Whether you are a novice or a veteran in the financial services industry, earning a professional title can bring many benefits. Increasing exposure, credibility and compensation are just some of the advantages conferred by certification. However, the proliferation of designations, especially in the area of financial planning, complicates the process of trying to determine which designation will benefit them the most. In this article, we will review these professional names and their requirements.
Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
The Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation is one of the most widely recognized certificates in the financial planning industry. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and complete college or university-level courses through the CFP Board Registered Program, of which there are more than 300 in the United States.
Course assignments cover professional conduct and regulations; general principles of financial planning; education planning; risk management and insurance planning; investment planning; tax planning; retirement savings and income planning; and estate planning.Students must take the board exam, which is 170 questions, divided into two parts, each of which lasts three hours.Other requirements include 4,000 to 6,000 years of professional experience and 30 hours of continuing education every two years.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is the name that helps implement professional standards in the accounting industry. CPAs have a wide range of career choices, whether it is public accounting or corporate accounting. CPAs are known for their role in income tax preparation, but they can also specialize in many other areas such as auditing, bookkeeping, forensic accounting, management accounting, and information technology. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) awarded the title of CPA.
Candidates must complete 150 hours of education. The number of accounting hours varies from state to state. The required unified CPA exam covers four areas: audit and assurance, business environment and concepts, financial accounting and reporting, and supervision. The minimum passing score is 75%. Other requirements may include one to two years of work experience (regulated by the state), 40 hours of continuing education per year, and ethics exams.
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is a globally recognized professional title awarded by the CFA Institute. This title measures and proves the competence and integrity of financial analysts. People who have obtained this title usually become portfolio managers or analysts of various financial institutions.
Candidates must have completed a four-year college or university degree, or they must have at least four years of professional work experience. All CFA candidates must hold an international travel passport.
There are three exams to pass. On average, each person invests more than 300 hours in four years to complete the plan.The exam covers ethical and professional standards, quantitative methods, economics, financial reporting and analysis, corporate finance, equity investment, fixed income, derivatives, alternative investments, and portfolio management and wealth planning.Approximately 40% of candidates passed the Level 1 exam. The pass rate of candidates taking the Level 2 and Level 3 exams has increased.
Registered agents are professionals who are allowed to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). To qualify, individuals must pass a three-part test covering personal and corporate tax returns, or they must have experience as former IRS employees. The registered agent status is the highest certificate granted by the US Internal Revenue Service. Individuals who receive this title must abide by ethical standards and complete 72 hours of continuing education every three years. Registered agents, such as lawyers and certified public accountants, have unlimited rights to practice. They are not restricted in terms of which taxpayers they can represent, what types of tax matters they can handle, and the IRS offices that they can previously represent clients.
Chartered Life Insurer (CLU)
Chartered Life Insurer (CLU) is a professional name for individuals who want to specialize in life insurance and estate planning. CFP holders usually add CLU to their certificate to demonstrate additional subject matter expertise. The American Institute of Financial Services is the issuing institution of CLU.
Educational requirements are the five core courses of insurance planning, personal life insurance, life insurance law, estate planning, and planning for business owners and professionals. Three elective courses are also required. Candidates must have three years of business experience within the five years before the designation is awarded.
Chartered Financial Advisor (ChFC)
Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) is a professional name that represents the completion of a comprehensive course consisting of financial education, examinations and practical experience. Those who have received this title are considered to be well-versed in financial issues and capable of providing reasonable advice. The American Institute of Financial Services is the issuing institution of ChFC.
There are eight compulsory courses: financial planning, insurance planning, income tax, retirement planning, investment, estate planning, personal financial planning and contemporary applications of financial planning. Candidates must have three years of business experience within the five years before the designation is awarded.
Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS)
A certified employee benefit specialist is the title of a professional who sells or manages employee benefit plans. Certified employee benefits specialists must have a comprehensive understanding of salary structure, health insurance, and disability insurance. The International Employee Benefit Plan Foundation is the issuing agency.
There are five compulsory courses covering welfare plan management, strategic welfare management and retirement plan management. Each course requires the completion of a comprehensive exam of 100 questions.CEBS holders must complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years.
Chartered Property Insurance Underwriter (CPCU)
A Chartered Property Insurance Underwriter (CPCU) is a professional certificate obtained by individuals who specialize in risk management and property insurance. CPCU is most likely to be earned by insurance agents and brokers, insurance claims representatives, risk managers and underwriters. It is provided by the Institute.
There are four core courses, one elective course and three intensive courses in commercial underwriting or personal underwriting. Candidates must have at least two years of risk management and insurance experience.Candidates must obtain a minimum score of 70% in the exam to pass.CPCU holders must complete 24 hours of continuing education every two years.
Financial professionals can use more than 200 names, all of which have different requirements and industry reputations.Candidates need to strike a balance between the time and cost of obtaining the designation and the economic benefits of the designation.
Two professional titles with less stringent academic requirements include Certified Asset Management Specialist (AAMS)And a licensed international financial analyst (LIFA).
Some names are no longer available, indicating that their relevance has declined. For example, the American Academy of Financial Services has stopped offering titles such as Chartered Senior Advisors and Registered Health Insurers.The Chartered Mutual Fund Advisor (CMFC) was once provided by the School of Financial Planning.However, the name no longer appears on the company’s website.