One challenge facing most consumers is finding trustworthy professionals to help manage their retirement finances. In the last few years, dozens of professional designations have been created, some of which purport to offer special expertise designed specifically for seniors. As described in a recent article, often these new designations are nothing more than a marketing device intended to give seniors a false sense of security.
One such example was the designation “Certified Elder Planning Specialist, a designation that was awarded after completing approximately 100 hours through a self-study course provided by the Institute of Elder Planning. In September 2002, the Massachusetts Securities Division filed a complaint against the Institute’s founder alleging, among other things, that the respondents created “specious titles such as ‘Certified Elder Planning Specialists’ to mislead the elderly and disguise the fact that the associates were insurance salesman.” According to Massachusetts securities officials, the organization has closed its doors and the designation is not long in use. Unfortunately, these kind of deceptive practices negatively impact the entire investment advisory industry.