Just when Indians want better quality of advice from their advisers, the advisers are brandishing new fangled qualifications. Should you be impressed by what they did or is it just a new piece of furniture meant to impress you? You should know that these amazing, high sounding alphabets, may be very easy to get. Easy on effort and costing a few thousand rupees.

I am sure that the Regulator should be worried about these dubious high sounding degrees which are used to sell bad products. Regulating the market means regulating the entry qualification, training qualification, etc. and I am not here to offer any solution. Professional qualification have always been used to attract clients. However, if these new fangled qualifications are used to attract wealthy but aged clients, it is going to hurt the wealth industry very badly. Of course people who get cheated will be hurt, but the hurt to the country cannot be ignored.

In the financial business (BFSI) , many well-established credentials, including the chartered accountant, chartered financial analyst and certified financial planner designations, require a lot more effort than some of the newer qualifications. Even among these CA is far far more difficult degree than CFA and CPA is the easiest amont these three degrees too. Many newer credentials, however, require comparatively little effort on the part of the students.

Remember some of our top investment gurus are Chartered Accountants (Vallabh Bhansali, RJ, Ramdeo Aggarwal), IIM graduates (Naren, Sanjoy Bhattacharyya, Prashant Jain) of course some of them have the CFA degree too. However Sunil Singhania, Munot, etc. have a basic degree and the CFA came more as an embellishment on the degree that they already had. However, these are the degrees that dominate the Indian investment market.

There were just too certified financial planners (CFPs) in the U.S. and according to available data it looks like China and India will soon outstrip them in the number of CFAs that we produce. Needless to add that China is far ahead of India. The American Academy of Financial Management, a group that offers 17 different designations, has a huge following in India, and I too was offered a Honorary degree – I had to just fill up a form and pay US $ 100. Apart from these let me throw some designations at you – Financial planner, Certified Financial Adviser, Certified Adviser, Certified Senior Advisor, Senior adviser….there is no shortage of the alphabet soup that we have created. Does it really help? I think no. It is just a ploy to increase sales. For the institute and for the individuals buying the degree. Does it help you? I am not sure.

The rigor needed to get a CA degree or CFA degree is of course far higher than what it takes to get many of the other degrees. Say 20 hours effort is too much for the CFP degree. Most of the other degrees are far easier to get. In India with so much of financial illiteracy, people will NOT be able to distinguish a really academically well qualified person and a quack.



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  1. Solid gold insight… With an engineering background, I did attempt CFA and to get through even Level 1 was excruciating 🙂

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