Types of Financial Planners & Advisors | CFP Let's Make A Plan
menu-icon close-icon comment search linkedin-square twitter facebook linkedin

Types of Financial Planners and Advisors


There are many types of financial advisors available to help you with your financial planning. Each provides a different set of expertise. Learn about the different types of advisors below:

CFP® Professional

Financial planners who hold CFP® certification have met education, examination, experience and ethics requirements. Only those who have fulfilled the certification and renewal requirements of CFP Board can display the CFP® certification marks, which represent a high level of competency, ethics and professionalism.

Listed below are some different types of financial advisors. These advisors should refer you to a planner if they cannot meet your financial planning needs.


Accountants provide you with advice on tax matters and help you prepare and submit your tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). All accountants who practice as Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) must be licensed by the state(s) in which they practice.

Back to top


A relatively small percentage of attorneys provide financial planning services, usually specializing in estate and tax planning. A financial planner may ask an attorney to provide specific legal advice for a client, particularly in the areas of taxation or estate planning. An attorney may also be called upon to prepare the legal documents necessary to implement recommendations in areas such as wills, trust documents or business ownership planning.

Back to top

Estate Planner

Estate planners provide you with advice on estate taxes or other estate planning issues and put together a strategy to manage your assets at the time of your death. While attorneys, accountants, financial planners, insurance agents or trust bankers may all provide estate planning services, you should seek an attorney to prepare legal documents such as wills, trusts and powers of attorney.

Back to top

Insurance Agent

Insurance agents are individuals licensed by a state or states to sell life and health and/or property and casualty insurance products. Many financial planners are licensed to sell or give advice on insurance products. Other financial planners might identify insurance needs for a client, but turn to a licensed insurance agent for recommendations about which existing insurance products best meet your needs. Independent insurance agents sell products for two or more insurance companies, while exclusive insurance agents represent only one.

Back to top

Investment Adviser

Investment advisers are individuals or firms that provide securities advice for compensation as part of a regular business. They must register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or appropriate state securities agencies, unless specifically exempted. Because financial planners often advise people on securities-based investments, many are registered as investment advisers. Investment advisers cannot sell securities products without a securities license. For that, you must use a licensed securities representative, such as a stockbroker.

Back to top


Also called registered representatives, stockbrokers are licensed by the state(s) in which they practice to buy and sell securities products such as stocks, bonds and mutual funds. They generally earn commissions on all of their transactions. Stockbrokers must be registered with a company that is a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and pass FINRA-administered securities exams.

Back to Top