facebook twitter instagram linkedin google youtube vimeo tumblr yelp rss email podcast phone blog search brokercheck brokercheck Play Pause

Professional Designations

CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst)

This designation is offered by the CFA Institute (formerly the Association for Investment Management and Research [AIMR]). To obtain the CFA charter, candidates must successfully complete three difficult exams and have at least 4 years of qualifying work experience, among other requirements. In passing these exams, candidates demonstrate their competence, integrity and extensive knowledge in accounting, ethical and professional standards, economics, portfolio management and security analysis.

CFP® (Certified Financial Planner)

The program is administered by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. Those with the CFP® designation have demonstrated competency in all areas of finance related to financial planning. Candidates complete studies on over 100 topics, including stocks, bonds, taxes, insurance, retirement planning and estate planning. In addition to passing the CFP certification exam, candidates must also complete qualifying work experience and agree to adhere to the CFP Board’s code of ethics and professional responsibility and financial planning standards.

CPA (Certified Public Accountant)

In order to become a CPA in the United States, the candidate must sit for and pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination, which is set by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and administered by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy.

Eligibility to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam is determined by individual State Boards of Accountancy. Typically, the requirement is a U.S. bachelor’s degree which includes a minimum number of qualifying credit hours in accounting and business administration with an additional 1 year study. All CPA candidates must pass the Uniform CPA Examination to qualify for a CPA certificate and license (i.e., permit to practice) to practice public accounting.

CPAs are required to take continuing education courses in order to renew their license. Requirements vary by state. The vast majority of states require 120 hours of CPE every 3 years with a minimum of 20 hours per calendar year. The requirement can be fulfilled through attending live seminars, webcast seminars, or through self-study (textbooks, videos, online courses, all of which require a test to receive credit). As part of the CPE requirement, most states require their CPAs to take an ethics course during every renewal period. Ethics requirements vary by state, and the courses range from 2–8 hours.

CPWA® (Certified Private Wealth Advisor®)

The CPWA® designation signifies that an individual has met initial and on-going experience, ethical, education, and examination requirements for the professional designation, which is centered on private wealth management topics and strategies for high-net-worth clients. Prerequisites for the CPWA® designation are: a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university or one of the following designations or licenses: CIMA®, CIMC ®, CFA®, CFP®, ChFC®, or CPA license; have an acceptable regulatory history as evidenced by FINRA Form U-4 or other regulatory requirements, and five years of experience in financial services or delivering services to high-net-worth clients. CPWA® designees have completed a rigorous educational process that includes self-study requirements, an in-class education component, and successful completion of a comprehensive examination.

CPWA designees are required to adhere to IMCA’s Code of Professional Responsibility and Rules and Guidelines for Use of the Marks. CPWA designees must report 40 hours of continuing education credits, including two ethics hours, every two years to maintain the certification. The designation is administered through Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA). To learn more about the CPWA® designation Click Here

CRPC® (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor®)

The program is administered by the College of Financial Planning. Those with the CRPC® designation have completed a course of study encompassing pre- and post- retirement needs, asset management, estate planning and the entire retirement planning process using models and techniques from real client situations. 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.

EA (Enrolled Agent)

An enrolled agent is a person who has earned the privilege of representing taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service by either passing a three-part comprehensive IRS test covering individual and business tax returns, or through experience as a former IRS employee. Enrolled agent status is the highest credential the IRS awards. Individuals who obtain this elite status must adhere to ethical standards and complete 72 hours of continuing education courses every three years.

IACCP® (Investment Adviser Certified Compliance Professional)

The IACCP® designation is offered by National Regulatory Services and co-sponsored by the Investment Adviser Association (IAA). To obtain the designation candidates must complete a program of study, pass a certifying examination and meet its work experience, ethics and continuing education requirements. 12 hours of Continuing Education are required an on annual basis.

PFS (Personal Financial Specialist)

The PFS credential demonstrates that an individual has met the minimum education, experience and testing required of a CPA in addition to a minimum level of expertise in personal financial planning. To attain the PFS credential, a candidate must hold an unrevoked CPA license, fulfill 3,000 hours of personal financial planning business experience, complete 80 hours of personal financial planning CPE credits, pass a comprehensive financial planning exam and be an active member of the AICPA. A PFS credential holder is required to adhere to AICPA’s Code of Professional Conduct and is encouraged to follow AICPA’s Statement on Responsibilities in Financial Planning Practice. To maintain their PFS credential, the recipient must complete 60 hours of financial planning CPE credits every three years. The PFS credential is administered through the AICPA.

CES™ (Certified Estate and Trust Specialist)

The CES™ designation signifies the individual has received advanced education and training in estate planning and asset repositioning on behalf of financial planning clients. The recipient must hold a bachelor’s degree or complete 2,000 hours of financial services experience, complete a six-module program, pass a comprehensive exam and case study. To maintain the CES™ certification, the recipient must complete 30 hours of CPE credits every two years. The credential is administered through the Institute of Business & Finance.