To my mind, to even ask the questions is to misunderstand the nature and ethos of real financial planning.
As someone who is both Certified and Chartered, I believe I am well qualified to distinguish between the 2 and to explain why both are necessary, indeed critical, to the success of the individual Financial Planner, the financial planning business and ultimately the client.
The Chartered Financial Planner (and in fact the Chartered Wealth Manager) have demonstrated that they have, at some point in time, learned the technical facts necessary to pass the various exams and have accumulated enough different bits of technical information to culminate in a high level qualification.
The Certified Financial Planner (CFP) will have reached a similar level of technical expertise, (often passing the same exams) but will also have to prove that they know how to apply that technical knowledge to real life client situations by formulating a comprehensive financial plan which will cover all aspects of a client's financial and life situation.
The CFP will be required to demonstrate adherence to an internationally recognised 6 step planning process, which places emphasis on their ability to communicate well with clients, show empathy, build trust and clearly understand client objectives.
The first 2 steps of the process concentrate on effective data and objective gathering and it is during this part of the process that clients usually decide whether they want to work with the Planner. The last step is all about enhancing client relationships by ongoing reviews and further planning and is what ensures that clients value the planner's current and future service and will remain loyal.
Of course some Chartered Financial planners will argue that this is what they do anyway but sadly the failure rate of those sitting the CFP has long indicated that while they may be highly technically qualified, their ability to communicate complex issues to clients effectively, could be improved.
Those who are CFP practitioners will attest to the usefulness of having a defined process to follow in dealing with clients and to the success of organising their businesses to most effectively follow that process.
The Financial Planning Standards Board, which awards the CFP licence across the world, has some impressive statistics to show that where the CFP designation is well known, client demand and business profitability are high.
Based on my experience I would say that both designations are ‘useful’.
Chartered is a better known word in the UK, but Certified is better known internationally and is, to my mind, Chartered PLUS.
In any event high level qualifications in the financial world are increasingly taken for granted by clients and marketing oneself as qualified - whether Chartered, Certified or anything else - is not what will bring clients to your door.