Having trained advisers from 30 countries, I also greatly value its global reach. I do carry a bias, holding the CFP designation myself, although no longer active as a practitioner. Frankly, I think both designations are fine.
But my perspective is no longer a contemporary one. I have been deeply troubled by the crises in economics and democracy we have seen across developed civilization over the past ten years, and the attendant diminishment of trust in the institutions we have assumed bring freedom into the world.
Both financial advisers and politicians receive equally low levels of trust in surveys across the developed world. Will either Chartered or Certified change this? I'm afraid not much.
Truth is, product companies are too tied to both politicians and advisers and they are not interested in a change to the delivery of great advice. Advice isn't their business; profits and products are. And power.
So I've taken my concern away from the contemporary. In EVOKE, the acronym for the methodology of Life Planning, we first listen (E for Explore) to a client's concerns and then create a Vision (V in EVOKE) so powerful of what the client most wants in their life that it is impossible for them to say no to it.
A vision that touches their heart, matches their integrity and fulfills their authenticity. A vision that is palpable, and that they long for more than anything. It is often much simpler than the list of goals in a traditional financial plan because it is more true. It is deeper. It stirs their passion for life.
With Vision in mind, I've given myself a project, to think outside the box, and write a book on how we might create a Golden Civilization, one that would thrive with freedom for thousands of years.
Given how our contemporary experience has lurched from one system to another, with intermittent periods of paralysis and growing distrust, I have concerns that the systems human beings have set in place for freedom since the Industrial Revolution are unsustainable, especially considering the threats from rising complexities of technology and concentrations of power.
In my book I have been questioning each of seven major areas in economics and government, looking for sustainable systems that would lead neither to paralysis nor distrust and corruption and within which we might thrive for centuries. I am looking at entrepreneurial spirit, advice, products, markets, democracy, media and leadership. Advice is key.
Given the complexities of money alone, I believe that without great standards of advice and great delivery, there can be no ever-expanding circle of freedom in the world, only greater inequality.
I'm not sure how Chartered or Certified stack up, but my hunch is they are on the side of greater inequality. Their focus is too much on products or on the adviser. Instead, their overwhelming purpose should be to bring freedom to all consumers.
So, as they stand, in my mind neither Chartered nor Certified are sustainable for the long run.
Will they change or will another standard replace them? I don't know. A standard that could stand for centuries must contain at its core the following:
1. A dedication first and foremost to freedom for every client. That's the deliverable. This requires authenticity and integrity in every aspect of our engagement along with the human qualities of care and inspiration in our delivery.
2. No conflicts of interest, no ties to product companies.
3. Every human being in the nation must receive great advice. Indeed, every human being on Earth.
The products a great civilization delivers more than any other are moments of freedom.
Financial Planners, more than any other profession, are poised to deliver them.
It is absurd that our designations are not designed for this delivery.
It is what Life Planners deliver. It is our highest and most noble calling.
George Kinder, CFP®, RLP®, is the founder of the Kinder Institute of Life Planning and designer of trainings for client-adviser relationship skills. His new book, A Golden Civilization, is due autumn 2017.