RIA, MBA, CFP, CFA, CPA... what exactly do these designations mean? Here is an explanation for each of the designations someone at ARS Wealth Advisors holds, and what all went into obtaining it.
RIA - Registered Investment Advisor: This designation applies to ARS Wealth Advisors as a firm. As a SEC Registered Investment Advisor, we are legally bound by a fiduciary standard when serving clients. In simple terms this means that our clients’ interests always come first – ahead of our own, our employees, and those of our firm.
CFP - Certified Financial Planner: A professional designation offered through the CFP Board is available after completing 4 different sets of qualifications. The first is an educational component which is made up of 8 courses covering topics ranging from Estate Planning to Income Taxation. Once the coursework is done a comprehensive 10 hour board exam must be passed. Additionally those using the CFP title must also complete several years on hands on financial planning experinece and are held to the highest standard of ethics and professional responsibility as outlined in the CFP Board's Standards of Professional Conduct.
CFA - Chartered Financial Analyst: An international professional designation offered through the CFA Institute to financial analysts who pass a series of three 6 hour examinations. Recipients must also have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and have 48 months of professional work experience. CFA charter holders are also obligated to adhere to a strict code of ethics governing their professional conduct.
CPA - Certified Public Accountant: Recipient is appointed as a CPA; after passing all four parts of the Uniform CPA Examination, having satisfied state work experience requirement of at least one year under the supervision of a CPA, and having met educational requirements. Recipient must also complete continuing education requirements.
MBA - Master of Business Administration: A postgraduate degree that is awarded to students who have completed an in depth study of business principles and practice. Typical MBA programs cover both business theory as well as application of business and management principles. The core courses of an MBA program are designed to introduce students to various areas of business such as accounting, finance, operations management, and marketing.
PFS - Personal Financial Specialist: A Personal Financial Specialist is specialty credential for CPAs who are expert at helping individuals with all aspects of wealth management. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) grants the Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) credential only to certified public accountants (CPA) with significant personal financial planning education and experience. Individuals pursue the PFS credential because they want to display their expertise and knowledge as it relates to all aspects of financial planning..