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Top 11 Client Advisor Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top professional certifications for client advisors, including details on their requirements and benefits.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 18 min read

Certifications are important for a client advisor in the job market because they demonstrate the individual’s level of expertise and knowledge within their field. Certifications can help to set an individual apart from other applicants and give employers assurance that the job seeker is qualified and capable of performing the duties related to the position. Furthermore, certifications can provide credibility to a candidate's experience and skillset, as well as demonstrate a commitment to professional development. Ultimately, having certifications can make it easier for an individual to secure a desired role in the competitive job market.

This article reviews some of the top certifications for Client Advisors and explains how they can contribute to a client advisor's career by providing them with valuable skills, knowledge, and professional recognition.

What are Client Advisor Certifications?

Client Advisor Certification is a professional designation for financial advisors and other professionals who provide advice to clients on investment, retirement, and tax planning. It is designed to ensure that advisors are knowledgeable about the latest financial strategies and products available, as well as the regulations that govern them. The certification is offered by a variety of organizations in the financial services industry, including the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFPB), and National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA).

Having Client Advisor Certification can help a financial advisor demonstrate their knowledge and commitment to providing high-quality advice to their clients. It also demonstrates their commitment to staying up-to-date with current trends in the industry. With this certification, advisors have access to exclusive educational opportunities, such as webinars, special events, and workshops. Additionally, they may be able to receive discounts on certain products or services offered by their employers. Lastly, having Client Advisor Certification can potentially increase an advisor's income potential due to increased demand for certified advisors among clients.

Pro Tip: Make sure to research the different types of client advisor certifications available and the specific requirements for each. This will ensure that you have the knowledge needed to become a certified client advisor, as well as the credentials necessary to provide clients with accurate advice.

Related: What does a Client Advisor do?

Top 11 Client Advisor Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Client Advisors today.

1. Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is a professional designation awarded by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. to individuals who complete a rigorous education, examination, experience and ethics requirements. CFPs are qualified to provide comprehensive financial planning advice and services to their clients.

It typically takes two to three years to become a CFP. To get the designation, an individual must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and must complete the CFP Board’s education requirements, including passing the CFP Certification Examination. In addition, applicants must have at least three years of full-time financial planning-related experience before they can be eligible for certification.

The cost of becoming a CFP varies depending on the individual's educational background and experience level. Generally speaking, it costs around $1,000-$2,000 in total fees for tuition and exam registration fees. This includes the cost of any required coursework as well as exam registration fees and other associated costs such as study materials or review courses.

2. Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)

Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) is a professional designation awarded by the American College of Financial Services. It is a credential for financial advisors and professionals who have completed an intensive program of study in insurance, investments, tax, retirement planning, and estate planning.

It typically takes two to three years to complete the ChFC program. To become a ChFC, you must first meet certain educational requirements. This includes having at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university, as well as completing courses in accounting, economics, finance, mathematics, and other related fields. After meeting these requirements, you must then pass the ChFC exam administered by the American College of Financial Services.

The cost of becoming a ChFC depends on the specific program you choose to pursue. Generally speaking, it will cost between $2,000 and $3,000 to complete all required coursework and exams necessary for certification. Additionally, there are often additional fees associated with taking the exam itself as well as any continuing education courses that may be required to maintain your certification status.

In addition to passing the exam and meeting educational requirements, applicants must also adhere to ethical standards set forth by the American College of Financial Services in order to become certified ChFCs. This includes adhering to fiduciary responsibility when providing advice or services to clients and maintaining their own personal integrity while working with clients.

3. Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA)

Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) is a professional designation awarded by the Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA). It is an advanced certification for professionals who provide investment management advice to clients. The CIMA designation signifies expertise in portfolio construction, asset allocation, and risk management.

To earn the CIMA designation, you must first complete IMCA’s comprehensive self-study program. The program consists of seven courses covering topics such as financial statement analysis, portfolio management strategies, and asset allocation techniques. You must then pass a two-part exam administered by IMCA. The exam assesses your knowledge of the material covered in the self-study program and your ability to apply that knowledge in real-world situations.

The entire process takes approximately six months to complete. You should plan to spend at least 20 hours per week studying for the exam and completing coursework.

The cost of obtaining the CIMA designation is $2,495 USD for members of IMCA and $3,495 USD for non-members. This fee includes access to all seven courses, study materials, and registration fees for both parts of the exam.

4. Certified Retirement Counselor (CRC)

Certified Retirement Counselor (CRC) is a professional designation offered by the International Foundation for Retirement Education (InFRE). It is designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated expertise in retirement planning and counseling. The program focuses on helping pre-retirees and retirees develop, implement, and manage their retirement plans.

To become a Certified Retirement Counselor, an individual must complete a minimum of 30 hours of coursework covering topics such as retirement income strategies, Social Security benefits, taxes, investments, estate planning, and insurance. In addition to completing the coursework, applicants must pass an exam administered by InFRE.

