Understanding the Difference Between Financial Advisor and A Certified Financial Planner™

You more than likely have seen Financial Professionals call themselves by different titles.  And like many other consumers you may be confuse about the differences, or if there are any differences. 

If you have ever wondered about the difference between your friend’s Certified Financial Planner™ and your Financial Advisor, keep reading to find out. 


The term Financial Advisor is a broad title and can be used to include those individuals who are Certified Financial Planners™ ( CFP®).  Financial Advisors are any professional advisors who work with clients providing them advice relating to their finances. 


Certified Financial Planners™ have acquired their designation through what is known as the “Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.”  These financial professionals obtained this specialized designation by undergoing additional educational requirements, meeting experience requirements, passing additional exams and are held to a high level of ethics. 


In fact, the certification process usually takes several years to achieve and during that time the planner must complete four requirements from the CFP® Board:

1.     Education

2.     Examination

3.     Experience

4.     Ethics


Aside from the additional education requirements, the biggest difference between Certified Financial Planners™ and Financial Advisors is that a CFP® have a fiduciary responsibility to their clients.  Meaning they must always put the best interest of their clients first.  So, if you are working with a CFP® you will know they won’t have any conflicting interests.


If you are unsure if your current advisor is a Certified Financial Planners™ you can visit www.cfp.net to check.  The Board provides an area where you can search for CFP®’s who are in good standing with the Board.   Whether you want to check the credentials of your current advisor or find a CFP® to begin working with you can do so at the Board’s website.  Also, there is a lot of good information about financial planning there too. 


Remember, Financial Advisors and Certified Financial Planners™ are both qualified to provide you with advice.  But, Certified Financial Planners™ are qualified to provide advice on more topics and more in-depth planning needs.  When deciding which you want to work with, you will need to consider your own personal situation and needs.

Heather Castle

I am originally from Virginia and grew up in Tuscaloosa, Al.  I completed both of my degrees at the University of Alabama.  My undergrad degree in Finance and then later my MBA from the Manderson Business School through their Executive MBA program. 

I started Castle Wealth Advisors, LLC because I wanted to provide ethical and approachable financial planning and investment management to individuals and business owners, concerned with their financial futures, regardless of age, sex, race, or net worth.

I've always believed clients should work with reputable, qualified, and experienced advisors.  So it was important to me to gain industry experience as well as pursuing additional industry specific designations.  I have passed the following licensing exams:

     Series 7, General Securities Representative

     Series 66, Investment Advisor Representative 

     Series 9 & 10, General Securities Sales Supervisor

     California Life, Health, and Variable Insurance (License #0K01554)

I have been in the financial services industry since 2006 and have work with many differing type of clients over the years.  One thing I know to be true, everyone wants to feel heard and cared about.  Meaning everyone I have ever worked with wants to feel like their desires, wants and needs have been heard and taken into consideration when speaking about their personal financial matters.

Many people have the same goals, they just express them differently, and then there are a few who’s view and desires are completely different.  This is one of the aspects I love about my job.  The PEOPLE!  I get to meet some many interesting people and they challenge me daily.  No day in my line of work is the same.  Today I could be planning for a family who owns a small business and tomorrow working with a women going through a painful divorce.  Listening and building financial plans and strategies around personal needs is why many of my clients have said they do business with me and have stayed with me. 

Another reason I love my job… I get to truly HELP people.  I get to make a living and provide for my family while helping others.  Over my career I have felt a need to dive deeper into financial planning and working with high net worth individuals who have greater planning and investing needs.  Listed below I have highlighted a few of the areas I specialize in:

·      Women in transition (divorce/ death)

·      Corporate Executives

·      Young Entrepreneurs

·      Small Business Owners

·      Family with Special Needs Members

·      Complex Retirement and Estate Planning Needs

Currently I live in Brentwood and really enjoy the West Side of Los Angeles.  I am actively involved with the Junior League of Los Angeles.  I have a passion for trying new things and new experiences.  So, in my free time I love traveling and scuba diving.  I also am interested in learning French, taking pilot’s lessons and dancing the tango!