Credentials & Experience
There are literally hundreds of professional designations in the financial planning industry. But only a few truly indicate a professional’s ability or come from outside governing bodies that require continuing education, experience, or oversight. When searching for an advisor, look for one who holds one or more of the following credentials:
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- Certified Financial Planner (CFP®): has met the CFP Board’s education, examination and experience requirements. CFPs are uniquely qualified to help clients identify financial objectives, and effectively manage their personal finances to achieve those objectives. In addition, the CFP must abide by a code of ethics and meet continuing education requirements.
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA): has met certain educational and experience requirements. A CPA has also passed a comprehensive uniform CPA exam, developed and administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. CPAS must abide by a uniform code of ethics and annually complete 40 hours of continuing education.
- Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF®): designation is granted by the Center of Fiduciary Studies. The AIF must sign and agree to abide by a code of ethics, and annually complete continuing education requirements.
- Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA): The CEPA credential is awarded to participants who complete a five-day executive MBA style program and pass a half-day exam, meet certain experience requirements, abide by a strict code of ethical conduct, and maintain continuing education requirements. The CEPA credential is administered by the Exit Planning Institute® (EPI), the premier international membership organization. EPI’s sole focus is to consult with small business owners to successfully transition out of their business.
- Certified Trust Financial Advisor (CTFA): The Certified Trust
Financial Advisor recognizes a standard of knowledge and competence for the
trust and wealth advisory field. Professionals holding the CTFA designation
obtain excelled knowledge in the areas of fiduciary and trust activities,
financial planning, tax law and planning, investment management, and ethics.
- Master of Science in Taxation (MST): The MST program is an
interdisciplinary program, engaging lawyers and accountants, and is designed to
provide a deep understanding of tax policies and procedures. The core
curriculum focuses on taxation of corporations, partnerships and sole
proprietorships. Elective courses provide an opportunity to focus on areas such
as wealth taxes, accounting for income taxes, taxation of trusts and estates,
executive compensation, charitable gift planning and employee benefits.