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Certified Financial Planner™ Program Instructor Spotlight: Cheryl Richardson

Certified Financial Planner™ Program Instructor Spotlight: Cheryl Richardson

Are you looking to earn your CFP® designation? As the population ages and life expectancies rise, demand for financial planning services should increase. Cheryl Richardson, attorney and one of our Certified Financial Planner™ Program instructors, is set to teach the Estate Planning portion of our course. Here, she shares more insight on the program and industry.

Briefly discuss your background and how it relates to teaching this course? Why is it important for you to teach this?

I have been working in the field of estate planning for 13 years. I also teach Estate Planning as part of CCPE’s Paralegal Certificate program. It is important to teach this course because financial planners advise clients on products that directly affect their estate plan. Often that advice is given without consulting an estate planner. When that is the case, it is essential that the financial planner understand the estate planning, Medicaid, and veterans’ aid and attendance ramifications.

Just recently, I learned of a couple who were sold a product that did not support the couple’s estate planning needs. Had the financial planner considered the ramifications of the product that he was proposing, I hope that he would not have recommended that product to the couple.

Lastly, most people have preconceived notions about lawyers. Too many people remember the show, “The Paper Chase.” Hopefully, this class helps to demystify lawyers and a little of the law. Financial planners should have a close and continuous relationship with their clients, much like a primary care physician. They need to ensure that the client has a regular check-up with the estate planning attorney when life changes or financial changes occur, much like an appointment with a specialist. Too often clients look at their estate plan as one and done. It isn’t. It is a living document that has to be updated and changed. The financial planner is one of the best conduits between the client and the estate planner.

What are the top four questions asked about the importance of estate planning?

  1. How does estate planning compliment or tie into financial planning and vice versa?
  2. What should come first, the financial plan or the estate plan?
  3. What are the estate planning pitfalls or landmines that will eat away at the financial plan or be negatively impacted by the financial plan?
  4. What role, if any, should the financial planner play in estate planning?

What advice can you give students who want to successfully complete this course?

Lose your preconceived notions about estate planning. Everyone has either dealt with an attorney directly on an estate plan or dealt with a family member’s estate. Students come to class with preconceived notions of how things are and these notions are generally not true. I am going to teach you what should happen with estate planning and what you need to know to be successful, not just with the completion of the course or in passing the CFP® exam, but also with providing services to your clients. Also, understand that while you will not be giving legal advice, understanding estate planning and understanding when you need to seek out an attorney to give detailed estate planning guidance and assistance will make you more valuable to your clients.

What does the job market/career outlook look like for CFPs?

I believe that the market is strong for CFPs, especially a CFP who has more than just a passing understanding of estate planning principals. It is easy to overlook simple issues of titling property, appraisal costs/value of specialty estate items, contingent beneficiary designations of retirement benefits, or caring for elderly parents or a sick spouse. All of these things can negatively impact a well-thought out financial plan. If the planner can consider these impacts and plan for them in advance, the impacts will be lessened. When a financial planner is able to think about the issues that are important to the overall estate plan, the financial plan has a better chance of providing the retirement benefits and legacy that the clients intend.


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