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As the ranks of CFP certificants are on the rise, the CFP certification is increasingly transitioning from a "nice to have" designation to the minimum standard for financial planners. Yet as the popularity and adoption of CFP certification grows, simply having one is no longer the differentiator that it once was. Instead, advisors are increasingly faced with pressure to move beyond "just" the CFP marks, and explore "post-CFP" education to truly demonstrate expertise and differentiate.

Fortunately, the reality is that there is a growing range of post-CFP educational programs available. Ironically, though, trying to navigate the 'alphabet soup' of available programs can be as difficult for advisors choosing a credible program as it is for consumers choosing a credible advisor! Nonetheless, from designations designed to deepen subject matter expertise, to those built outright to support a standalone niche unto itself, there are a large number of choices available to those who have completed CFP certification and are now asking"what's next?"

In today's blog post, we look through the list of the more credible programs that are available, from advanced designations in financial planning, wealth management, investments, and retirement, to niche educational programs for working with doctors, divorcees, or the LGBT community, and more. Have you considered what your next step will be in your post-CFP studies?

Choosing What's Next After CFP?

As someone who has the proverbial "alphabet soup" of designations myself, I am often asked by advisors what they should do next after completing their CFP certification. Yet the reality is that once the CFP certification is obtained as an initial "minimum competency standard", the next step from there really depends increasingly on the advisor's own career and professional goals.

In carving up the landscape of available post-CFP certification programs, there are two general tracks of designations and educational programs that emerge: 1) subject matter expertise; 2) serving a niche clientele. In the former category include designations for everything from retirement planning to advanced financial planning and wealth management to various insurance subspecialties. In the latter include programs to work with doctors, divorcees, or the LGBT community. 

So the question of "what's next" really depends on what you want to pursue? Are you trying to deepen your subject matter expertise in a particular area? Is there a weak spot you want to strengthen, or alternatively a strength you want to develop further? Are you trying to steer your practice towards a particular niche to better differentiate yourself from the mass of other CFP certificants?

Whatever your path, hopefully this list below will help you navigate the wide array of professional designations out there, some of which are far more professional and credible than others (hopefully, as the CFP certification increasingly becomes a minimum standard and only quality "post-CFP" programs continue to have value, the landscape of specious designations will thin out a bit!). While I cannot say that I have taken every single one of these programs personally, these are all programs with which I have at least some familiarity, either through the curriculum, the teachers or sponsoring organization, or the community/association that supports those who have the certification.

And of course, if there's something that you don't see on the list that you think should be here, please leave your feedback in the comments section at the end!

Post-CFP Subject Matter Expertise

General Financial Planning - Advanced Designations Or A Master's Degree

ChFC (Chartered Financial Consultant) - Offered by The American College, the ChFC curriculum technically includes all of the core educational content of the CFP certification itself, plus requiring three additional courses. While historically the ChFC has been framed as a "competitor" to the CFP marks (with more educational content required, but without a comprehensive exam), it is better viewed as a good "post-CFP" educational program in financial planning to take after completing the CFP program itself. The ChFC includes a wide range of electives that advisors can select to round out the additional three required post-CFP classes (notably, these classes can also partially "double-dip" into other American College designations as well for those interested in pursuing several).

Master's in Financial Planning (MSFP or MSFS) - Although ultimately there are many degree-granting institutions that offer a Master's in Financial Planning, for those who have already left the undergraduate/graduate school environment and are now practitioners, the most popular options seem to be the MSFS from the American College, or the MSFP program from the College for Financial Planning (unless there happens to be a geographically-convenient local institution offering a program). Another appealing option is Golden Gate University's "Masters in Taxation and Financial Planning" program, specifically for those who have already completed their CFP marks, who want to go deeper into both financial planning and income or estate taxation. What's the difference between getting a graduate degree in financial planning, and "just" the CFP certification? Simply put, the Master's degree programs go deeper into the subject matter (even for those who already have their CFP marks, as in the end CFP classes are the equivalent of "just" undergraduate-level coursework).

Wealth Management Certification

CPWA (Certified Private Wealth Advisor) - The CPWA from the Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA) is arguably "the" certification for private wealth management. While the terms "financial planning" and "wealth management" are often used somewhat interchangeably amongst practitioners, IMCA has worked hard to clearly define what truly is the domain of wealth management and how it differs, utilizing the same "job task analysis" approach that is actually used to build the CFP topic list as well. In IMCA's view, the primary distinction between financial planning and wealth management is primarily about the net worth of the target clientele, and the kinds of issues that are relevant to such clients. Thus, the CPWA goes far deeper than the CFP into areas like private equity and hedge fund investment, ultra high net worth estate planning strategies, planning for executives and closely-held businesses (potentially worth tens or hundreds of millions), etc. The CPWA is a strong option for those specifically serving the high net worth marketplace and wishing to take their knowledge to the next level.

