AIF®: Accredited Investment Fiduciary®
The AIF designation certifies that the recipient has specialized knowledge of fiduciary standards of care and their application to the investment management process. To receive the AIF designation, individuals must complete a training program, successfully pass a comprehensive, closed-book final examination under the supervision of a proctor and agree to abide by the AIF Code of Ethics. In order to maintain the AIF designation, the individual must annually renew their affirmation of the AIF Code of Ethics and complete six hours of continuing education credits. The certification is administered by the Center for Fiduciary Studies, LLC (a Fiduciary360 (fi360) company).
AIFA®: Accredited Investment Fiduciary Analyst®
The AIFA® designation is a credential awarded by the Center for Fiduciary Studies, LLC, a division of Fiduciary360, to individuals who meet its professional, educational and ethical requirements, and demonstrate a commitment to fiduciary principles. The AIFA® Training is held in a three-day classroom format and culminates with an accreditation examination on fiduciary standards. AIFA® designees are required to abide by the applicable code of ethics and complete 10 hours of continuing education each year on an ongoing basis.
CFP®: CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™
The CFP® certification is a financial planning credential awarded by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. (the "CFP Board") to individuals who meet its education, examination, experience and ethics requirements. Eligible candidates are generally required to have three years of financial planning related experience and possess a bachelor's degree from an accredited U.S. college or university. Certificants are further required to complete a CFP Board Registered Education Program (or possess a qualifying professional credential), clear a personal and professional background check, and pass the CFP® Certification Examination, a ten-hour multiple choice exam divided into three separate sessions. In order to maintain the certification, CFP® designees must also complete at least 30 hours of continuing education every two years on an ongoing basis.
CFA®: Chartered Financial Analyst®
The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) and Certification Mark (collectively, the "CFA marks") are professional certification marks granted in the United States and internationally by the CFA Institute.
The Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) charter is a globally respected, graduate-level investment credential established in 1962 and awarded by CFA Institute — the largest global association of
There are currently more than 150,000 CFA charterholders working in more than 140 countries. To earn the CFA charter, candidates must: 1) pass three sequential, six-hour examinations; 2) have at least four years of qualified professional investment experience; 3) join CFA Institute as members; and 4) commit to abide by, and annually reaffirm, their adherence to the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct.
High Ethical Standards - The CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct, enforced through an active professional conduct program, require CFA charterholders to:
• Place their clients' interests ahead of their own;
• Maintain independence and objectivity;
• Act with integrity;
• Maintain and improve their professional competence; and
• Disclose conflicts of interest and legal matters.
Global Recognition - Passing the three CFA exams is a difficult feat that requires extensive study (successful candidates report spending an average of 300 hours of study per level). Earning the CFA charter demonstrates mastery of many of the advanced skills needed for investment analysis and decision making in today's quickly evolving global financial industry. As a result, employers and clients are increasingly seeking CFA charterholders—often making the charter a prerequisite for employment.
Additionally, regulatory bodies in over 30 countries and territories recognize the CFA charter as a proxy for meeting certain licensing requirements, and more than 125 colleges and universities around
the world have incorporated a majority of the CFA Program curriculum into their own finance courses.
Comprehensive & Current Knowledge - The CFA Program curriculum provides a comprehensive framework of knowledge for investment decision making and is firmly grounded in the knowledge and skills used every day in the investment profession. The three levels of the CFA Program test a proficiency with a wide range of fundamental and advanced investment topics, including ethical and professional standards, fixed-income and equity analysis, alternative and derivative investments, economics, financial reporting standards, portfolio management, and wealth planning.
The CFA Program curriculum is updated every year by experts from around the world to ensure that candidates learn the most relevant and practical new tools, ideas, and investment and wealth management skills to reflect the dynamic and complex nature of the profession. To learn more about the CFA charter, visit www.cfainstitute.org.
ChFC®: Chartered Financial Consultant®
The ChFC® designation is a financial planning credential awarded by the American College to individuals who satisfy its educational, work experience and ethics requirements. Recipients of the ChFC® certification have completed at least seven mandatory college-level courses in the areas of financial, insurance, retirement and/or estate planning, as well as income taxation and/or investments. Additionally, recipients have completed at least two elective courses on the financial system, estate planning applications, executive compensation, and/or retirement decisions. In order to maintain the designation, ChFC® holders must satisfy the ongoing requirements of the Professional Achievement in Continuing Education ("PACE") Recertification Program, which includes 30 hours of continuing education at least every two years.
CLU®: Chartered Life Underwriter®
The CLU® designation is an insurance credential awarded by the American College to individuals who meet its educational, work experience and ethical requirements. Recipients of the CLU® designation have completed five required college-level core courses and three electives, covering all aspects of insurance planning, estate and retirement issues, taxation, business insurance and risk management. Recipients are further required to have three years of full-time business experience and must adhere to the American College Code of Ethics and Procedures. In order to maintain the designation, CLU® holders must satisfy the ongoing requirements of the PACE Recertification Program, which includes 30 hours of continuing education at least every two years.
CPFA®: Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor
The Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor (CPFA®) designation is offered through the National Association of Plan Advisors (NAPA). A CPFA® financial professional demonstrates expertise and experience in working with retirement plans. During the CPFA® certification, individuals spend around two months learning about the fiduciary services for retirement plans. CPFAs can help their clients objectively review their financial status, identify potential concerns and recommend the appropriate solutions foraddressing retirement matters.
To achieve a CPFA® certification, candidates must pass the NAPA CPFA® examination. Unlike other certifications, there are no experience or education requirements. However, for candidates with little to no experience, it is recommended that they take NAPA's 401(k) Practice Builder. All candidates must simply take the course modules, study and then pass their 70-question exam. The CPFA® exam covers an array of topics including fiduciary roles and responsibilities, fiduciary oversight, plan investment management, and plan management.
To maintain the CPFA® designation, all CPFAs must complete 10 continuing education credit requirements each year. Of the 10 credits, NAPA requires one must be on ethics and professional topics. This requirement ensures that the CPFA® is current on their knowledge of retirement plans.
MST: Master's of Science in Taxation
The Master's of Science in Taxation is a degree that focuses on the theoretical and technical aspects of taxes and tax law. People with backgrounds in tax, accounting, finance, or even law may pursue this advanced degree to broaden their knowledge and improve their career opportunities.
The coursework for this degree covers tax theory, tax planning, and accounting. Some programs may also focus on tax issues that arise in the modern global economy. Coursework may touch on various disciplines, including law, economics, social sciences, math, and accounting. Most degree programs combine theoretical knowledge with practical tools aspiring professionals can use in their careers. People who complete the degree should be equipped to perform administrative work or help individuals and corporations handle tax planning. (Source: masterstudies.com)
QKA®: Qualified 401(k) Administrator
The Qualified 401(k) Administrator (QKA® ) program advances knowledge gained in the Retirement Plan Fundamentals (RPF) certificate course. The QKA® program consists of two packages — Plan Management and Testing & Compliance — each comprising nine courses, a practice test and a credential exam.
A typical QKA® works at a recordkeeper, third party administrator (TPA) or consulting group as a client service manager, sales representative, relationship manager, account manager, compliance tester, plan administrator, team leader or other role that interacts daily with the technical aspects of 401(k) plans.
- Read the QKA® Candidate Handbook.
- Have three years of experience in the retirement field or complete the Retirement Plan Fundamentals (RPF) course.
- Pass the QKA-1 Plan Management exam.
- Pass the QKA-2 Testing & Compliance exam.
- Apply for ASPPA (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries) credentialed membership.