Professional Designation Explanation
CFP ® – Certified Financial Planner
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 87,000 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:
– 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.
– 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.
– 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:
– 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®.
CDFA ™ – Certified Divorce Financial Analyst
A certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA) helps couples and their attorneys achieve equitable divorce settlements using knowledge of tax law, asset distribution, and short- and long-term financial planning.
A CDFA can provide in-depth financial analysis and advice to attorneys and couples relating to the divorce.
CDFAs are required to have several years of relevant experience and pass an exam designed by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts (IDFA) to receive the designation.
CWS® – Certified Wealth Strategist®
The Certified Wealth Strategist® is a certification for professionals working in the affluent and high-net-worth market segments in the financial services industry.
A Certified Wealth Strategist® is prepared to help clarify goals, create a strategy to realize them, and is capable of reshaping that strategy when circumstances change.
CFA® – Chartered Financial Analyst®
The Chartered Financial Analyst™ (“CFA®”) charter is a professional designation established in 1962 and awarded by CFA® Institute. To earn the CFA® charter, candidates must pass three sequential, six-hour examinations over two to four years. The three levels of the CFA® Program test a wide range of investment topics, including ethical and professional standards, fixed-income analysis, alternative and derivative investments, and portfolio management and wealth planning. Also, CFA® charter holders must have at least four years of acceptable professional experience in the investment decision-making process and must commit to abide by, and annually reaffirm their adherence to the CFA® Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct. CFA® is a trademark owned by CFA® Institute.
AIF® – Accredited Investment Fiduciary
Accredited Investment Fiduciary® (AIF®) Designees can demonstrate that they have met educational, competence, conduct and ethical standards to carry out a fiduciary standard of care and serve the best interests of their clients.
The purpose of the AIF® Designation is to assure that those responsible for managing or advising on investor assets have a fundamental understanding of the principles of fiduciary duty, the standards of conduct for acting as a fiduciary, and a process for carrying out fiduciary responsibility.