Investment-related Designations and Certifications

CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) - While the CFA charter is arguably the "gold standard" of certification in the world of investments, the practical challenge of the CFA for financial advisors is that its curriculum delves far deeper into financial analysis than what advisors typically address in crafting portfolios for clients. For those who actually wish to learn more about how to roll up their sleeves and really analyze company financials to evaluate stocks and bonds, there's nothing better than the CFA (its roots are in the world of certifying investment research analysts and [future] mutual fund managers). However, for those financial advisors who are more focused on staying at the "portfolio" level rather than doing any individual securities analysis, the CFA may be "overkill" and of limited practical use (though you may wish to have someone on your investment team obtain one). (For those who do wish to pursue the CFA, it's worth noting the College for Financial Planning has a nice graduate degree program in Financial Analysis that is designed to line up with the CFA exam's 3-year testing cycle.)

CIMA (Certified Investment Management Analyst) - The CIMA certification from IMCA has its roots in the business of "manager search and selection" - i.e., brokers and investment management consultants helping to select investment managers to use (from hedge funds and separately managed accounts to mutual funds). However, the IMCA body of knowledge itself continues to evolve as financial advising has evolved, and in fact is in the midst of rolling out its latest version of the curriculum and exam in 2014. For advisors who are more focused on portfolio design, asset allocation, and selecting investment vehicles or investment managers to fill out those asset classes, the CIMA may be your best option in the investments category. Notably, the CIMA is also very helpful for those in the business of "selling" managed investment solutions (e.g., as a wholesaler).

Insurance Designations

CLU (Chartered Life Underwriter) - Offered by the American College (in fact, as its first designation almost 80 years ago!), the CLU is the gold standard in education for life insurance professionals. Its popularity appears to have waned as interest in being a life insurance agent itself has declined over time (and insurance agents have increasingly become "financial advisors" instead). Nonetheless, for those looking to really get a deeper base of knowledge in life insurance and its proper applications from a credible educational program (though its parent organization sometimes leaves much to be desired in how it represents CLU certificants!), there really is nothing better than the CLU.

CPCU (Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter) - For those interested in getting a deeper understanding of property and casualty insurance (e.g., homeowners, automobile, commercial, etc.), the CPCU is to P&C insurance what the CLU is to life insurance. Though less common amongst 'traditional' financial advisors who tend to be focused more on life, disability, and long-term care insurance than P&C coverage, the education is a deep dive for those who want to become more knowledgeable in these areas, and/or those who are considering whether to add P&C insurance to the range of solutions offered to clients.

CLTC (Certified in Long-Term Care Insurance) - The CLTC program is intended specifically for those who want to get up to speed on the technical rules and issues of long-term care insurance. The program is fairly "light weight" in comparison to some of the other educational programs listed here (it's generally taught in a 2-day Master Class), the CLTC is nonetheless recognized as the most credible designation for those working specifically in the LTC insurance space.

Retirement Designations

RICP (Retirement Income Certified Professional) - The RICP from the American College has quickly emerged as the most popular retirement income planning designation, exploding onto the scene with its launch in 2013 and by late in the year already approaching 3,000 registered to take the program, with several hundred already having earned the designation. The RICP curriculum is comprised of three core courses, specifically focused on constructing retirement income strategies and looking at a wide range of approaches from portfolio-based strategies to those using annuities and other guaranteed products.

RMA (Retirement Management Analyst) - The RMA was created by the Retirement Income Industry Association (RIIA), which focuses on its "view across the silos" look at retirement income with strategies across the various channels of financial services. The RMA takes a somewhat more "academic" approach to evaluating retirement income strategies, including a heavy component of research from the economist "lifecycle finance" perspective of flooring strategies. While some have celebrated the academic leanings of the RMA, its curriculum has been slower to catch on, and it still is just barely approaching 100 certificants after several years.

