Professional Designations

Professional Designations

Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®)
The Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) charter is a globally respected, graduate-level investment credential established in 1962 and awarded by CFA Institute — the largest global association of investment professionals.

To earn the CFA® charter, candidates must: 1) pass three sequential, six-hour examinations; 2) have at least four years of qualified professional investment experience; 3) join CFA Institute as members; and 4) commit to abide by, and annually reaffirm, their adherence to the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct.

High Ethical Standards
The CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct, enforced through an active professional conduct program, require CFA® charterholders to:

  • Place their clients’ interests ahead of their own
  • Maintain independence and objectivity
  • Act with integrity
  • Maintain and improve their professional competence
  • Disclose conflicts of interest and legal matters

Global Recognition
Passing the three CFA® exams is a difficult feat that requires extensive study (successful candidates report spending an average of 300 hours of study per level). Earning the CFA® charter demonstrates mastery of many of the advanced skills needed for investment analysis and decision making in today’s quickly evolving global financial industry. As a result, employers and clients are increasingly seeking CFA® charterholders—often making the charter a prerequisite for employment.

Additionally, regulatory bodies in 19 countries recognize the CFA® charter as a proxy for meeting certain licensing requirements, and more than 125 colleges and universities around the world have incorporated a majority of the CFA Program curriculum into their own finance courses.

Comprehensive and Current Knowledge
The CFA® Program curriculum provides a comprehensive framework of knowledge for investment decision making and is firmly grounded in the knowledge and skills used every day in the investment profession. The three levels of the CFA® Program test a proficiency with a wide range of fundamental and advanced investment topics, including ethical and professional standards, fixed-income and equity analysis, alternative and derivative investments, economics, financial reporting standards, portfolio management, and wealth planning.

The CFA® Program curriculum is updated every year by experts from around the world to ensure that candidates learn the most relevant and practical new tools, ideas, and investment and wealth management skills to reflect the dynamic and complex nature of the profession. To learn more about the CFA® charter, visit

Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®)
The CFP® certification is a voluntary certification; no federal or state law or regulation requires financial planners to hold CFP® certification. It is recognized in the United States and a number of other countries for its (1) high standard of professional education; (2) stringent code of conduct and standards of practice; and (3) ethical requirements that govern professional engagements with clients.

To attain the right to use the CFP® marks, an individual must satisfactorily fulfill the following requirements:

  • Education – Complete an advanced college-level course of study addressing the financial
    planning subject areas that CFP Board’s studies have determined as necessary for the competent and professional delivery of financial planning services, and attain a Bachelor’s Degree from a regionally accredited United States college or university (or its equivalent from a foreign
    university). CFP Board’s financial planning subject areas include insurance planning and risk management, employee benefits planning, investment planning, income tax planning, retirement planning, and estate planning;
  • Examination – Pass the comprehensive CFP® Certification Examination. The examination, administered in 10 hours over a two-day period, includes case studies and client scenarios designed to test one’s ability to correctly diagnose financial planning issues and apply one’s knowledge of financial planning to real world circumstances;
  • Experience – Complete at least three years of full-time financial planning-related experience (or the equivalent, measured as 2,000 hours per year); and
  • Ethics – Agree to be bound by CFP Board’s Standards of Professional Conduct, a set of documents outlining the ethical and practice standards for CFP® professionals.

Individuals who become certified must complete the following ongoing education and ethics requirements in order to maintain the right to continue to use the CFP® marks:

  • Continuing Education – Complete 30 hours of continuing education hours every two years, including two hours on the Code of Ethics and other parts of the Standards of Professional Conduct, to maintain competence and keep up with developments in the financial planning field; and
  • Ethics – Renew an agreement to be bound by the Standards of Professional Conduct. The Standards prominently require that CFP® professionals provide financial planning services at a fiduciary standard of care. This means CFP® professionals must provide financial planning services in the best interests of their clients.
    CFP® professionals who fail to comply with the above standards and requirements may be subject to CFP Board’s enforcement process, which could result in suspension or permanent revocation of their CFP® certification.

Certified Private Wealth AdvisorSM (CPWA®)
The CPWA designation signifies that an individual has met initial and on-going experience, ethical, education, and examination requirements for the professional designation, which is centered on management topics and strategies for high-net-worth clients.

