What Is a Certified Fund Specialist?

Certified fund specialists have received a certification from the Institute of Business and Finance (IBF) for their expertise in mutual funds and the mutual fund industry. The Certified Fund Specialist exam is one of the oldest certification designations in the mutual fund industry.

Understanding Certified Fund Specialist (CFS)

Certified Fund Specialists receive training for the exam from IBF. IBF is the creator and issuer of the CFS designation. IBF developed the CFS designation in 1988, the year it was founded. IBF also offers other industry certifications including the Certified Annuity Specialist, Certified Estate and Trust Specialist, Certified Tax Specialist, Certified Income Specialist, Social Security and Medicare certification, Alternative Investments certification, Divorce certification and a Master of Science in Financial Services.

CFS Test Outline

The CFS exam is designed to provide specialists with current market information on mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), real estate investment trusts (REITs), closed-end funds and other similar retail investment offerings. It also includes material on advanced fund analysis and fund selection, asset allocation, portfolio construction, risk management, taxes, and estate planning.

Individuals must have a bachelor's degree or 2,000 hours of financial services work experience. A six-module self-study program provided by IBF is also a pre-requisite for taking the exam. IBF estimates individuals can complete the certification in approximately 15 weeks however they are given one year to complete the course once enrolled. The CFS certification requires three proctored, online exams and a case study for completion.

The certification can be obtained from IBF for $1,365. The total cost includes registration, tuition, textbooks, review questions, practice exams, reference sheets, shipping, the final exams and case study, and a diploma.

CFS Expertise

Certified Financial Specialist certifications are typically obtained by personal financial advisors, accountants, bankers, brokers, money managers, and certified financial planners. It provides financial service professionals with additional expertise for advising clients on which mutual funds best suit their particular needs. The CFS designation does not license individuals to buy or sell mutual funds; however, in many cases Certified Fund Specialists do have this license, which enables them to buy and sell the funds for their clients.

Certified Fund Specialists must also maintain continuing education. This is also conducted by IBF which seeks to offer professionals an edge in awareness of contemporary investing tools and market practices through its continuing education offerings. Certified Fund Specialists must complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years.