What is a CFP®?
A CFP® is a 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, agree to adhere to the CFP Board’s code of ethics and professional responsibility and financial planning standards and complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years.
What is a CPA?
A CPA is a 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. bachelors 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.
What is a CFA?
A CFA is a Chartered Financial Analyst. The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Program is a professional credential offered by the CFA Institute. A candidate who successfully completes the program and meets other professional requirements is awarded a CFA charter. The CFA charter is a qualification for finance and investment professionals, particularly in the fields of investment management and financial analysis of stocks, bonds and their derivative assets. The program focuses on portfolio management and financial analysis, and provides a generalist knowledge of other areas of finance. CFA charter holders must adhere to the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct.
What is a CDFA®?
A CDFA® is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst®. The program is administered by The Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts (IDFA (TM)). CDFA® candidates have demonstrated competency in how to help their clients with financial issues that will affect them during and after a divorce, including personal vs. marital property, valuing and dividing property, retirement assets and pensions, spousal and child support, separating property, tax problems and solutions, expert witness testimony, and tax law and financial issues affecting divorce. To acquire the designation, a candidate must successfully pass all exams with a minimum score of 70%, be in good standing with their Broker Dealer (if applicable) and the FINRA/SEC or other licensing or regulatory agency, and agree to adhere to the CDFA Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility standards. To retain the CDFA designation, candidates must also obtain 15 divorce-related hours of continuing education every two years, to remain in good standing with the IDFA.
What is a ChFC?
A ChFC is a Chartered Financial Consultant. The Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) is the “Advanced Financial Planning” designation conferred by The American College. The ChFC professional is qualified to assist individuals, professionals, and small-business owners with comprehensive financial planning, including insurance, income taxation, retirement planning, investments, and estate planning. The ChFC curriculum provides the most extensive education of the widely recognized financial planning designations.
What is a CFS®?
Certified Fund Specialist (CFS®) is a certification indicating an individual’s expertise in mutual funds and the mutual fund industry. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree or have completed 2,000 hours of financial services work experience. Training is provided by the Institute of Business & Finance (IBF) in the form of a 60-hour self-study program. Certification requires passing an exam, administered by the National Association of Securities Dealers, and an open-book case study. Certificate holders must complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years.