CASL (Chartered Advisor of Senior Living) - The CASL designation from the American College was one of the first 'credible' designations for advising seniors, and still continues to cover the landscape effectively. Those who have already earned their CFP certification will have completed some of the material, but the CASL requires additional content on understanding and working with seniors, health and long-term care financing, some of the decisions for seniors transitioning into retirement. While the preceding programs (RICP and RMA) are focused rather specifically on retirement income for seniors, the CASL focuses on most of "the rest" of the issues for retirees.

RFG (Registered Financial Gerontologist) - The RFG designation is offered by the American Institution of Financial Gerontology, and its core curriculum overlaps the CASL heavily. As the AIFG founder puts it, the mission of the organization is not to teach finance, but to teach gerontology (the study of aging) to financial professionals. The RFG is offered in partnership with the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and though it is a credible educational curriculum, the base of RFGs is significantly smaller than the number of CASLs.

Estate Planning Designations

AEP (Accredited Estate Planner) - The AEP designation is technically made available by the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils (NAEPC), though the curriculum itself is offered by the American College. The designation requires two graduate-level courses in estate planning (though those serious about advanced estate planning education may wish to do more), and the AEP itself is only available to those who have already completed certain other designations or licenses as well (including JDs, CPAs, CFPs, and ChFCs).

CAP (Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy) - The CAP program, again from the American College, offers an advanced 3-course graduate-school-level program specifically around charitable planning (with a strong estate planning tilt to it). The courses all go well beyond the CFP certification, and may be especially appealing to those who work in ultra high-net-worth private wealth management settings where these types of advanced charitable estate planning strategies are often part of the equation.

Taxation - Designations, Degrees, and Licenses

CPA (Certified Public Accountant) - Technically, the CPA is not a designation but a state license to practice accounting. The educational requirements for CPAs include a 150-credit-hour requirement including the completion of a graduate degree in accounting, and usually several years of experience in accounting (and/or auditing; requirements vary by state). While the CPA license is arguably at the pinnacle of tax credentials, from a practical perspective the educational and experience requirements - which often include heavy components of accounting and auditing work and study outside of taxation - make it an impractical pursuit for experienced advisors who didn't already start out pursuing the CPA educational and career route.

MTAX or MST (Master's in Taxation) - For those who wish to get the depth of tax knowledge but without the accounting and auditing requirements, a Master's in Taxation may be an appealing alternative to obtaining a CPA. Graduate school programs in taxation are available from a wide range of universities, on both a local basis (if there's a geographically convenient option in your area) or via a distance-based/online program. Notably, a Master's in Taxation may include several courses in areas less commonly practiced by advisors (e.g., taxation of corporate mergers, or state and local taxation). Though one appealing option may be the aforementioned Master's in Financial Planning and Taxation program from Golden Gate University, which blends together graduate-level income and estate tax planning courses relevant to advisors, with other Master's-level material on financial planning.

EA (Enrolled Agent) - An enrolled agent is someone licensed by the Federal government (via the IRS itself) to prepare individual and business tax returns, and represent taxpayers before the IRS (similar to CPAs and attorneys, though only in tax matters and not other legal/accounting issues). The content of the EA includes a heavy focus on how to properly comply with the US tax laws, including the proper reporting and filing of IRS forms, and is less focused on the long-term tax planning that advisors often do. Nonetheless, it's helpful for deeper knowledge on tax issues, especially if the advisors actually plan to offer tax preparation services.

CTS (Certified Tax Specialist) - Offered by the Institute of Business and Finance, this tax designation has a heavy overlap to the CFP tax curriculum, but does go deeper and extend beyond in certain areas. Given the rather significant depth of the other tax education programs discussed above, the CTS may be an appealing "mid-point" beyond the CFP but less intensive than getting an EA or a Master's degree.

Niche Educational Programs and Designations

While the aforementioned educational programs are focused primarily on particular subject matter expertise areas, the designation programs below are generally targeted more directly at serving a particular niche type of clientele, and the education that's needed to understand and serve them more effectively. While the earlier designation programs might be taken simply to expand and deepen knowledge for a wider range of uses, the designations below are generally only pursued if there's a specific goal or intention to offer

CDFA (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst) - Offered by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts, the CDFA is designed for financial advisors who specifically want to specialize in working with divorcees and the issues that arise in the process of divorce. Education focuses on areas specifically relevant to the divorce process and how advisors can fit into it, from supporting on divorce litigation, to serving as a financial expert in a contentious divorce (either behind the scenes or as an expert witness), or helping to collect data and prepare a budget to determine support needs. As with many such 'niche' designations, the CDFA is backed by a membership organization that aims to help advisors become more successful in this unique practice area.