Prerequisites/Experience required: Prerequisites for the CPWA designation are: a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university or one of the following designations or licenses: CIMA®, CIMC®, CFA®, CFP®, ChFC® or CPA license; acceptable regulatory history as evidenced by FINRA

Form U-4 or other regulatory requirements; five years of professional client-centered experience in financial services or a related industry; and two letters of reference from an IMCA member, professional supervisor, or currently licensed professional in financial services or a related industry. CPWA designees must complete a six-month pre-class educational component and a five-day classroom education program through The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. CPWA designees are required to adhere to IMCA’s Code of Professional Responsibility and Rules and Guidelines for Use of the Marks.

Continuing Education/Experience Requirements: CPWA designees must report 40 hours of continuing education credits, including two ethics hours, every two years to maintain the certification. The designation is administered through Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA®).


Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA®)
Certified Investment Management AnalystSM (CIMA®) The CIMA certification signifies that an individual has met initial and on-going experience, ethical, education, and examination requirements for investment management consulting, including advanced investment management theory and application. Prerequisites for the CIMA certification are three years of financial services experience and an acceptable regulatory history. To obtain the CIMA certification, candidates must pass an online Qualification Examination, successfully complete a one-week classroom education program provided by a Registered Education Provider at an AACSB accredited university business school, and pass an online Certification Examination. CIMA designees are required to adhere to IMCA’s Code of Professional Responsibility, Standards of Practice, and Rules and Guidelines for Use of the Marks. CIMA designees must report 40 hours of continuing education credits, including two ethics hours, every two years to maintain the certification. The designation is administered through Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA®).

Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA)
The CAIA designation, recognized globally, is administered by the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst Association and requires a comprehensive understanding of core and advanced concepts regarding alternative investments, structures, and ethical obligations. To qualify for the CAIA designation, finance professionals must complete a self-directed, comprehensive course of study on risk- return attributes of institutional quality alternative assets; pass both the Level I and Level II CAIA examinations at proctored testing centers; attest annually to the terms of the Member Agreement; and hold a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) plus have at least one year of professional experience or have four years of professional experience. Professional experience includes full-time employment in a professional capacity within the regulatory, banking, financial, or related fields. Once a qualified candidate completes the CAIA program, he or she may apply for CAIA membership and the right to use the CAIA designation, providing an opportunity to access ongoing educational opportunities.

Accredited Asset Management Specialistsm (AAMS®)
The growing emphasis on building lasting client relationships and gathering assets under management is changing the way the investment community conducts business. Many of the country’s top investment firms were involved in developing the program, making it uniquely suited to the needs of today’s investment professionals. The materials include real-life examples, figures, and tables translating investment concepts into everyday work experience—making what you learn immediately applicable to your business. The College for Financial Planning® awards the Accredited Asset Management Specialistsm and AAMS® designation to students who:

  • Successfully complete the program;
  • Pass the final examination; and
  • Comply with the Code of Ethics, which includes agreeing to abide by the Standards of Professional Conduct and Terms and Conditions.

Applicants must also disclose of any criminal, civil, self-regulatory organization, or governmental agency inquiry, investigation, or proceeding relating to their professional or business conduct. Conferment of the designation is contingent upon the College for Financial Planning’s review of matters either self-disclosed or which are discovered by the College that are required to be disclosed.

Students must sign and return the Code of Ethics forms within six months of passing the final exam. Failure to complete and submit the forms within this time frame may result in termination of the individual’s candidacy. If an individual wishes to apply for authorization to use the Marks in the future, he or she may be required to fulfill the initial designation requirements in place at the time of passing the exam.

Successful students receive a certificate and are granted the right to use the designation on correspondence and business cards for a two-year period.
Continued use of the AAMS® designation is subject to ongoing renewal requirements. Every two years individuals must renew their right to continue using the AAMS® designation by:

  • Completing 16 hours of continuing education;
  • Reaffirming to abide by the Standards of Professional Conduct, Terms and Conditions, and self disclose any criminal, civil, self-regulatory organization, or governmental agency inquiry, investigation, or proceeding relating to their professional or business conduct; and
  • Paying a biennial renewal fee.

Detailed renewal requirements for the College for Financial Planning’s professional designation programs can be found on

ChFC® (Chartered Financial Consultant®)
The ChFC® designation has been a mark of excellence for almost thirty years and currently requires nine college-level courses. Average study time to earn the ChFC® exceeds 450 hours. Required courses cover extensive education and application training in financial planning, income taxation, investments, and estate and retirement planning. Additional electives are chosen from such topics as macroeconomics, financial decisions for retirement, and executive compensation. ChFC® designees must meet experience requirements and adhere to continuing education and ethical standards. The credential is awarded by The American College, a non-profit educator with an 84-year heritage and a high level of academic accreditation.