I have met many professionals in the financial services industry over the last decade. One of the most confusing aspects of this profession is knowing what services individuals provide based upon their title.
Take three people with the title "advisor": One person may have licensing that only allows them to sell life insurance, the second can also sell annuities and the third can use most means of investing necessary to meet your needs.
Why? In short, there are several levels of development represented here.
The first person has licensing from the department of insurance and has taken tests to coorelate with that product only. The second person has their series 6 registration and therefore can sell (a few) more products including diversified options such as mutual funds, variable annuities and variable life insurance.
This brings us to the third person who can sell corporate or municipal securities (including individual stocks and bonds), direct participation programs and options (in addition to the afore mentioned products) because they have their series 7 registration.
There are many types of additional licensing that allow practicioners to expand their knowledge base. These licenses reference securities acts, related rules and regulations, as well as knowledge of ethical practices and fiduciary obligations.
Additionally, titles vary by company. Regardless if a title reads Vice President or Marketing representative ask what licensing a representative has. Licensing does not guarantee knowledge but it is a good base line for industry knowledge and lets you know that this person has at least been in the industry long enough to study, sit for and pass an exam for some of the "knowledge" they are about to pass on to you.
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