Professional Designations

Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC®)

The ChFC ® designation has been a mark of excellence for almost thirty years and currently requires nine college-level courses, the most of any financial planning credential. Average study time to earn the ChFC ® exceeds 450 hours. Required courses cover extensive education and application training in financial planning, income taxation, investments, and estate and retirement planning. Additional electives are chosen from such topics as macroeconomics, financial decisions for retirement, and executive compensation. ChFC ® designees must meet experience requirements and adhere to continuing education and ethical standards. The credential is awarded by The American College, a non-profit educator founded in 1927 and the highest level of academic accreditation.

CFP®: (CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™)

The CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® and federally registered professional certification marks (collectively, the “CFP® marks”) granted by the United States by Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (“CFP® Board”). The CFP® certification is a voluntary certification; no federal or state law or regulation requires financial planners to hold a CFP® certification. To attain the right to use the CFP® designation, an individual must satisfactorily fulfill the following requirements:

  • Education – Complete an advanced college‐level course of study addressing the financial planning subject areas that CFP Board’s studies have determined as necessary for the competent and professional delivery of financial planning services, and as of January 2007, attain a Bachelor’s Degree from a regionally accredited United States college or university (or its equivalent from a foreign university). CFP Board’s financial planning subject areas include insurance planning and risk management, employee benefits planning, investment planning, income tax planning, retirement planning, and estate planning;
  • Examination – Pass the comprehensive CFP® Certification Examination. The examination includes case studies and Client scenarios designed to test one’s ability to correctly diagnose financial planning issues and apply one’s knowledge of financial planning to real world circumstances;
  • Experience – Complete at least three years of full‐time financial planning‐related experience (or the equivalent, measured as 2,000 hours per year); and
  • Ethics – Agree to be bound by CFP Board’s Standards of Professional Conduct, a set of documents outlining the ethical and practice standards for CFP® professionals.

Individuals who become certified must complete ongoing education and ethics requirements in order to maintain the right to continue to use the CFP® marks. This requires 30 hours of continuing education hours every two years, including two hours on the Code of Ethics and other parts of the Standards of Professional Conduct, to maintain competence and keep up with developments in the financial planning field; and renewal of an agreement to be bound by the Standards of Professional Conduct. The Standards prominently require that CFP® professionals provide financial planning services at a fiduciary standard of care. This means CFP® professionals must provide financial planning services in the best interests of their Clients.

CFP® professionals who fail to comply with the above standards and requirements may be subject to CFP Board’s enforcement process, which could result in suspension or permanent revocation of their CFP® certification.

Accredited Asset Management Specialist (AAMS®)

The AAMS® is awarded by the College for financial Planning to investment professionals who complete its 12-module AAMS® Professional Education Program, pass an examination, commit to a code of ethics, and agree to pursue continuing education. Continued use of the AAMS designation is subject to ongoing renewal requirements. Every two (2) years the designee must renew their right to continue using the AAMS® designation by completing 16 hours of continuing education and reaffirming to abide by the Standards of Professional Conduct.

Chartered Mutual Fund Counselor (CMFC®)

The College for Financial Planning provides CMFC® students with a thorough education focusing exclusively on mutual funds. The CMFC® program emphasizes how to thoroughly evaluate mutual funds as well as how to use that information to make appropriate recommendations. Individuals who hold the CMFC® designation have completed a course of study encompassing all aspects of mutual funds and their uses as investment vehicles. The program is designed for approximately 120-150 hours of self-study. The program is self-paced and must be completed within one year from enrollment. All CMFC® designees must sign a commitment to ongoing continuing education credit to ensure that they stay current in the field.

Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

CPAs provide a wide range of services and are employed in public accounting and other professional services firms, business and industry, government, and education. CPAs in public practice are engaged by their Clients for a variety of services including accounting, auditing, tax, personal financial planning, technology consulting and business valuation. CPAs employed in business, industry, and government are likewise responsible for activities from accounting and financial reporting, implementing and managing internal controls and information systems, to compliance with tax and other laws and regulations and other areas of business and financial management.

The requirements, which are set by each state board of accountancy, include: completing a program of study in accounting at a college or university, passing the Uniform CPA Exam, and obtaining a specific amount of professional work experience in public accounting (the required amount and type of experience varies according to licensing jurisdiction).

Personal Financial Specialist (PFS™)

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) established a credential for CPAs who specialize in various areas of financial planning. In order to receive the credential, CPAs must pass the exam requirement that covers the planning process and professional responsibilities and disciplines that make up personal financial planning, including tax, estate, retirement, investments, and insurance planning as well as a few niche areas like employee benefits, education and elder planning. The Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) credential is granted solely to CPAs with considerable PFS education and experience who want to demonstrate their knowledge, skill, and experience by earning this exclusive credential.

Candidates must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Be a member of the AICPA
  • Hold an unrevoked CPA certificate issued by a state authority
  • Have at least two years of full‐time teaching or business experience (or 3000 hours equivalent) in personal financial planning within the five‐year period preceding the data of the CPA/PFS application

Education requirements are a minimum of 75 hours of personal financial planning education within the five-year period preceding the date of the PFS application. Candidates must pass a final certification exam. 60 hours (or its equivalent of continuing professional education every three years is required.

NOTE: The achievement of any professional designation, certification, degree, or license, recognition by publications, media, or other organizations, membership in any professional organization, or any amount of prior experience or success, should not be construed by a client or prospective client as a guarantee that he/she will experience a certain level of results or satisfaction if CPC is engaged, or continues to be engaged, to provide investment advisory services.

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