Myles Clements was only a year or so into his career as a financial advisor when he decided to become a chartered retirement planning counselor, or CRPC.
“When you’re coming out of college, you have a lot of practical skills and a lot of knowledge in this theory of giving financial advice,” Clements, who is now a financial advisor at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Texas, said in an interview. “But to put that to practical use is a challenge for any advisor.”
Despite majoring in accounting and finance at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, where he was also a student leader in the accounting club and the Rock Pride Investments Club, Clements wanted more training to help clients with the complexities of financial planning in real life — especially retirement, which can be particularly challenging for Americans today.
“If you’re going to do this for a living, you need to make sure the advice you’re giving is appropriate. Because people are trusting you with their life savings,” he said. By getting his CRPC, Clements felt more prepared to later obtain his certified financial planner license. He now has several letters after his name, including the the CFP and the APMA, or accredited portfolio management advisor. Clements believes all advisors who are just starting out could use designations to stand out in the marketplace — both to clients and employers.
“I personally didn’t feel comfortable giving tons of advice until I had some of these things. Because how do I know what I’m saying is right?”
From RICP (retirement income certified professional) to CSRP (certified specialist in retirement planning), retirement certifications abound in the industry. Yet the CRPC appears to carry significant weight, even in the crowded designation world. The College for Financial Planning, owned by Kaplan, maintains the certification, which was first offered in 1997. It is one of the oldest and most respected, according to Mike Harris, who runs the CRPC program there.
“Retirement planning is a little bit of a different animal, and the financial services industry really needs some outside help in going into all the details,” said Harris, an associate professor at the college. Harris also teaches a CFP course and has taught other licenses in the industry, such as the Series 7 for brokers — and given the increasing complexity of retirement planning needs around issues like benefits and taxes, he says many other general industry licenses only scratch the surface of retirement training.
“Even if you’re not paid specifically, to know about Social Security, you sort of are. You need to have some knowledge or somebody that you can say, ‘Hey, listen, we have somebody in our firm, or I have a friend, and they do Social Security,’ that you can send them to, who you vetted.” Otherwise, if a broker ignores a client’s request for help on such matters, they could end up driving the client to another advisor who does understand retirement better, Harris said.
Below, Financial Planning presents a brief guide to the CRPC.