A large number of financial advisors display several letters after their names that signify they have acquired special expertise by earning these certifications and designations that I will call credentials. The media calls the letters alphabet soup. The letters make the advisors look like experts, but most investors have no idea what the advisors had to do to earn the credentials.
At one end of the spectrum are the four best financial credentials: CFA®, CFP®, CIMA®, and CPA®. At the other end of the spectrum are credentials that the advisors purchased without doing any real work or taking an examination to measure their proficiency. […]