Intro: Detailed Ranking & Review of Certified Financial Group

Certified Financial Group was recently ranked by AdvisoryHQ News as a top-ranked financial advisor and wealth management firm in Florida for 2021, their fourth consecutive year earning this ranking.

In the sections below, we provide a detailed overview, including the key factors that enabled this firm to be ranked as one of the top financial advisory firms in Florida.

Red Award Emblem for Certified Financial Group

About AdvisoryHQ News

Searching for top independent investment advisory firms and providers can be a daunting undertaking for investors, high-net-worth individuals, and consumers, especially if such consumers are unfamiliar with the financial advisory landscape.

AdvisoryHQ is an online news media company that is committed to simplifying the research that consumers conduct before choosing a top provider. Our review articles are always 100% independently researched and written.

For additional information on AdvisoryHQ’s methodologies, click here: AdvisoryHQ Methodologies. For information on AdvisoryHQ’s objectivity approach, click here: AdvisoryHQ’s Objective Process.

Overview of Certified Financial Group Inc.

Certified Financial Group is a top-rated wealth management firm in Florida, headquartered in Altamonte Springs. Tracing its roots back to 1976, the firm is one of the oldest and largest independent financial planning firms in Central Florida, and was recently chosen as one of the top 300 firms in the country by the Financial Times.

As a completely independent firm, their 12 Certified Financial Planner™ professionals have complete freedom to choose the best financial solutions for their clients. There are no proprietary products or third-party arrangements, so clients can be assured, because they are working with a fiduciary, their needs are the only thing guiding recommendations.

Certified Financial Group Building

While all investment management and financial planning is done exclusively on a fee basis, its CFP®   professionals have the flexibility to offer tactical solutions in the areas of long-term health care and 529 educational plans in the traditional broker/client relationship.

CEFEX Certification – Fiduciary Excellence

Certified Advisory Corp, the firm’s registered investment company, has been certified for fiduciary excellence by CEFEX. It is a designation held by less than 1% of registered investment advisors in the country.

In the financial industry, there are two distinct categories of financial professionals – “brokers” and “fiduciaries.” It’s important to know the difference because it speaks to the level of service you’ll receive. A broker works for the firm they represent, but a fiduciary works for you, the client.

Fiduciaries are legally obligated to put the client’s best interest first in all they do, and they’re held to a higher standard when it comes to client care. Fiduciaries are bound by rules of ethics as well as fiduciary laws and regulations. Not all financial advisors choose to go this extra mile and become fiduciaries and they put their fiduciary commitment in writing.

Not only does Certified Financial Group uphold fiduciary standards, but they are also in the top 1% of US financial advisory firms. What this means is that they proactively have a third-party audit by the Centre for Fiduciary Excellence (CEFEX) performed to confirm their adherence to fiduciary responsibilities.

This demonstrates a level of trustworthiness and customer care that’s a step above most others, giving any client working with Certified Financial a feeling of security.

Community Supporters

The team at Certified Financial Group makes a point of giving back to their community. The team donates both their time and financial support to a variety of charitable organizations.

You may see associates of the firm volunteering at events for causes such as the Arthritis Foundation, ALS Association, Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, Habitat for Humanity, Nathaniel’s Hope, and many others.

Client Profile & Client Experience

Although the firm is located in Central Florida, Certified Financial Group assists families throughout the United States with their financial planning and wealth management needs. The firm makes full use of technology and can host virtual meetings with clients anywhere in the world.


The firm specializes in serving clients 50+, those that are or are soon to be retired.

Some of the financial challenges that the expert advisors at Certified Financial help clients overcome include things like maintaining savings after the passing of a spouse and reducing the cost of portfolio management to increase gains while minimizing downside risk.


The firm helps employers by designing and managing retirement plans for corporations, not-for-profits, and government organizations. Through Certified Benefits Corp, advisors provide a unique mix of an SEC Registered Investment Advisor® with innovative third-party administration and recordkeeping.

Comprehensive Client Experience

Some people avoid going to a financial advisor because they’re afraid of the experience. They don’t want to feel pressured or confused about their finances and how they should be handled.

