Continuing Education

Many professions for which a finance major is suited upon completion of the finance degree are changing and evolving fields. For example, many finance majors pursue personal financial planning as a career choice after graduation. The economy has undergone some dramatic changes recently and the retirement portfolios of many people have been drastically altered. If you are dispensing the same advice today to someone looking to build a nest egg for retirement than you would have three years ago, you will not remain in business as a personal financial planner for very long!

To stay current in their fields of choice, many financial professionals must maintain continuing education (CE) requirements throughout their careers. What follows is a listing of common designations for financial professionals and the CE requirements that apply once those designations are obtained. These requirements are always subject to change, so if you currently hold or wish to obtain one of these designations, it is your responsibility to make sure that the information you have regarding CE requirements is current. Professionals who let their CE requirements lapse risk losing their certifications and having to re-take the necessary courses and exams to obtain them again:

  • Certified financial planner (CFP). CFPs have demonstrated competence in all areas of financial planning. They are required to obtain thirty hours of CE credit every two years. Two of those hours must come from a program discussing the CFP Board's Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility and/or Financial Planning Practice Standards.
  • Chartered financial analyst (CFA). CFAs tend to work in the fields of money management for businesses or stock analysis rather than financial planning. A minimum of 20 hours of CE per calendar year, with a minimum of two hours based in ethics training, is recommended, but not required, for this designation.
  • Certified fund specialist (CFS). This designation involves an expertise in mutual funds. Thirty hours of CE every two years is required.
  • Chartered financial consultant (ChFC). This is perhaps a slightly less extensive version of the CFP designation; however, a thorough knowledge of personal financial planning is required to obtain this designation. Thirty hours of CE is required every two years.
  • Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA). This designation is reserved for investment consultants with at least three years of work experience as such. A minimum of 40 hours of continuing education is required every two years to keep this designation current.
  • Chartered market technician (CMT). CMTs will often work for hedge funds and money management firms in a technical analyst type of role. Fifteen CE credits a year is recommended, but not required, for this designation.
  • Certified public accountant (CPA). These folks are wired just a little bit differently than the rest of us...they LIKE doing taxes! As if navigating the IRS tax code did not provide them enough work, they need to obtain 120 hours of continuing professional education every three years to keep their licenses current.
  • Personal financial specialist (PFS). Individuals who hold the PFS designation are CPAs who also have a background in personal financial planning. This can increase their career opportunities and scope of business. Sixty hours of CE every three years is required for this designation.
  • Chartered life underwriter (CLU). Held mainly by insurance agents, CE requirements vary widely by state for this designation. Check with your state's department of insurance for the CE guidelines that pertain to your state.

Last Updated: 06/08/2014

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