ADPA (Accredited Domestic Partnership Advisor) - The ADPA designation offered by the College for Financial Planning is designed to help advisors address the unique needs and issues of couples who are not considered to be married under state or Federal law (or both), including both the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, as well as unmarried heterosexual couples. Those interested in working further in this area may also wish to join PridePlanners, the separate membership organization for those serving the LGBT community.

CFT (Certified Financial Transitionist) - The CFT designation is offered by Susan Bradley's "Sudden Money Institute" and is designed for advisors who wish to specialize in those going through significant sudden life (and financial) changes and transitions, from big inheritances to lottery windfalls to a pro-sports contract or the sale of a business. While these scenarios characterize a wide array of different clientele, the notable continuity is the set of issues that arise when people face a sudden influx of financial wealth all at once, and the personal/emotional as well as financial decisions they face, for which the CFT designation is designed to help.

CMP (Certified Medical Planner) - The CMP designation was created by Dr. David Marcinko (who also wrote the "Financial Planning Handbook for Physicians and Advisors"), and is intended for advisors who aim specifically to serve physicians and the medical community. Content focuses not only on the insurance and investment issues relevant to physicians, but also provides an understanding of the business of medical practices themselves so advisors can help work with their physician clients to have more successful businesses as well.

CExP (Certified Exit Planner) - Offered by Business Enterprise Institute (BEI), the CExP designation is intended for those who aim to work with business owners selling/exiting their businesses, who need help and guidance in how to execute an effective exit plan. Curriculum covers not just some of the business issues of exit planning, from ownership transfers to third parties versus insiders, business continuity and deferred compensation, but also how to navigate some of the family and personal issues.

ChSNC (Chartered Special Needs Consultant) - Another specialized program from the American College, the ChSNC curriculum is a series of three courses designed specifically to educate advisors who want to serve clients who have special needs children/family members, and navigate the unique personal/lifestyle issues, as well as the tax, healthcare, and Medicaid complexities that arise. Notably, the program actually requires a CFP certification (or one of a few other advanced designations) first. (For those interested in serving the special needs community, you may also wish to explore joining the Protected Tomorrows community and becoming an Advocate.)


So what do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below! Have you been through any of the post-CFP programs listed here? Are there any other designation/certification programs you have completed that you think should be on this list?

  • Adam Frinsco

    Good list Michael. I’ve contemplated dedicating time to a few of those without pulling the trigger. One designation I recently passed that I didn’t see on your list, but find as a great value add to tactical portfolio management, is the CMT exam (Chartered Market Technician). It’s three levels and covers most everything you want to know regarding technical analysis and analyzing market trends. Be interested to hear if you’ve come across other advisors who utilize this designation.

    • Michael Kitces

      I’ve got nothing negative to say about the CMT program. We actually put someone in our office through the curriculum as well. The only distinction is that I’d view the CMT as being closer to something a ‘pure’ investment advisor would focus on, rather than a financial planner? In other words, is it “too deep” into the investment realm to be a good fit for a financial advisor (as opposed to someone specifically focused on hands-on portfolio management)?
      – Michael

      • Dave Stanfield

        Has anyone run across a Small Business designation for Financial Advisors?

  • David Oransky

    Registered Life Planner (RLP) should definitely be on your list. CFP teaches you the how. RLP teaches you the why.

    • Michael Kitces

      Thanks for the suggestion David. This was really just an error/omission on my part. It slipped my mind that this was available! I will definitely add when I update the list!
      – Michael

  • Jordan Kunz

    A few extra thoughts about the CFA Program. Level I and particularly Level II are focused on security-level analysis, but Level III shifts to portfolio-level decisions. From CFAI: “Level III focuses on synthesizing all of the concepts and analytical methods in a variety of applications for effective portfolio management and wealth planning.” More info on the specifics here: The trick is wading through Levels I and II first…

    An interesting consideration that doesn’t get much coverage is the global nature of the CFA curriculum. In contrast, almost all of the above designations are focused exclusively on the local taxation and legal systems (for perfectly logical reasons). A contrast nonetheless.

    My experience has been that the CFA/CFP® combination is more than the sum of its parts, but if I had to choose one, it would be the former. My two pennies.

  • Tom Gartner

    Great post as usual Michael. I’ve got 4 opened in other windows to take a look at, thank you. You can add Creighton’s online Master’s in Security Analysis and Portfolio Management MSAPM to the CFA based masters programs. I just completed it and thought it was very rigorous, made me a sharper steward, and further honed my skills for our client’s best interests.

