Earning a professional designation can provide multiple benefits for your career as a financial advisor. A well-designed educational program will increase your knowledge, which can help you serve clients more effectively. Having a professional designation can also boost your credibility with clients and prospects, which in turn can assist with business development.
There is a veritable alphabet soup of financial services designations available. Some state securities and insurance regulators do not allow financial professionals to use a designation — in particular a “senior” designation — unless it has been accredited by either the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) (a subsidiary of the American National Standards Institute) or the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).
Here’s a list of accredited designations and several others that are widely recognized:
Designations Accredited by ANAB
Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF)
Governing organization: Center for Fiduciary Studies
Purpose: Provide investment professionals with fiduciary knowledge and tools
Prerequisites: Candidate must meet a point-based threshold based on a combination of education, relevant industry experience and/or professional development.
Study formats: Online, virtual or blended
Cost: Online: $1,595; Blended and virtual: $1,950
Continuing education requirement: 6 hours per year
Number of designees: 11,000+
Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA)
Governing organization: Investments & Wealth Institute
Purpose: Certified Investment Management Analyst® (CIMA®) is a professional certification for financial advisors and investment consultants in advanced portfolio construction.
Prerequisites: Candidate must have three years of financial services experience and a satisfactory record of ethical conduct, as determined by Investments & Wealth Institute Admissions Committee.
Study formats: Online self-paced, or weekly virtual sessions lasting approx. 3.5 months
Cost: $4,500 online, or $4,950 weekly virtual sessions
Continuing education requirement: 40 hours every two years
Number of designees: 8,500+
Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)
Governing organization: Society of Certified Senior Advisors (Also accredited by the NCCA)
Purpose: Certified Senior Advisors (CSAs) apply multidisciplinary knowledge of the aging process and aging issues to identify the most appropriate options and solutions for seniors’ individual needs and best interests to improve their lives.
Prerequisites: Candidate information profile; disclosure questionnaire; comprehensive background check; submit signed CSA application for certification; agree to abide by and uphold the CSA Code of Professional Responsibility
Study formats: Online, live virtual or in-person options. Exam-only option available.
Cost: Exam-only option: $395; course materials: $400. Online plus exam: $1,190; in-person or virtual class plus exam: $1,290
Continuing education requirement: 30 CSA CE credits every three years
Number of designees: 2,800
Certified Private Wealth Advisor (CPWA)
Governing organization: Investments &…….