The cost to obtain the CRC designation depends on the type of coursework taken. Online courses typically cost between $300-$500 while live seminars range from $500-$900. Additionally, there is a one-time fee of $295 for the certification exam.

It typically takes around six months to complete all requirements for the CRC designation.

5. Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC)

Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC) is a professional designation offered by the College for Financial Planning. It is designed to provide retirement planning professionals with the knowledge and skills needed to help clients achieve their retirement goals. The CRPC designation requires completion of a comprehensive curriculum that covers topics such as Social Security, Medicare, taxes, investments, estate planning, insurance and long-term care.

To obtain the CRPC designation, individuals must complete an extensive program consisting of four courses: Retirement Income Planning Process; Investment Strategies for Retirement; Tax Planning for Retirement; and Estate Planning Strategies for Retirement. The program also includes an online exam that tests the individual’s knowledge of the material covered in the courses. The entire program takes approximately six months to complete and costs $1,595.

In order to maintain the CRPC designation, individuals must complete continuing education requirements every three years. This includes completing at least 45 hours of approved continuing education credits within a three year period and passing a recertification exam every six years.

6. Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF)

Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF) is a professional designation that recognizes individuals who have demonstrated knowledge and expertise in the area of fiduciary responsibility. AIFs are required to adhere to a strict code of ethics and standards of practice when providing investment advice or managing assets on behalf of their clients. The AIF designation is offered by the Center for Fiduciary Studies, an affiliate of the Foundation for Fiduciary Studies.

The AIF designation requires completion of a comprehensive self-study program, which includes passing an exam with a score of at least 70%. The program typically takes between 6-12 months to complete depending on how quickly you can study and pass the exam.

To get the AIF designation, you must first register for the program through the Center for Fiduciary Studies’ website. You will then receive access to the online course materials and be able to take practice exams. Once you have completed all course requirements and passed the exam, you will be awarded your AIF designation.

The cost of obtaining your AIF designation varies based on whether you are an individual or institution taking the program; however, it typically ranges from $1,000-$2,000 USD.

7. Chartered Wealth Manager (CWM)

Chartered Wealth Manager (CWM) is a professional designation for financial advisors who have achieved a high level of expertise in the field of wealth management. It is awarded by the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) and requires that individuals pass an exam and demonstrate a minimum of three years' experience in the industry.

The CWM exam consists of two parts: a multiple-choice section and an essay section. The multiple-choice section covers topics such as investment planning, asset allocation, portfolio management and risk management. The essay section requires candidates to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of wealth management principles and practices, as well as their ability to apply these concepts to real-world scenarios.

In order to obtain the CWM designation, individuals must first complete an approved training program or coursework in wealth management. This can be done through self-study or by attending classes at a college or university. After completing the required training program, candidates must then pass the CWM exam with a score of at least 70%.

Once the exam has been passed, candidates must then submit an application to CISI for review and approval. Upon approval, they will receive their official CWM designation certificate from CISI.

The cost for obtaining the CWM designation varies depending on how you choose to pursue it. If you choose to take classes at a college or university, you will need to pay tuition fees which can range from $2,000 - $6,000 USD depending on your location and institution. If you choose to self-study for the exam, there are several online resources available that offer study materials ranging from free to around $200 USD. Additionally, there is also an application fee of £150 GBP payable directly to CISI when submitting your application for review.

8. Certified Private Wealth Advisor (CPWA)

The Certified Private Wealth Advisor (CPWA) designation is a professional certification offered by the Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA). It is designed to provide financial advisors with specialized knowledge and skills in working with high net worth clients. The CPWA program focuses on topics such as estate planning, tax planning, risk management, investment management, and philanthropic planning.

To become a CPWA, an individual must have at least three years of experience working in the wealth management field and must pass a comprehensive exam. The exam consists of two parts: a written portion and an oral assessment. The written portion covers topics such as asset allocation, portfolio construction, retirement planning, estate planning, taxation, and philanthropy. The oral assessment assesses the candidate’s ability to apply knowledge to real-world situations.

The cost for the CPWA program varies depending on whether you are taking the exam for the first time or if you are retaking it. For first-time applicants, the cost is $1,500 plus applicable taxes. For retakers, the cost is $750 plus applicable taxes.

It typically takes between six months to one year to complete all of the requirements for obtaining the CPWA designation. This includes studying for and passing both parts of the exam as well as completing any additional coursework that may be required by IMCA or your employer.

9. Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU)

Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) is a professional designation awarded by The American College of Financial Services to individuals who demonstrate mastery of the life insurance and financial planning fields. It is designed to give professionals the knowledge and skills necessary to provide comprehensive financial planning services to their clients.