Certified Financial Group’s CFP® professionals go out of their way to simplify the client experience to make people feel at ease. Their approach involves a comprehensive 4-step process that’s designed to address questions and discuss finances and priorities in a commonsense way.

  • Step 1: Your First Visit
    There is no obligation during your initial visit with a Certified Financial Group advisor. They will sit down with you and discuss your financial priorities, what you’d like to achieve, and also explain the working relationship with a CFP® professional financial advisor.
  • Step 2: Your Customized Plan
    If you’ve decided to work with the firm, you’ll move on to step two with your personal CFP® advisor. This involves creating a tailored financial plan that is designed around your current financial situation while also working to achieve your goals for the future.
  • Step 3: Put Your Plan into Action
    Certified Financial Group believes in giving clients options that best fit their needs. At step three, you can either choose to put your financial plan into action yourself or you can keep working with your CFP® advisor and have them take the lead.
  • Step 4: Monitor, Review, and Adjust
    If you’re working with your Certified Financial Group advisor to implement your financial plan, then they will become your “financial doctor.” This means they’ll continue to provide periodic check-ups and ongoing advice for any adjustments that need to be made to keep your strategy on track.

Certified Financial Group Advisory Team

The professional team at Certified Financial Group has an impressive 300+ years of combined knowledge and experience. This provides clients with a safety net that only hard-won experience can give when it comes to knowing the markets, mitigating risk, and understanding investment and estate planning best practices.

One quality that makes the Certified Financial team stand out, and that you won’t find at many other financial advisory firms, is that every financial planner on the firm’s staff is a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®).

CFP® Professionals

The significance of having all financial planners at the firm hold a CFP® designation is that this entails upholding a formal code of ethics as well as continuing education requirements. This designation points to a high level of professionalism and desire to give clients the best financial guidance possible.

Experience and knowledge are two of the hallmarks of the “Certified Difference” and this is evidenced by the fact that most financial planners on the team have more than one professional designation.

Designations of the advisors at Certified Financial Group include:

  • Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®)
  • Accredited Investment Fiduciary® (AIF®)
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • National Social Security Advisor (NSSA®)

The financial planning team at Certified Financial Group includes the following professionals.

Gary Abely - Certified Financial GroupGary Abely

Aaron Bert - Certified Financial GroupAaron Bert

Joseph Bert - Certified Financial GroupJoseph Bert

Nancy Hecht - Certified Financial GroupNancy Hecht

Roger Johnson - Certified Financial GroupRoger Johnson

Denise Kovach - Certified Financial GroupDenise Kovach

Rodney Ownby - Certified Financial GroupRodney Ownby

Barry Smith - Certified Financial GroupBarry Smith

Justin Spitler - Certified Financial GroupJustin Spitler

Harry Stadelmayer - Certified Financial GroupHarry Stadelmayer

Chris Toadvine - Certified Financial GroupChris Toadvine

Todd Tocco - Certified Financial GroupTodd Tocco

Individual Financial Services

Whether your focus is on making your retirement last through your golden years, or getting a smart portfolio together to build your nest egg, the team at Certified Financial Group has you covered. The firm offers an array of popular financial services for individuals.

Video of Certified Financial Group

Certified Financial Group Video

Retirement Planning

Certified Financial has a retirement process roadmap for those individuals hoping to move towards a secure retirement. The road map is designed to answer common questions, such as:

  • Will I be able to retire when I want to?
  • Will I have enough money to support retirement?
  • When should I start Social Security?

It’s important to have a clear picture of where you stand in relation to retirement so you can make the right financial decisions. The CPA® professionals at Certified Financial Group guide individuals and families through the retirement planning process and can give them a comprehensive plan, no matter how close they are to retirement.

Investment Planning

The advisors at Certified Financial take a disciplined approach to investment planning and management. They deliver well-diversified investment strategies by taking investors through several steps.

These include working with you to set investment goals, understanding your “investment personality,” selecting specific investments for a customized portfolio, and continuing to manage, monitor, and rebalance as needed.

Some of the investment criteria the firm uses to select investments for clients are:

  • Performance relative to peers
  • Risk-adjusted performance relative to peers
  • Style consistency
  • Composition consistent with asset class
  • Minimum track record
  • Regulatory oversight

Financial Planning

Financial planning is another area where the advisors at Certified Financial Group customize solutions to fit each individual client.

