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Financial certifications signify expertise, and there are many different certifications available for professionals today. Which is the best one for you? Choosing the right one can be challenging. Here are the top 4 financial certifications available in Canada.
Perhaps one of the best known financial planning designations in Canada and around the world is the Certified Financial Planner or CFP. This internationally-recognized designation is granted by the Financial Planning Standards Council and helps professionals demonstrate the knowledge and skills needed to work with clients to build a financial plan. To obtain the CFP designation, you must complete an FP Canada approved Core Curriculum program, pass a national exam and earn three years of qualifying work experience.
Changes are being made to the CFP certification program. Effective January 1, 2020, those pursuing CFP certification will no longer be required to attain FPSC Level 1 Certification in Financial Planning first. There will be new education requirements as well.
If you wish to earn your certification before the new changes are implemented, this is the perfect time to do so.
Chartered Investment Managers (CIM) work in the area of portfolio management for high-net-worth and institutional clients. They may also take their designation to work within the fund management side of things as equity traders or mutual funds wholesalers. The CIM is granted through the Canadian Securities Institute, and those who hold a CIM can register as a portfolio manager, advising representative or associated advising representative.
CIMs are involved in advanced money management and investment strategies. There are two unique education streams that lead to the CIM designation. To learn more about it, please visit the official site of the Canadian Securities Institute.
Offered through the Institute of Advanced Financial Planners, a Registered Financial Planner (RFP) is for those who have been in the financial planning role for a while and want to illustrate an advanced commitment with ongoing education.
Many individuals who pursue the RFP are already CFPs (Certified Financial Planners) and are looking for further education to continue supporting their clients. Planners must have been in the industry for a minimum of three years to become an RFP and be actively practicing. There is also a requirement to adhere to the institute’s code of ethics and professional standards to maintain the designation.
You also need to provide three character references from within the industry (including one from a current RFP). Once proven, you will join the institute as an associate member, register as an RFP then complete the following steps: three sponsor referrals, written financial plan for peer review, and a letter of engagement for review. If you clear these steps, you will be required to write the RFP exams.
Offered by the CFA Institute, Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation is the highest distinction in the investment management profession. CFAs gain expertise in advanced investment analysis and portfolio management. To enroll in the CFA program, a candidate must have a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) or be in their final year of their bachelor’s degree or have a combination of four years of full-time work experience and/or higher education. The work doesn’t need to be investment-related. Additionally, all candidates should have an internationally-viable passport and must be able to take the exams in English. Candidates must also complete a Professional Conduct Statement form.
Once these requirements are met and the program is complete, there are three levels of exams. Before joining the CFA as a regular member, there must be proof of completing four years of work experience in the investment field.
The CFA program leads to jobs like a portfolio manager, research analyst, or risk manager in the practices of derivatives, private equity, fixed income, equities and real estate. It’s a four (or more) year commitment to complete the program and is globally recognized so for those looking for an advanced designation in investment management.
There are many other designations and certifications in the finance profession. It is always advisable to do your own research to find out which program will be the right fit for you.