What Is an Accredited Personal Financial Planning Specialist?

An accredited personal financial planning specialist is a certified public accountant (CPA) who has obtained special training in providing financial advice to families and individuals. Typically, these professionals will advise clients on how best to achieve specific financial goals, such as saving for retirement or a child's education.

An accredited personal financial planning specialist will examine their clients' assets and discuss the best financial vehicles, like a Roth IRA versus a traditional one, for them.

Key Takeaways

  • Accredited personal financial planning specialist is a financial designation used by financial planners.
  • To obtain it, candidates must first become CPAs before writing an exam overseen by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
  • Accredited personal financial planning specialists can help their clients with financial challenges such as paying off debts, saving for retirement, and putting together investment portfolios.
  • Earning certification may take up to 75 hours of education in the specialized area of financial planning.
  • Accredited personal financial planning specialists may need to know how to assist clients with debt management, as well.

Understanding Accredited Personal Financial Planning Specialists

The primary role of an accredited personal financial planning specialist is to help clients organize their financial lives. In some cases, this might mean assisting the clients to overcome an unsustainable debt burden.

In contrast, it might involve saving for the future or assembling an investment portfolio. Although they can help clients assess their needs and understand the pros and cons of different investment options, They will typically defer to other financial professionals to execute on these investments.

To become an accredited personal financial planning specialist, CPAs must first complete a financial planning examination administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). In addition, candidates must also have at least two years of full-time professional experience in financial planning, in addition to 75 hours of formal education in financial planning during the previous five years.

Accredited personal financial planning specialists must also adhere to a strict set of professional guidelines designed to ensure that they act in their clients' best interests at all times.

The AICPA also requires accredited personal financial planning specialists to complete 60 hours' worth of ongoing professional education every three years.

Example of an Accredited Personal Financial Planning Specialist

Emma is a diligent financial professional with a background in finance and accounting. After working as a CPA for several years, she focuses her career on financial planning services, hoping to help clients improve their financial lives. To that end, she enrolls in financial planning courses administered by the AICPA, and she successfully obtains the accredited personal financial planning specialist designation.

As a financial planning professional, Emma's responsibilities include accurately assessing her clients' unique needs, risk tolerance, and financial capacity. Once she has obtained a thorough understanding of their overall financial picture, she uses her expertise to help them set realistic goals and achieve them over a reasonable timeframe.

For example, one of Emma's first clients came to her because he was deeply in debt. Despite earning a reasonable salary, he had fallen behind in his credit card payments and found it increasingly difficult to meet his minimum payments. With Emma's assistance, he could use debt consolidation and careful budgeting to gradually pay off his debts. Today, he is slowly building an investment portfolio to save for his retirement.

What Does an Accredited Personal Financial Planning Specialist Do?

An accredited personal financial planning specialist can help clients plan for retirement, pay down debt, save for college, create a savings portfolio, and advise on other personal financial matters for individuals and families.

What Education Does an Accredited Personal Financial Planning Specialist Have?

An accredited personal financial planning specialist needs to pass a planning examination given by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), have two years of full-time experience, and be able to acquire 75 hours of formal education.

Do You Have to Be a CPA to Become an Accredited Personal Financial Planning Specialist?

Yes. To be an accredited personal financial planning specialist, you have to already be a certified public accountant (CPA) and you must obtain special training to be able to provide financial advice to families and individuals.