In order to receive the CLU designation, an individual must complete nine college-level courses that cover topics such as life insurance, estate planning, retirement planning, investments, taxation, and employee benefits. The courses are offered online or in-person at The American College’s campuses in Pennsylvania and Florida.

The cost for the program varies depending on your chosen course format (online or in-person). Online courses range from $1,295 - $2,495 per course while in-person courses range from $3,995 - $4,995 per course.

It typically takes around two years to complete all nine courses required for the CLU designation. After completing all nine courses and passing the final exam with a score of 70% or higher, you will be eligible for membership with The American College Alumni Association and receive your CLU designation certificate.

10. Certified Fund Specialist (CFS)

Certified Fund Specialist (CFS) is a professional designation that recognizes individuals who have demonstrated proficiency in the area of mutual fund investments. It is offered by the Institute of Business & Finance (IBF).

The CFS certification program consists of two courses: Fundamentals of Mutual Funds and Advanced Mutual Funds. The program covers topics such as portfolio management, asset allocation, taxation, regulation, and ethics. The courses are designed to help financial professionals gain a comprehensive understanding of mutual fund investments and strategies.

It typically takes about three months to complete both courses and obtain the CFS designation. To get the CFS designation, you must first pass an online exam for each course with a score of 70% or higher. Once you have passed both exams, you will receive your CFS certificate from IBF.

The cost for the Certified Fund Specialist program varies depending on whether you take the courses online or in-person. Online courses typically cost between $600-$800 USD while in-person courses can range from $1,500-$2,000 USD.

11. Registered Financial Consultant (RFC).

A Registered Financial Consultant (RFC) is a professional designation awarded by the International Association of Registered Financial Consultants (IARFC). The RFC credential is designed to recognize financial professionals who have demonstrated expertise in the field of financial planning and investments.

It typically takes approximately 6-12 months to complete the requirements for an RFC designation. The first step is to become a member of the IARFC, which requires a one-time membership fee of $100. Once you are a member, you must complete three courses: Foundations of Financial Planning, Investment Strategies, and Insurance & Risk Management. Each course costs $200 and can be completed online or through self-study materials provided by the IARFC. After completing all three courses, you must pass an exam with a score of 70% or higher in order to receive your RFC designation.

The total cost for becoming an RFC is approximately $500-$600 depending on whether you choose to take the courses online or through self-study materials.

Do You Really Need a Client Advisor Certificate?

Whether you need a Client Advisor Certificate or not will depend on your particular career goals. A Client Advisor Certificate can help you stand out from the competition and demonstrate to potential employers that you have specialized knowledge in the field of client advising. It can also provide a foundation of knowledge to build upon as you advance your career.

If you are looking to enter the field of client advising, this certificate could be beneficial in helping you land a job and giving yourself an edge over other applicants. Employers may look favorably upon applicants who have a Client Advisor Certificate, as it shows that they have taken the time to gain specialized training and knowledge in this area. In addition, having a professional certification can make it easier for employers to verify your qualifications, which is important when considering prospective employees for their company.

On the other hand, if you already have experience working as a client advisor, then obtaining the Client Advisor Certificate may not be necessary. If you are currently employed in the field, it may be more beneficial to focus on gaining additional skills and qualifications that show potential employers what value you bring to their organization. This could include taking courses related to customer service or sales techniques, or even pursuing additional certifications in areas such as financial planning or investment management.

Ultimately, whether or not a Client Advisor Certificate is right for you depends on your personal career goals and objectives. Consider what kind of experience and qualifications would best demonstrate your expertise in this field and decide if obtaining this certificate is worth investing the time and money into doing so.

Related: Client Advisor Resume Examples

FAQs About Client Advisor Certifications

Q1: What is a Client Advisor Certification?

A1: A Client Advisor Certification is a program designed to provide advisors with the knowledge and skills needed to serve clients in a professional and ethical manner. It typically includes courses on topics such as financial planning, investment strategies, client relations, risk management, and more.

Q2: Who needs to be certified?

A2: Generally speaking, anyone who provides financial advice or services to clients should consider obtaining a Client Advisor Certification. This includes financial advisors, wealth managers, stockbrokers, insurance agents, and other professionals providing financial advice.

Q3: What are the benefits of getting certified?

A3: Becoming certified can help you demonstrate your expertise and knowledge in the area of client advising. Additionally, it may help you stand out from other professionals in your field by showing potential employers that you have taken the initiative to become knowledgeable about the profession.

Q4: How do I get certified?

A4: The requirements for certification vary depending on the organization offering the certification. Generally speaking though, most programs require applicants to pass an exam after completing coursework related to client advising. The exam usually covers topics such as ethics, investments strategies, taxation laws and regulations, client relations management and more.

Q5: How long does it take to get certified?

A5: Depending on the program you choose and your level of commitment to studying for the exam, it can take anywhere from several months up to one year or longer to become certified.