Today's Hack

Let’s continue our conversation on financial jargon today. We’ll dive into the different designations and licenses you may see when shopping around for a financial advisor. What do they all mean?

We are continuing our conversation on financial jargon today. Let’s dive into these terms to really determine what these definitions and designations mean when looking for a financial advisor and when constructing your retirement plan.

RIA versus IAR 

When looking for an advisor you may come across a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) or an Investment Advisor Representative (IAR). Effectively, an IAR is representing an RIA firm that could be state or federally licensed.

The C’s 

You’ll probably notice the financial industry uses a lot of C words: certified, chartered, consultant, credited, CFP, CPA, etc. These are more designations to describe an advisor. Some of them are strict licenses, as a CPA has. This is where things can get really murky, so you want to truly understand the letters you see behind an advisor’s name and understand the education requirements it took to get them.

Series License 

If you go to work with an advisor, you may notice different series. For example, Series 65, Series 7, or Series 6. This is the license that can determine what the advisor can do. To buy and sell stocks they’ll need a Series 7. On the other hand, a Series 65 is based on assets under management. Every Series license means the advisor has a different responsibility to their clients, so make sure they fit your needs and you are comfortable with their role.


The education requirements in the financial industry are constantly changing, but it does play a big role in picking an advisor. There are degrees in finance, yet not everyone takes this road. A CFP doesn’t technically need a financial degree to pass the requirements to become an advisor. Education is the base and licensing governs what advisors can do. If you’re shopping around for an advisor, make sure to do your homework.

Join us today as we explore these definitions and more on today’s show!

Listen to the entire episode or skip ahead using the timestamps below. 

[0:52] Having proper qualifications

[2:22 ] RIA or IAR

[3:35] The C’s

[5:35] Series license

[11:49] Education

[15:30] Do your homework

A Quotable Moment:

“If they’re just paying to get a designation, those are the ones you got to be really careful of.”

-Phil Putney

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