What is 'Certified Trust and Financial Advisor - CTFA'

Certified Trust and Financial Advisor (CTFA) is a professional designation offered by the American Bankers Association (ABA), which provides training and knowledge in taxes, investments, financial planning, trusts and estates. The CTFA credential is appropriate for professionals who have a career in banking, broking, financial planning, taxation or trust administration.

BREAKING DOWN 'Certified Trust and Financial Advisor - CTFA'

To receive the Certified Trust and Financial Advisor designation, candidates must have a minimum level of wealth management work experience and approved training programs. Applicants are also required to pass an examination successfully. Continuing education is needed to maintain the CTFA designation. (Looking at wealth management firms? For more, see: The Biggest and Best Wealth Management Firms.)

Certified Trust and Financial Advisor Requirements

Applicants must have three years of experience in wealth management and meet one of the following training options:

  • Hold foundation, intermediate and advanced ABA Trust Certificates. These can be earned online at an ABA Trust School, at an ABA-led in-bank Trust School or a combination of both. If applicants complete all three certificates online, the ABA’s CTFA Exam Online Prep course is also required.
  • Completed Cannon Financial Institutes Trust School’s Level I, Level II and Level III courses.
  • Completed Campbell University’s Trust and Investment Management Degree.

Or have:

  • Five years of wealth management experience and hold a bachelor’s degree.
  • 10 or more years of wealth management experience.

The ABA defines professional wealth management experience as providing client advice relating to trusts, estates, IRAs, qualified retirement plans, custody and individual asset management accounts. Providing specialty services in administration, investment management, tax, legal, finance and estate planning is also considered professional wealth management experience by the ABA.

In addition to satisfying these requirements, applicants are required to sign the ABA Professional Certifications’ Code of Ethics statement.

Certified Trust and Financial Advisor Exam

Applicants must purchase the exam, which is $725. Retakes of the exam cost $425. The exam has a duration of four hours and consists of 200 multiple-choice questions. Areas of knowledge tested include fiduciary and trust activities, financial planning, taxation law and planning, investment management and ethics. The exam also tests applicants' ability to apply their knowledge to practical examples. Applicants are not permitted to use a calculator or any mobile device during the exam.

Certified Trust and Financial Advisor Renewal

To maintain the CTFA designation, holders must complete 45 CE credits every three years, adhere to the ABA Professional Certifications' Code of Ethics and pay an annual renewal fee of $249. Individuals who hold two or more ABA certifications receive a renewal discount.

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