Professional Designation Information
Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) —The CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® and federally registered CFP (with flame design) marks (collectively, the “CFP® marks”) are professional certification marks granted in 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 CFP® certification. It is recognized in the United States and a number of other countries for its (1) high standard of professional education; (2) stringent code of conduct and standards of practice; and (3) ethical requirements that govern professional engagements with clients. Currently, more than 71,000 individuals have obtained CFP® certification in the United States.
To attain the right to use the CFP® marks, an individual must satisfactorily fulfill the following requirements:
1) 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 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; 2) 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; 3) Complete at least three years of full-time financial planning-related experience (or the equivalent, measured as 2,000 hours per year); and 4) 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.
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) — Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is a professional designation given by the CFA Institute, formerly AIMR, that measures the competence and integrity of financial analysts. Candidates are required to pass three levels of exams covering areas such as accounting, economics, ethics, money management, and security analysis. Before becoming a CFA charter holder, a candidate must meet one of the following educational requirements. He/she must have four years of professional work experience, a bachelor’s degree or be in the final year of the bachelor’s degree program, or a combination of professional work experience and education totaling four years. For the undergraduate qualification, the bachelor’s program must be completed before registering for the Level II exam. In addition to the educational requirement, the candidate must have an international passport, complete the assessment in English, meet the professional conduct admission criteria, and live in a participating country. After meeting the enrollment requirements, the candidate must pass all three levels of the CFA program in sequential order. He/she must then become a member of the CFA Institute and pay annual dues. Finally, he/she must sign off annually that he/she is following the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct. Failure to adhere to the ethics and standards is grounds for possible lifetime revocation of the CFA charter.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA) —CPAs are licensed and regulated by their state boards of accountancy. While state laws and regulations vary, the education, experience and testing requirements for licensure as a CPA generally include minimum college education, minimum experience levels, and successful passage of the Uniform CPA Examination. In order to maintain a CPA license, states generally require the completion of 40 hours of continuing professional education each year. Additionally, all American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) members are required to follow a rigorous Code of Professional Conduct which requires that they act with integrity, objectivity, due care and competence, fully disclose any conflicts of interest (and obtain client consent if a conflict exists), maintain client confidentiality, disclose to the client any commission or referral fees, and serve the public interest when providing financial services.
Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA®) — Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst is a professional certification granted by the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst Association, a global provider of alternative investment education. To become a CAIA Charter Holder, candidates are required to do the following: 1) Pass both the CAIA Level I and Level II exams. 2) Hold a bachelor’s degree, or the equivalent, and have more than one year of professional experience, or alternatively have at least four years of professional experience. Professional experience is defined as full-time employment in a professional capacity within the regulatory, banking, financial, or related fields. 3) Agree on an annual basis to abide by the Member Agreement. 4) Provide two (2) professional references. 5) Submit payment for the annual CAIA Association membership fee. Membership is the final requirement for individuals who wish to use the CAIA designation.
Investment Advisor Certified Compliance Professional (IACCP®) — The NRS Investment Adviser Certified Compliance Professional® (IACCP®) program, co-sponsored by the Investment Adviser Association (IAA), is a professional education program granting the designation, Investment Adviser Certified Compliance Professional (IACCP®), to individuals who complete an online and/or in-person instructor-led program of study, pass a certifying examination, and meet its work experience, ethics and continuing education requirements.
The program provides a step-by-step examination of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and related state and federal regulations, provide guidance for building a strong compliance program, and highlights best practices that can immediately be implemented at firms.
Certified Trust and Financial Advisor (CTFA®) – Certified Trust and Financial Advisor is a professional designation given by the American Bankers Association. To receive the Certified Trust and Financial Advisor designation, candidates must have a minimum level of wealth management work experience and approved training programs. Applicants are also required to pass an examination successfully. Continuing education is needed to maintain the CTFA designation.
Applicants must have three years of experience in wealth management and meet one of the specified training options. In addition to satisfying these requirements, applicants are required to sign the ABA Professional Certifications’ Code of Ethics statement.
Financial Paraplanner Qualified Professional™ (FPQP™) –Individuals who hold the FPQP™ designation have completed a course of study encompassing the financial planning process, the five disciplines of financial planning, and general financial planning concepts, terminology and product categories. Additionally, individuals must pass an end-of-course examination that tests their ability to synthesize complex concepts and apply theoretical concepts to real-life situations. All designees have agreed to adhere to Standards of Professional Conduct and are subject to a disciplinary process. Designees renew their designation every two-years by completing 16 hours of continuing education, reaffirming adherence to the Standards of Professional Conduct and complying with self-disclosure requirements.
Juris Doctor (J.D.) — J.D. denotes the form of law degree issued by most of the nation’s law schools and forms one of the educational prerequisites to the practice of law. Most law schools require a four-year baccalaureate degree for admission, and law school is generally a three-year (six-semester) course of graduate-level study.
Master of Business Administration (MBA) — MBA denotes a postgraduate qualification awarded after a period of study of topics relating to the strategic management of businesses. A Master of Business Administration course of study can be taken at a business school or university and covers areas such as finance, personnel and resource management, as well as the wider business environment.