Certifications

Taxation

Certified Tax Specialist (CTS)

A Certified Tax Specialist is a designation that a tax preparer has received advanced training and expertise in being able to provide strategies to help their clients reduce their taxable income.  Accepted by the AICPA and the NAEA, professionals holding this designation have the knowledge of individual income tax issues, as well as corporate and partnership taxes. 

To earn this designation, candidates must pass three comprehensive examinations and develop a case study for completion, as well as have at least 2,000 hours of work experience in the financial services industry or a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.  Designees must obtain 30 hours of continuing education every two years.

Enrolled Agent (EA)

Enrolled Agents (EAs) are federally authorized tax practitioners who have demonstrated technical competence in tax law and are the only taxpayer representatives licensed to practice by the United States government.  Three examinations, as well as an extensive background investigation by the FBI are required.  Only EAs, Attorneys, and CPAs may represent taxpayers without limitation before the IRS.  EAs advise and represent taxpayers before the IRS who are being examined, taxpayers who are unable to pay, and taxpayers who wish to avoid or recover penalties.  EAs prepare tax returns for individuals, partnerships, corporations, estates, trusts, and any other entities with tax-reporting requirements.  Unlike Attorneys and CPAs, who may or may not choose to specialize in taxes, all EAs specialize in taxation and are required by the federal government to maintain their professional skills with continuing professional education.

 

Financial

Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)

The Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) is a professional financial planning designation awarded by the American College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. A ChFC must meet experience requirements and pass 13 examinations on the fundamentals of financial planning, including income tax, insurance, investment, and estate planning.  A ChFC designation means a professional is prepared to meet the needs of individuals, families, and small businesses.  Continuing professional education requirements must be met every two years.

Certified Long Term Care (CLTC)

Certified Long Term Care is a designation granted by the
Corporation For Long-Term Care Certification.   CLTC graduates have completed rigorous multidisciplinary training on the professions of long term care.  A CLTC professional is highly trained in the field of long-term care and knows the right questions to ask about solving financial planning questions should a client or family member become incapacitated.  Annual continuing professional education requirement must be met by all CLTCs.

 

Investments

Registered Investment Advisor (RIA)

The term Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) is used to describe an Investment Adviser who is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission or a state’s securities agency.  The term IA (Investment Adviser) is defined by the Securities and Exchange Commission as an individual or firm that is in the business of giving advice about securities.  An IA must adhere to a fiduciary standard of care laid out in the US Investment Advisers Act of 1940.  This standard requires IAs to act and serve a client’s best interests.  Agents of the RIA who are charged with providing investment advice are called an “Investment Adviser Representative (IAR).  IARs must complete the FINRA Series 66 in addition to the Series 7 or 65 Exams and be one of the following:  ChFC (Chartered Financial Consultant, CFP (Certified Financial Planner), PFS (Personal Financial Specialist), CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst), CIC (Chartered Investment Counselor)

Series 65

The Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination, also called the Series 65 exam, developed by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), and administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).  This examination is designed to qualify candidates as investment adviser representatives.  The exam covers laws, regulations, ethics, and knowledge on specific products.  A Series 65 Securities License is required by the State of Texas for individuals that act as an investment adviser.  All Registered Investment Advisers (RIAs) must hold a Series 65 license.

 

Risk Management

Chartered Life Underwriter(CLU)

Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) is a professional in the field of life insurance and finance advising. This designation, awarded by the American Institute of Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters is one of the industry’s most coveted and prestigious credentials.  CLUs have studied, in depth, the insurance needs of individuals, business owners, and professional clients.  Ten examinations must be passed for completion of the designation and annual continuing professional education requirements must be met to remain a CLU. 

Life Underwriting Training Council Fellow (LUTCF)

 The LUTCF designation is jointly conferred by the National Association of Financial Advisors (NAIFA) and the American College.  Designees complete 300 hours of intense product-focused education as well as an Ethics course, culminating in five examinations.  All LUTCFs are members in good standing with NAIFA.  The study and knowledge base pulls together the coordination of personal and small business risk planning as it relates to insurance needs.