To find the right financial professional, you have to sift through an alphabet soup of certifications. Here’s a quick guide to six of the most common.A Certified Financial Planner helps people understand their options and make the right decisions. CFPs are competent in all aspects of financial planning. They study more than 100 topics to pass a certification exam. They complete qualifying work experience, and agree to a code of ethics. Chartered Financial Analysts must pass three difficult exams and compile three years of qualifying work experience. CFAs tend to be analysts who work in institutional management and stock analysis, not financial planning. They research and rate investments. Certified Fund Specialists are mutual fund experts. CFSs buy and sell funds for clients, and they keep current on the field through continuing education. Chartered Financial Consultants have a thorough knowledge of financial planning. They need three years of experience and must pass an exam that covers income tax, insurance, investing, estate planning and more. Chartered Investment Counselors focus on portfolio management. They must also adhere to a strict code of ethics. People who hold the CIC charter tend to be major players, including the managers of large accounts and mutual funds. A Certified Public Accountant specializes in accounting and tax preparation. CPAs who want expertise in financial planning also become certified as Personal Financial Specialists.