As a financial advisor, you want to stay on top of the game. A good, reliable advisor must meet the following credentials in order to establish his or her career path, attract more clients, and earn more money.

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

Awarded by the CFA Institute, this professional designation gauges the competence and integrity of financial analysts. This is especially important in investment research and portfolio management. For CFA program candidates, one must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, or obtain equivalent education or work experience; gain 48 months of work experience in investment decision making; and present professional reference statements. The most difficult requirement to become a CFA is passing Level I of the CFA exam or the self-administered Standards of Practice Examination. Once you become a CFA Institute member, the professional should adhere to the OFAC compliance policy, as well as sign the Professional Conduct Statement and the Member’s Agreement.

Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

This designation only focuses on investing. For aspiring CFP holders, the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards outlines the following requirements: a bachelor’s degree in any major, three-year financial planning experience, coursework in financial planning, and passing the comprehensive 10-hour certification examination encompassing estate planning, insurance, investment, retirement, and tax. Candidates should fulfill the Fitness Standards for Candidates and Registrants, and follow the Rules of Conduct, which prioritizes the clients’ interests.

Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)

To those who want to expand their knowledge and/or expertise in personal financial planning, this is the right designation for you. To become a PFS holder, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants said the professional should hold a valid, unrevoked Certified Public Accountant (CPA) permit, complete comprehensive education, have at least two years of full-time business or teaching experience related to financial and wealth management, and pass PFP examination.

Aside from the above-mentioned credentials, these are the other standards a financial advisor must have: clean record; transparent, reasonable fee structure, and good, credible references.