    • Michael Kitces

      Thanks for sharing, good to know. Do they align the curriculum to the CFA as well – so you can sit for the CFA exams as you go through the Master’s material?
      – Michael

      • Tom Gartner

        Hi Michael,

        Yes they do, although a prep course for each level in concert with the coursework would be wise.


  • Molly

    You can also explore a Masters in Financial Planning and Taxation offered at Golden Gate University (and maybe other schools) where being a CFP professional is a requirement to the program.

    • Michael Kitces

      Thanks for the suggestion Molly!

  • Phil

    Though it’s only available to CPAs, another designation that can be added to the list is Personal Financial Specialist (PFS). The Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) program allows CPAs to demonstrate their knowledge and expertise in personal financial planning. Whether a CPA specializes in personal financial planning with their clients or interacts with other financial planning professionals, the CPA/PFS credential adds credibility. CPA/PFS credential holders have a specific experience, education and examination requirement that sets them apart from other CPAs and financial planners.

    • Michael Kitces


      I have to admit that for someone who already has a CFP (which is the focus here) I’m not sure what a PFS adds in terms of education. Quite literally, if you’ve done the CFP education you’ve already covered the PFS curriculum, and if you passed the CFP exam you don’t even need to take the PFS exam (see

      So in terms of adding post-CFP education to niche or specialize, I just don’t see the PFS as an addition. You’d simply be adding more letters after the name with no actual additional education, which wasn’t the point here.

      There’s an interesting separate discussion whether, for CPAs, they should pursue the CFP or the PFS as their INITIAL educational program (that will probably be a blog post unto itself someday!), but for those who have a CFP already, I just don’t see the education/niche/specialization value-add. I suppose if someone wants to pay the money for the extra letters, that’s their prerogative, although sadly there are a lot of programs out there for CFPs who just want to pay money to add extra letters…
      – Michael

  • Jim

    Mike, another designation to consider is the CRPC, Chartered Retirement Planning Counseler. A professional designation awarded by the College for Financial Planning to individuals who complete a study program and pass a final multiple-choice examination. Successful applicants earn the right to use the CRPC designation with their names for two years, which can improve job opportunities, professional reputation and pay. Every two years, CRPC professionals must complete 16 hours of continuing education and pay a small fee to continue using the designation.

  • Chris Rivers

    What about behavioral finance? Are there any programs or designations available that focus on that side of things? Admittedly it is still an emergent area of study but I hoped we might see something that provided a concrete track or curriculum by now.

  • Erin Baehr

    Thanks Michael. Another to consider for the niche list is Qualified Kingdom Advisor for Christian professionals (including financial advisors, accountants, and attorneys) who want to specialize in Biblically based advice and financial stewardship. It’s issued by (founded by Ron Blue and Larry Burkett) and candidates must either have a current designation like CFP or ChFC or ten years experience, complete the Core Training, sign a statement of faith, and provide letters of reference from their pastor and two clients. I can’t say enough about what a top notch organization this is and the client tools and opportunities for education they provide. You can be a member without being a Qualified Kingdom Advisor as well.

    • DanO50

      Like politics, religion belongs in it’s own domain, and not mixed with the advice business or used to confer credibility. I say this as a seasoned advisor (32 years) who’s first mentor was a Fundamentalist Christian who perpetrated a classic “affinity fraud” of recruiting church members into high commission LP’s, many of which later collapsed harming the elderly people for whom such investments were clearly unsuitable. FINRA agreed and sanctioned him.

      Even as an inexperience newcomer I questioned the actions and was assured by him…”Don’t worry God has a plan”. I don’t think “God’s Plan” for for these people to be harmed.

      An indictment of religion or Christianity? Not at all. Just a call to let professional advice stand on it’s own, in an agnostic manner and specifically not to use religious affiliation for a marketing entree’ to confer credibility.

  • JL

    It’s an interesting comment that CFP is no longer the differentiator it once was. I wonder if that would be the case if all CFPs were knows as the cream of the crop. The credential
    itself has raised the bar over the years. But the growing number of credential holders often practice in firms we would not recommend to our Mom. The CFP Board also has a way of attracting criticism that spills beyond trade publications.

    By contrast, when I passed the CPA exam to become a financial planner, a mentor told me that CPA is all I would ever need to impress any prospect. He cautioned me against chasing credentials to gain clients. Instead, he suggested that I create my own education course by reading at least 20 minutes a day on subjects specifically relevant to my clients. His point was that past CPA, my practice would be built on my expertise and reputation—not credentials.

