The formula the FT uses to grade advisers is based on six broad factors and calculates a numeric score for each adviser. Areas of consideration include adviser AUM, asset growth, the company's age, industry certifications of key employees, SEC compliance record and online accessibility.
The Financial Times 401 Top Retirement Plan Advisors is an independent listing produced annually by the Financial Times (September 2017). The FT 401 is based on data gathered from advisors, regulatory disclosures, and the FT’s research. The listing reflects each advisor’s status in seven primary areas: DC plan assets under management (AUM), DC AUM growth rate, specialization in DC plans, years of experience, advanced industry credentials, compliance record and DC plan participation rate. This honor is not indicative of the advisor’s future performance. Neither the advisors nor their parent firms pay a fee to the Financial Times in exchange for inclusion in the FT 401.
This is the highest law degree in the United States. A JD degree represents professional recognition that the holder has a doctoral degree in law. Due to the length of study required in the United States to attain a law degree, the name reflects its status as a professional degree.
Certified Exit Planning Advisor
Professionals with this designation have passed an exam and completed the Exit Planning Institute’s CEPA Program, which is the most widely accepted and endorsed program of its kind. Graduates of the program have mastered the Value Acceleration Methodology, which integrates exit strategy into the business, personal, and financial goals of the business owner.
Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor – CRPC
This designation, the nation’s premier retirement planning credential, is awarded by the College for Financial Planning. CRPCs have mastered client-centric retirement planning in a comprehensive graduate-level program that covers all aspects of the retirement process.
Chartered Financial Analyst
One of the highest distinctions in the investment management profession, this title designates graduates of the CFA Program from the CFA Institute. These professionals have passed multiple exams on financial reporting and analysis, asset valuation, portfolio management, and managing equity, fixed income, and derivative investments.
Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst
Investment professionals with this designation have passed a rigorous educational program and multiple exams offered by the CAIA Association. Graduates of the program hold the globally recognized credential for professionally managing, analyzing, distributing, or regulating alternative investments.
Accredited Investment Fiduciary
Financial advisors with this designation have gone through the training, met the qualifications, and passed an exam on the fiduciary standards of excellence that apply to managing the assets of another person or institution. Professionals with the AIF designation understand the legal standards that require them to prudently manage investment decisions.
Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist
This unique designation from the College of Financial Planning is seen as the industry benchmark on business retirement plan administration. Graduates are experts in the process of designing, installing, and maintaining company retirement plans.
Certified 401(k) Professional
This designation distinguishes financial professionals who have demonstrated the knowledge and ability to positively affect the retirement outcome for participants in company retirement plans. The Retirement Advisor University, in collaboration with UCLA Anderson School of Management Executive Education, awards this designation to financial professionals who complete a rigorous curriculum of extensive coursework, examinations, a case study, and training.
Certified Financial Planner
The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc., awards this designation to individuals who have successfully passed the board’s extensive exams covering financial planning, taxes, insurance, estate planning, and retirement, in addition to ongoing certification requirements and continuing education. These professionals have met rigorous standards and agreed to adhere to the principles of integrity, objectivity, competence, fairness, confidentiality, professionalism, and diligence.
Certified Divorce Financial Analyst
Someone with this designation is an expert in all the financial circumstances that surround divorce. The training for this certification focuses on understanding and estimating the long-term costs of a divorce. Some areas they focus on are tax consequences, property division, alimony and/or child support amounts, and the future of retirement/pension funds.
Master of Business Administration
This is a graduate degree earned at any university that provides theoretical and practical training to help students gain a better understanding of general business management functions.
Certified Public Accountant: This designation is given by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, which is responsible for setting standards in the CPA profession. CPAs have passed a graduate-level exam and met work experience requirements, in addition to completing continuing education stipulations and following a strict code of ethics.
Personal Financial Specialist
This is a specialty credential for CPAs who are experts at helping individuals with wealth management. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants grants this designation only to CPAs with significant personal financial planning education and experience. CPAs pursue this credential because they want to display their expertise and knowledge as it relates to all aspects of financial planning.
Master of Education
This is a graduate degree awarded from the college of education that focuses on teaching, public service, and scholarship. This is typically the area to advance knowledge of, and experience professional practice in, learning and educating.