Broker Check

Professional Designations

<b>What do those letters mean?</b>

What do those letters mean?

There are many designations in the financial planning and investment advisory industry, but these are the most widely recognized and respected. All have minimum professional experience, education, continuing education, and ethical requirements. Unlike some other designations, these require stringent educational requirements and proctored exams.


 For 50 years, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification has been the standard of excellence for financial planners. CFP® professionals meet extensive training and experience requirements. They commit to the CFP Board’s ethical standards, requiring them to uphold their fiduciary duties and putting their clients’ interests first. The subject matter is extensive, covering nine principal knowledge domains with 70 topic areas in total. Average time to complete education requirement is 12-18 months. Six-hour exam. NCCA Accreditation.

Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA®)

CIMA® certification is the peak international, technical portfolio construction program for investment consultants, analysts, financial advisors, and wealth management professionals. It continues to be the highest level of advanced investment education for client-facing advisors. The education requirements can be completed at either Chicago Booth School of Business or Yale School of Management. Average time to complete education requirement is nine months. Five-hour exam. ANSI Accreditation.

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®)

A chartered financial analyst is a globally-recognized professional designation given by the CFA Institute that measures and certifies the competence and integrity of financial analysts. Candidates are required to pass three levels of exams covering areas, such as accounting, economics, ethics, money management, and security analysis. Three exams — Level I, II, III. 

Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC®)

The ChFC® Program offers comprehensive education in the essentials of financial planning, including insurance, taxation, retirement, and estate planning. The program requires students to complete nine college-level courses or 27 hours of college credit in the field. Students must achieve mastery of more than 100 integrated advanced financial planning topics. 

Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU®)

Since the first examinations were held in 1928, only a select group, fewer than five percent of those in the field, have qualified to earn this designation. Each potential CLU® must pass a comprehensive curriculum of ten college level courses, have extensive experience in the industry, and preserve the integrity of the designation by subscribing to a strict code of professional ethics. The program provides insights into the life insurance business, its importance to the economy, its operation and distribution systems, and its resurging importance for safe and secure investments.