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Understanding Financial Designations

On our website, TV show, podcast, or YouTube channel, you may have noticed various letters behind the names of the retirement planners at Merkle Retirement Planning. We wanted to take some time to explain those designations and how they can help you achieve your retirement vision.  

Certified Financial Fiduciary®  
In 2018, the National Association of Certified Financial Fiduciaries (NACertified Financial Fiduciary) created the Certified Financial Fiduciary®, or Certified Financial Fiduciary designation, to help financial advisors and retirement planners go above and beyond federal government requirements. The federal government dictates that certain professionals, like lawyers or financial advisors, must be bound by fiduciary duty, acting in the best interest of their clients. The Certified Financial Fiduciary designation goes above and beyond the federal requirements.  

To obtain the Certified Financial Fiduciary designation, retirement planners must have industry experience, complete NACertified Financial Fiduciary training, pass the certification exam, and agree to uphold the Certified Financial Fiduciary code of conduct. Once certified, Certified Financial Fiduciarys must complete continuing education and comply with NCAFF’s ethical standards to maintain their designation.  

These ethical standards include upholding the highest moral, ethical, and fiduciary service standards when working with families and individuals. There is no other designation training that focuses solely on understanding and being the best fiduciary one can be.  
Many consider the CFP® the standard of excellence for financial planners. The CFP® is a comprehensive designation that has been around for more than 30 years. The designation requires training and exams that encourage a holistic approach to retirement planning. The approach focuses on investment, tax, income, and legacy components. A CFP® is a financial professional who has met the training and experience requirements of the CFP® Board, passed the certification exam, and committed to the CFP® Boards ethical standards, which require them to put their clients’ interests first. The CFP® Board refers to the certification requirements as the 4 E’s: education, exam, experience, and ethics. According to the CFP® website, the average time to complete the coursework is 12-18 months.  
Retirement Income Certified Professional®  
Retirement Income Certified Professional®, or RICP®, is a certification that highlights expertise in working with pre-retirees and retirees. The designation is issued by the American College of Financial Services (ACFS) of Pennsylvania. According to its website, students will learn the 18 major risks clients face in retirement, including strategies for Social Security, choosing the right retirement savings solutions, and legacy planning. Three courses are required for certification: Retirement Income Process, Strategies, and Solutions, Sources of Retirement Income, and Managing a Retirement Income Plan. The ACFS estimates that each course requires 45 to 60 hours of study. Continuing education, an ongoing commitment to the code of ethics, and maintaining good standing in the industry are required to keep the RICP® designation.  

To check out Merkle Retirement Planning team members’ designations and licenses, go to the “Our Team” page on our website by clicking this link.  

These important designations allow us to maintain a high standard of professionalism, customer service, and expertise in all areas of retirement planning. You can talk to a retirement planner about our retirement planning process and any other retirement questions by scheduling a complimentary 15 Minute Retirement Check-Up Call. Click the button below to schedule your call today!  

Sources: nationalCertified Financial and

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