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A Word About Designations
Accredited Estate Planner®, AEP®
The Accredited Estate Planner® (AEP®) designation is a graduate level specialization in estate planning, obtained in addition to already recognized professional credentials within the various disciplines of estate planning. It is awarded by the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils (NAEPC) to estate planning professionals who meet stringent requirements of experience, knowledge, education professional reputation and character.
Accredited Portfolio Management Advisor℠, APMA®
Accredited Investment Fiduciary, AIF®
The AIF® designation is the first and only designation that demonstrates knowledge and competency in the area of fiduciary responsibility. Holders must successfully pass an exam, sign and adhere to a written code of ethics and complete four hours of continuing education credits each year. AIF® designees have a reputation in the industry as being the best positioned to implement a prudent process into their own investment practices, as well as being able to assist others in implementing proper policies and procedures.
Certified Financial Planner™, CFP®
To use the CFP credential, the financial planner must successfully complete the CFP® Board’s comprehensive examination which tests his or her knowledge on a number of key financial planning topics. The applicant must also have three to five years of related experience, voluntarily ascribe to the board’s code of ethics and complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years pertaining to such relevant topics as estate and retirement planning, investment management, tax planning and insurance.
Certified IRA Services Professional, CISP
The Certified IRA Services Professional certification was designed to show a high standard of knowledge and competency for IRA’s that is acknowledged by the profession and gives formal recognition to those individuals meeting specific standards of experience, ethics, knowledge and performance in the IRA industry.
Certified Public Accountant, CPA
A CPA is a certified public accountant and is licensed by the state. In California, to earn the prestige associated with the CPA license, individuals are required to demonstrate their knowledge and competence by passing the Uniform CPA Exam, meeting high educational standards and completing a specified amount of general accounting experience.
Chartered Financial Analyst®, CFA® charter, CFA® Charterholder
Since it was first introduced in 1963, the Chartered Financial Analyst® designation, or CFA charter, has become the most respected and recognized investment credential in the world. The CFA Program emphasizes the highest ethical and professional standards. Earning the CFA charter demonstrates mastery of the skills most needed for real-world investment analysis, portfolio management and decision making in today’s fast-evolving global financial industry.
CFA Institute does not endorse, promote or warrant the accuracy or quality of Pure Financial Advisors. CFA® and Chartered Financial Analyst® are registered trademarks owned by CFA Institute.
Chartered Financial Consultant®, ChFC®
The Chartered Financial Consultant® designation is one of the highest standards of trust and knowledge in financial planning. The ChFC® extensive educational program includes nine or more college-level courses on all aspects of financial planning from The American College, a non-profit educator with the highest level of academic accreditation. The average study time is 400 hours and advisors often spend years earning this coveted distinction. Each ChFC® must also complete a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education every two years, adhere to strict ethical standards and meet extensive experience requirements to ensure that the client gets the professional financial advice he or she needs.
Chartered Life Underwriter®, CLU®
The CLU® is widely considered to be the most respected insurance designation in the industry.It represents a thorough understanding of a broad array of personal risk management and life insurance planning issues and stresses ethics, professionalism, and in-depth knowledge in the delivery of financial advice.
Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor, CRPC®
The CRPC program is developed with a focus on client-centered problem solving. Applicants gain in-depth knowledge of individuals’ needs both before and after retirement. The study program to become a CRPC covers the entire retirement planning process, including meeting multiple financial objectives, sources of retirement income, personal savings, employer-sponsored retirement plans, income taxes, retirement cash flow, asset management, estate planning and more.
Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist℠, CRPS®
The Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist℠ or CRPS® designation is the nation’s premier credential focusing on retirement plan administration. The study program to become a CRPS covers types and characteristics of retirement plans, including IRAs, small business retirement plans, defined contribution plans, 401(k) plans and nonprofit and government plans. It also covers plan distributions, plan design and implementation, plan establishment and operation, and fiduciary issues.Every two years, CRPS professionals must complete 16 hours of continuing education and pay a nominal fee to continue using the designation.
Doctor of Philosophy, PhD
A PhD is a globally recognized postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities and higher education institutions to a candidate who has submitted a thesis or dissertation, based on extensive and original research in their chosen field. The PhD is the highest level of degree a student can achieve with few exceptions.
Investment Advisor Certified Compliance Professional®, IACCP®
The IACCP program, developed by NRS in 2004 and co-sponsored with the Investment Adviser Association (IAA) since 2007, is designed to help compliance professionals increase their knowledge of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and help ensure the ongoing success of their firms’ compliance programs. Earning the IACCP designation helps firms demonstrate to clients and the SEC that they proactively support an educated staff and a culture of compliance. The IACCP® is awarded to knowledgeable, experienced individuals who complete a program of twenty two-hour courses, pass a certifying examination, meet work experience, ethics and annual continuing education requirements. The designation signifies knowledge of investment adviser regulation and compliance best practice, and adherence to nationally recognized professional standards and ethical leadership. For further information please click here.
Juris Doctor, JD
The Juris Doctor (JD) degree is usually required to practice law in the United States. It is considered the first degree in law and is required for eligibility to sit for the bar examination. Gaining admission to the bar means obtaining a license to practice law in a particular state or in federal court. The specific requirements for a JD vary from school to school. Generally, the requirements include completing a minimum number of class hours each academic period, and taking certain mandatory courses such as contracts, torts, civil procedure and criminal law in the first year of law school. All states require that students pass a course on professional responsibility before receiving a JD degree.
Master of Business Administration, MBA
The Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a postgraduate degree that is awarded to students who have mastered the study of business. This prestigious degree is thought to be one of the most sought after degrees in the world.
Most MBA programs include a “core” curriculum of subjects, such as accounting, economics, marketing, and operations, as well as elective courses that allow participants to follow their own personal or professional interests.
Master of Science in Business Administration, MSBA
The Master of Science in Business Administration degree is earned after successfully completing the Master of Business Administration degree from an accredited institution. A person holding this degree has pursued further study in an area of specialization (i.e. financial and tax planning) subsequent to completing the MBA.
Registered Financial Consultant, RFC
To obtain the RFC credential, one must have a minimum of four years of experience as a full-time practitioner in the field of financial planning. They must possess a baccalaureate or graduate degree in financial planning services or hold one of the following professional degrees or designations: AAMS, CFA, CFP®, ChFC, CLU, CPA, EA or JD. The RFC designation requires 40 hours of Continuing Education every year, including two hours of business ethics every two years. All RFC’s must adhere to the RFC Code of Ethics and must have a sound record of business integrity.
Enrolled Agent, EA
Enrolled agent status is the highest credential the IRS awards. An enrolled agent is a person who has earned the privilege of representing taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service by either passing a comprehensive IRS exam covering individual and business tax returns, or through experience as a former IRS employee. Individuals who obtain this status must adhere to ethical standards and complete 72 hours of continuing education courses every three years.