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Asset Allocation

An investment strategy that diversifies a portfolio with different types of investments, typically a mix stocks, bonds and cash equivalents, in order to achieve a balance of risk and return.

Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

A professional planner who has met certain requirements of education, experience and ethical conduct, and passed examinations in investment, tax, estate, retirement and insurance planning. To keep their certification, CFPs are obligated to take continuing education classes.

Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

A licensed tax and accounting specialist. CPAs are required to pass a rigorous exam and must take continuing education classes to keep current with changing tax laws.

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

An advisor who usually specializes in investment analysis and selection. To earn the CFA designation, investment professionals must complete a three-year program and pass rigorous exams on investment analysis, asset valuation and portfolio management. They also must adhere to stringent professional and ethical standards

Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)

A ChFC must pass a comprehensive curriculum of ten courses in financial services, with an emphasis of insurance. In addition, ChFCs must also have a minimum of three years of qualifying experience and abide by strict ethical standards.

Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC)

To become a CIC, an investment manager must, among other things, have completed all the requirements specified for a CFA designation, meets rigorous ethical and professional standards, and have completed five years in a position actively managing client portfolios.

Discretionary Account

An account in which the investor permits a third party to act on the investor’s behalf in buying and selling securities without first consulting with the investor. The third party has discretion as to the choice of securities, prices and timing, subject to limitations specified in the agreement.


A type of compensation that is generally derived from client fees. Fee-based managers may also receive commissions for recommending products such as insurance policies or annuities. Fee-only managers are compensated solely by fees paid by their clients, and receive no commissions from any other source.

Financial Planner

A professional specializing in the development of a comprehensive financial plan to meet an investor’s tax planning, estate planning and insurance needs. Some financial planners can also offer investment management services to support the investor’s overall plan objectives.

Form ADV

The uniform form used by investment advisors to register and update registrations with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) and, in most states, with the applicable state regulator. The form is also used to comply with SEC Rule 206(4)-4, which obligates investment advisors to disclose significant financial and disciplinary information to clients.

Independent Investment Manager

A professional who offers advice on the development and management of an investment plan, and regularly reviews the client’s portfolio to ensure his or her investment objectives are met. Independent managers are not employees of brokerage firms, banks, mutual fund or insurance companies, investment in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other financial instruments.