Understand Designations

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Which Designations Should I Look for When Choosing My Advisor?

A professional designation is so much more than a series of letters that follow a financial advisor’s name–it’s a mark of distinction to signify their applied knowledge. Although designations are not legally required for financial services professionals, you can have confidence that by earning and maintaining a quality designation, your advisor demonstrates consistent expertise in the field, specialized knowledge, and an ongoing commitment to ethical practices.

Below, you can find a list of core designations offered by The College and valuable context for choosing the right advisor for your needs.

Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® (CAP®) - offers integrated philanthropic and legacy planning services to guide you in making a significant impact in the world through strategic philanthropy

Certified Financial Planner® (CFP®) – possesses comprehensive knowledge to help you navigate common financial situations and challenges, from creating a financial plan to making smart investment choices

Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) – understands financial fundamentals and can assist you in various financial matters, including insurance planning, estate planning, investments, and personal financial planning

Chartered Special Needs Consultant® (ChSNC®) – specializes in the financial issues surrounding the care of individuals with special needs andcan help you develop comprehensive financial plans and navigate government benefits 

Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) – excels in finding the best life insurance solutions tailored to your unique needs andcan guide you in evaluating and purchasing annuities, establishing estate plans, and addressing legal issues related to life insurance

Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®) – has expert knowledge in retirement income strategies to help you build a comprehensive retirement plan, make smart healthcare choices, and establish tax and legacy plans

Wealth Management Certified Professional® (WMCP®) – specializes in goal-based investment strategies to help you manage your wealth, tailor investments to your goals, and address risks strategically

Professional Designations Focused on Business Growth

Chartered Leadership Fellow® (CLF®) – professionals possess expertise in providing financial services managers with the knowledge they need to meet organizational goals. They help organizations develop business plans, set performance standards, and recruit and retain  employees.

Financial Services Certified Professional® (FSCP®) – has knowledge in financial products and in the ethical practices of finding and working with a diverse array of clients to help you achieve your goals

Master's Degrees & Graduate Programs

A financial professional who’s earned an MSFS is prepared to analyze, plan, and implement integrated financial and life strategies at the highest level and possess expertise in wealth accumulation, business succession planning, retirement planning, and tax burden minimization.

AEP® professionals are estate planners who meet stringent requirements for experience, knowledge, educational and professional reputation, and character.

Legacy Programs

Some financial professionals have earned designations and/or degrees that are no longer available. However, the best of these legacy programs still demonstrate expertise and a strong commitment to professional excellence. 


Finding a Financial Professional with the Expertise You Need

A financial professional with specialized knowledge in the financial issues most important to you can help you plot a course to a financially secure future. To help you connect with the best financial professional, we verify that all in our network have received education from The American College of Financial Services.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) offers a full list of recognized financial designations.