    He built an SEC registered RIA as a sole practitioner whose only credential is “CPA(inactive)”. So, he proved his point.

    For my part, I added the PFS credential because of the community of like-minded peers it creates. That community has been inspiring and tremendously helpful to support a practice rooted in the technical and ethical foundation of CPAs. I view CPA/PFS as a specialized designation within a coherent professional framework. Of course, it’s also a wonderful differentiator.

    I also have another credential that I never mention because I think it dilutes my primary credential. That’s the advantage of a credential that places credibility over popularity.

  • Brooke

    Do you know how many advisors actually have the CFP?

  • Harold Evensky

    Michael, most excellent!

    • Michael Kitces

      Thanks Harold! :)

  • Kevin Seibert

    I would ask others interested in a post CFP retirement focused designation to consider the Certified Retirement Counselor (CRC) Certification offered by the International Foundation for Retirement Education (InFRE). As Managing Director of InFRE I obviously have a bias but the CRC has been described in other articles as one of the top tier retirement designations available to advisors today. It is one of only four financial related designations independently accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Independent accreditation is an indication that the designation has met rigorous standards related to governance, testing process and recertification. The curriculum covers both retirement accumulation and distribution topics and was put together with the help of InFRE’s academic partner Texas Tech University.

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  • Jeff Zesiger

    Hi Michael, As always, great article. I enjoyed your comments and as a graduate of the College of Financial Planning’s MSFP program, I highly recommend it to anyone looking beyond the CFP. Additionally through the electives, you can also focus on areas of Behavioral Finance, etc.

  • Michael

    Any observations regarding the Certified College Planning Specialist (CCPS)? It is an area of interest for me and I may pursue it, although the number of inquiries on this topic among my current client base has been fairly modest.
    Thanks for your thoughts.

  • Scott

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for the post. It is helpful to see a comprehensive list of designations laid out in one spot. I know in other posts you view the MSFS program as your favorite next step for CFP professionals but would you still make that recommendation if someone could somewhat easily obtain their CPA license? I have fortunately gained the necessary work experience working under a CPA from my past firm and only need an additional 4 courses to satisfy the education requirement for my state. Putting time and finances aside, of the two which one would you recommend pursuing?

  • rich a

    Hello Michael.

    You are the King, Queen, and Prince of content. Thank you.

    What our industry education and training is missing is education on giving advice on directly held real estate investments, and real estate in general. I am not talking about the “fatherly advice” that is generic and not modeled. I am talking about taking into consideration cash flow, tax shelter, other tax considerations, ownership type, and so on. If you decide to get to this sphere in your next article on the topic, consider reviewing CCIM – arguably the top general real estate investment designation on the business. I have made a nice career dispensing financial advice in this space. As an instructor on the topic, I am happy to help you with this.

    Rich Arzaga, CFP, CCIM

    • Michael Kitces

      Thanks for sharing. I’m really not familiar with CCIM – which, I suppose, makes your point!

      I will be sure to check it out next time I look at updating this list. I definitely agree with you that this is a weak spot for advisors, far more than it should be given the relevance of direct real estate investing/ownership as both an investment and in the extreme an inflation hedge.
      – Michael

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  • B

    Just a note – the MS program in Personal Financial Planning at CFFP does NOT get you the MSFP designation when reporting to SEC/FINRA. It is very carefully phrased as M.S. in Personal Financial Planning.

  • Amy

    I noticed that you didn’t have any designations from the College for Financial Planning (except their Master’s) listed. What is the reason for that? Are they not as good? Not as comprehensive? Not as credible? Just curious…

    • Michael Kitces

      Many of the College for Financial Planning’s programs are what I would label “pre-CFP” programs. They’re intended to be stepping stones TO the CFP certification, but not for coursework BEYOND it, which was the point of this post-CFP list.

      Notably, their ADPA designation, which I would view as a post-CFP specialization, did make the list! :)
      – Michael

  • Cal


    Thank you for this article.

    I am wondering about the MTAX path combined with an EA because I enjoy working with tax. My question is how do I use those designations to build a meaningful niche?

    Cal Lennberg, CFP

  • carlos

    does if make sense to become a CPA and then get a CFP or Personal Finance Service certification? i am considering these options as i prepare taxes for client and then wanting to offer additional services

Michael E. Kitces

I write about financial planning strategies and practice management ideas, and have created several businesses to help people implement them.

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