Monday, June 17, 2013

Retirement Designations and Retirement Bootcamp

I have a new column available from Advisor Perspectives about three of the leading retirement income designations available. This column is geared more toward financial advisors who are thinking to study for a retirement designation and wondering which one to choose, but it could also be useful for consumers to know more about 3 of the more rigorous designations: CRC, RICP, and RMA.

While on the subject of certifications and designations, let me mention the RMA's retirement bootcamp at Salem State University on July 15-19 in Salem, Massachusetts. I attended a few days of last year's event, and it was a really great experience. My plans for this year are to arrive for dinner on Tuesday and leave at the end of the day on Thursday. I'll be speaking on Wednesday afternoon. Last year, this was a truly unique opportunity for enrollees. Six students (one of whom was not a financial planner, but rather just a new retiree who signed up after reading about the course in a Salem State University course catalog), were able to hear lectures and have discussions with (followed by dinners at a very scenic local country club) some of the leading names in the retirement income world, such as Zvi BodieLaurence KotlikoffDana Anspach, and others. Can you imagine? Opportunities like that are hard to come by. Those names are planning to attend again this year, and I'm also excited to meet Michael Zwecher and Manish Malhotra in person for the first time. Again, though in principal the purpose of this event is to prepare students for the RMA examination, enrollment is open to any interested parties. You can see the planned course schedule here and learn more about how to sign up here.

Back to the Advisor Perspectives column, I had wanted to include a fourth designation: The College for Financial Planning's CRPC designation. But it was too late to include it by the time I heard back from them with answers to my questions. So here is some bonus content for the blog. The CRPC is actually older and larger than any of the others I reviewed. It began in 1996 and there are now about 16,000 active designees with another 1,500 actively enrolled and working through the course materials. Students take one 3 credit hour graduate course with 12 modules. Expected study time is 120 hours and students should be able to complete the course in 3-4 months. Examinations are conducted at testing centers around the country. The course cost is $1140 with discounts available for employees of specific firms which have endorsed the designation. Recertification is required every two years with 16 CE credits, and reaffirming compliance with a code of conduct. The biannual recertification is $95. About what distinguishes this designation, I learned that, "The College for Financial Planning began surveying CRPC® graduates for the Survey of Trends in the Financial Planning Industry in 2006. CRPC® designees have shown increases to not only their earnings and number of clients, but also their job satisfaction in every survey to date."


  1. Wade-

    As someone with some letters behind his name that actually mean something (a PhD generally requires 4-8 years of work and the CFA is generally the most time consuming and rigorous of all financial designations)I'm disappointed to see you advocating ANY of these designations. They do not serve to benefit clients, only to confuse them. While I applaud advisors who are willing to learn and better themselves, all these designations are silly. Consider an advisor/insurance agent who frequents my blog. He carries 5 designations: CFP®, CLU®, ChFC®, RHU®, LUTCF. 18 letters. That borders on ridiculous. I'm a doc, and if I put 2 or 3 or 4 letters after my name for every 120 hour course I took in school or residency I'd have to write a paragraph every time I sign my name. Financial advisors should be encouraged to obtain designations that actually mean something, and when a higher designation in the same field is obtained, the lower ones should be dropped. We need fewer designations, not more.

    1. Thanks for sharing your input. It's an interesting problem. Financial Services is still an emerging profession and one which does tend to favor lots of designations, unlike medicine. Michael Kitces recently had a blog post where he argued that one solution could be to require all planners to become CFP designees as a way to signal quality and then other designations would be extra. I suppose a distinction is that the CFP is easier to obtain than a medical degree and there can still be missing holes in knowledge. Perhaps there can be a better model to fill those holes, but I don't come down as harshly on the idea that no further designations are needed. I certainly agree that the current landscape is not ideal and many changes are needed.

    2. Personally, I'd make sure that I stayed out of your waiting room, "Doc" since it sounds like you spend more time worried about your blog than concerned about your own knowledge, much less your patients.

      Oh and the RICP designation touches very in-depth on something you might want to pay a little more attention to if you're looking to continue to get paid by insurance companies.

      Unless, of course, you've retired the white coat for a blog that beats up on investment professionals...