The Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) Designation

The Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) designation is a rigorous credential focused on investment knowledge. The CFA charter is awarded to a select group of investment advisors who have:

  • Mastered a rigorous curriculum that requires hundreds of hours of study over at least three years and have passed three increasingly difficult levels of examination.
  • Demonstrated their mastery and expertise in applying this knowledge across a broad range of investment-related subjects (including ethics, probability and statistics, economics, financial reporting and analysis, corporate finance, equity valuation, fixed income valuation, derivatives, alternative investments and portfolio management).
  • Committed to being held to the highest ethical standards in all dealings with investor clients.

Charterholders must comply with the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct, which requires them always to place the client’s interests first, to maintain independence and objectivity, and to serve with integrity and honesty.

The idea for the CFA designation took shape with Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffett’s mentor and teacher. Graham desired to create a professional designation for security analysts similar to those witnessed in “fields of accounting, law, medicine and other professions.”

Today, Investors recognize the CFA designation as a measure of competence and integrity in the fields of portfolio management and investment analysis. The magazine The Economist referred to the CFA charter as the “gold standard,” writing that:

[The] qualification is roughly equivalent to a specialized postgraduate finance degree, including a mixture of economics, ethics, law, and accountancy… Whereas there are tens of thousands of finance degrees available around the world, ranging from the excellent to the worthless, there is only one CFA, managed and examined by an American association of financial professionals, the CFA Institute.


The Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) Designation

The CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® and federally registered CFP (with flame design) marks (collectively, the “CFP® marks”) are professional certification marks granted in the United States by Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (“CFP Board”).

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. Currently, more than 71,000 individuals have obtained CFP® certification in the United States.

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 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.


The Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF®) Designation

The AIF designation is a professional certification that demonstrates an advisor or other person serving as an investment fiduciary has met certain requirements to earn and maintian the credential. The purpose of the Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF®) designation is to ensure that those responsible for managing or advising on investor assets have a fundamental understanding of the principles of fiduciary duty, the standards of conduct for acting as a fiduciary, and a process for carrying out fiduciary responsibility. Fi360 is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for the AIF® Designation, making the designation part of an elite group of accredited designations recognized by FINRA. 

For additional information, please contact AMI Investment Management. Professional designations do not guarantee future performance.