The Accredited Investment Fiduciary® (AIF®) designation is granted by the Center for Fiduciary Studies, a Fiduciary360 (fi360) company. To obtain the AIF® designation, candidates must study fi360’s Prudent Practices and their legal basis, demonstrate the ability to apply the Prudent Practices in their own investment practices, and pass a proctored exam. An AIF® designee is able to define and encourage fiduciary standards, identify legal standards that require fiduciaries to prudently manage investment decisions, and apply the Practices that define a prudent investment process. After obtaining the designation, designees must complete 6 hours of continuing education hours annually and agree to comply with a Code of Ethics.
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 62,000 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:
- 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 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, administered in 10 hours over a two-day period, 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 the following ongoing education and ethics requirements in order to maintain the right to continue to use the CFP® marks:
- Continuing Education – Complete 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
- Ethics – Renew 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.
The Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® (CRPC®) is granted by the College for Financial Planning. The CRPC® is available to financial professionals that demonstrate a specialized understanding of the principles of the retirement planning field of the pre- and post-retirement needs of individuals, including issues such as estate planning and asset management. Candidates must complete 11 modules followed by a final, proctored exam. After obtaining the designation, designees must complete 16 hours of continuing education every two years as well as comply with a Code of Ethics, which includes agreeing to abide by the Standards of Professional Conduct and Terms and Conditions.
An Enrolled Agent (EA) is an individual who has earned the privilege of practicing (i.e. representing taxpayers) before the Internal Revenue Service and is unrestricted as to which taxpayers they can represent, what types of tax matters they can handle, and which IRS offices they can practice before. To obtain this designation, candidates must either demonstrate special competence in tax matter by passing a written examination or possessing five continuous years of past service and technical experience with the IRS. All candidates must pass a background check that ensures the candidate has not engaged in any conduct that would justify the suspension or disbarment of an attorney, CPA, or enrolled agent from practice before the IRS. After obtaining the EA status, designees must complete 16 hours of continuing education hours every year.