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Comparing Planners, Brokers, and Money Managers

Financial Planners:

Financial Planners assist their clients with the "big picture. " The planning process may address the following issues: insurance, investments, retirement, college expenses, budgeting, taxes, and estate. Planners will typically help in the implementation and monitoring of the plan. Compensation is by commissions or fees (or both). Some planners have earned the Certified Financial Planner or CFP designation.

Investment Management:

Investment managers (also known as portfolio managers or money managers) work with clients by establishing an investment policy statement and make ongoing investment decisions, usually on a discretionary basis. Managers are generally compensated by fees that are based on assets under management. Investment managers must be registered by the SEC and/or state regulators (RIA).


Registered representatives assist their clients by providing research and recommendations and executing trades. Compensation is usually commission based, however, many firms offer fee based arrangements (which include management services). Brokers must be licensed by the NASD.

Some of the qualifications financial advisors may have:

MSFS: Master of Science in Financial Services

CPA: Certified Public Account

PFS: Personal Financial Specialist (applies to qualified CPA's only)

CFP: Certified Financial Planner

RIA: Registered Investment Advisor

CIS: Certified Investment Specialist

CMFC: Chartered Mutual Fund Counselor

CFS: Certified Fund Specialist

CFA: Chartered Financial Analyst

ChFC: Chartered Financial Consultant

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