programs of quality through the American College of Financial Services for training of our staff. I am also an advocate of higher college education. I chose to pursue a Master of Business Administration degree with a specific concentration in financial planning through the University of Dallas. I would not be the person I am today without the education I received. That is a very positive thing – I believe it has not only provided a great deal of value to me personally and to the management of my business, but it has also provided value to my family, my staff and my clients.
I firmly believe the strongest organizations are those led by a professional with advanced training and certifications who creates a culture that encourages education and growth. In any business, a good leader is one who takes the responsibility for creating an environment where everyone can succeed.
Training, tenure, track record: these are words to live by that will never steer you wrong as you decide whom to trust with the next important need in your life – whether it is planning for retirement, funding your child’s education, or even planning for life after divorce. The same rule holds true if you are a professional in a service-based business like mine. Ensuring the quality of the training you and your staff obtain will help you grow your business to the highest benefit – both to yourselves and to your clients.
Lloyd Lowe Sr. is the founder and CEO of LD Lowe Wealth Advisory in Dallas. If you have comments or questions about the article, they are welcome. Lloyd can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972.335.2523.
Investment Advisory Services offered through LD Lowe Wealth Advisory, a Registered Investment Advisor. Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.