NEW YORK, April 24, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new report from the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) highlights the challenges 50 million Americans seniors face in selecting reputable financial services providers with meaningful credentials, and offers possible solutions to mitigate those challenges. Among its recommendations, the CFPB promotes third-party accreditation of credentialing organizations to help older consumers identify quality certifications and avoid financial advisers who might misuse credentials to sell inappropriate products. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), coordinator of the U.S. voluntary standardization system and a global leader in conformity assessment, supports the CFPB recommendations and offers a concrete solution via its third-party accreditation of personnel certification bodies.
Entitled " Senior Designations for Financial Advisers: Reducing Consumer Confusion and Risks," the CFPB report states that there are more than 50 different "senior designation" credentials used by financial advisers to market their services to older Americans. Intended to indicate advanced expertise in the financial needs of older consumers, the array of names and acronyms associated with these various credentials can easily cause confusion – particularly to older consumers, who have unique vulnerabilities to fraud.
According to the report, third-party accreditation of certifications is an "accountability mechanism" that must be in place to ensure the quality and legitimacy of senior financial designations. ANSI's Personnel Certification Accreditation Program is a solution for providing that accountability, by verifying the quality and appropriateness of personnel credentialing programs.
Based on the international standard ISO/IEC 17024, Conformity Assessment – General requirements for bodies operating certification of persons, ANSI's program is the most comprehensive and in-depth personnel certification accreditation available in the United States. If a consumer sees the ANSI accreditation mark on a financial services provider's certificate, he or she can be assured that the adviser has the necessary knowledge and skills to make the credential meaningful. It would also mean the certification body has the ability to remove the certification, after due process, for any violations of a code of conduct or for being proven not have the necessary competencies as delineated by the credential.Among other findings, the report noted that consumers have no clear means to distinguish among the many senior designations, and many similar sounding designations can have very different requirements. ANSI strongly supports the report's stated need for consumers to have access to information and verification "about the training, qualifications, education, and standards required for a given designation."