No, it doesn’t have anything to do with North American free trade; it’s the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. When you understand NAPFA, you might want to seek out a NAPFA-registered financial adviser right away, especially if you’re feeling underadvised or underserved by your present financial advisory team.
To be eligible for membership, NAPFA members cannot be paid by commissions. This knocks out the majority of investment salespeople (makes them ineligible). No NAPFA adviser should have incentive to sell anything, only to act in the best interest of the client. Full disclosure of the costs of advice and investing to every client is a cornerstone of NAPFA.
Accepting fiduciary responsibility for the client also is a requirement. This means the NAPFA member must recommend the very best thing for the client. This is different than many investment sales organizations, required only to sell something “suitable” that generally meets the client’s need but potentially is not “the best” solution.
Next, a NAPFA-registered adviser must be a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ in good standing. Many consider this credential as the “gold standard” of professionalism in the industry.
The NAPFA application process isn’t at all like most trade organizations. There are significant requirements, as well as a peer or plan review that must be completed and passed before membership is offered. You don’t just sign up and send a check.
After becoming a NAPFA-registered adviser, NAPFA requires meaningful continuing education, 60 hours every two years, in specific areas of the financial planning process. Attending awesome NAPFA conferences twice per year helps make staying current with professional skills and up-to-date with the latest knowledge a priority.
It’s not easy, and that’s why many financial types either are not eligible or won’t take the time to get and stay affiliated.
As I discussed previously, using NAPFA is an easy way to know whether your adviser truly is a fiduciary.
If you are investing and planning for your future, why would you want to work with anyone that wasn’t a fiduciary, wasn’t a credentialed professional, wasn’t staying current with continuing education, and wasn’t fully disclosing their charges?
You can find a local NAPFA-registered adviser at www.napfa.org.