Planning begins with a no-obligation visit where an advisor can help you get a clear picture of how you could reach your future financial goals. Your personal advisor helps put your plan into action and continues to monitor, review, and recalibrate it as needed to meet your objectives.

Social Security Planning

Social Security is something that impacts just about everyone at some point in their life, and there is often confusion about how it works and what the benefits are. This wealth management firm in Florida can help people sort through all of these questions and misconceptions and help them understand how to maximize their Social Security earnings.

According to Certified Financial Group, Social Security benefits make up approximately 20% – 50% of the average middle-income couple’s retirement income, so understanding how to maximize this retirement asset is important.

This Florida wealth management firm has financial advisors that specialize in Social Security benefits and can help clients make smart financial decisions that will help them throughout their retirement.

Estate Planning

For estate planning convenience, Certified Financial Group works with Murphy & Berglund, PLLC, a boutique law firm. This allows clients to have their personal finances and legal affairs coordinated and handled from the same location.

Estate planning offered by this team of professionals can include legacy preservation, handling probate, guardianship, and protecting wealth so it can be passed down through generations.

Certified Financial Group Building

Workshops & Online Learning Center

These top Florida financial advisors make a concerted effort to educate clients and help them be financially savvy. The financial advisors at Certified Financial Group do this in a few distinct ways.

The firm offers monthly workshops and events for its clients on a variety of topics as well as a Learning Center which has helpful online articles on different areas of financial planning.

Those wishing to benefit from both expert financial advice and educational events can take part in one of the firm’s many workshops, which include topics like:

  • Everything You Want to Know About Mutual Funds
  • Countdown to Retirement
  • Healthcare Options in Retirement
  • Key Elements to a Successful Financial Plan

The firm’s Learning Center includes several articles in key areas of financial planning and wealth management. You’ll find topics separated into these main categories:

  • Choosing a financial planner
  • The importance of a fiduciary
  • Planning through life’s stages
  • The rest of the story

More articles on financial topics of all types can be found on the company’s blog. You’ll find regular market watch articles there as well to keep you updated on market conditions. You’ll also find articles related to family life, local activities, and much more.

Radio Show & Podcast “On the Money”

Another standout feature of Certified Financial Group is that the firm hosts its own radio show and podcast. This is another testament to the expertise of the advisors and their desire to help Floridians and others with advice that can make a big difference in their financial lives.

On the Money Podcast

The show, “On the Money,” airs every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on NEWS 96.5 FM WDBO. It’s one of the area’s most listened-to financial call-in shows. The show is also available on Facebook Live and on podcast platforms.

Each week a different financial topic is discussed, and listeners can send in questions they have about financial planning and management. Past episodes are available on the show’s website.

Certified Financial Group Contact Information

1111 Douglas Ave
Altamonte Springs, FL 32714
1939 Maguire Rd, Suite 106
Windermere, FL  34786

Email: [email protected]
Phone: (407) 869-9800

Office Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Contact Page

Social Media Links:

AdvisoryHQ’s Objective Standards & Our Personalized Page Service

This Certified Financial Group review was independently conducted by AdvisoryHQ.

Our focus is on the everyday consumer. All of our research and publications are conducted from the end-user consumer’s perspective, and we publish our top-ranking reviews for anyone to view for free.

Both ranked and non-ranked firms can also request to have a separate personalized profile, like the one above, which incurs a charge. 

For additional information on AdvisoryHQ’s methodologies, click here: AdvisoryHQ Methodologies. For information on AdvisoryHQ’s objectivity approach, click here: AdvisoryHQ’s Objective Process.

Image Sources:


AdvisoryHQ (AHQ) Disclaimer:

Reasonable efforts have been made by AdvisoryHQ to present accurate information, however all info is presented without warranty. Review AdvisoryHQ’s Terms for details. Also review each firm’s site for the most updated data, rates and info.

Note: Firms and products, including the one(s) reviewed above, may be AdvisoryHQ's affiliates. Click to view AdvisoryHQ's advertiser disclosures.