What Is a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)?

A Chartered Financial Consultant is a professional designation representing the completion of a comprehensive course consisting of financial education, examinations, and practical experience. Chartered Financial Consultant designations are granted by the American College upon completion of seven required courses and two elective courses. Those who earn the designation are understood to be knowledgeable in financial matters and to have the ability to provide sound advice.

Key Takeaways

  • A Chartered Financial Consultant completes a course that covers financial education and practical experience.
  • The ChFC degree includes topics such as estate planning and employee benefits planning.
  • After earning the designation, earning continuing education credits is required.

How a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) Works

To be considered for the program, the applicant must already have a minimum of three years working full-time in the financial industry. Also, it is recommended that applicants have a degree related to finance or business before applying, as it will make the program much easier.

The ChFC degree program requires students to complete nine college-level courses or 27 hours of college credit in the field. Students must achieve mastery of more than 100 integrated advanced financial planning topics, including:

  • Estate Planning
  • Insurance Planning
  • Retirement Planning
  • Financial Planning Process and Environment
  • Income Tax Planning
  • Employee Benefits Planning
  • Asset Protection Planning
  • Estate Tax, Transfer Tax, and Gift Tax Planning
  • Applications of Comprehensive Financial Planning and Consulting

There is also curriculum on how rules within those segments change in relation to small business planning, financial planning for households in the process of divorce, or for families who have special needs dependents. Exams for each course are proctored and closed-book, according to the standards of business and finance courses offered at any accredited university.

After Earning the Designation

Once the ChFC designation has been earned, there is also a requirement for continuing education credits to maintain the credential. Holders of the ChFC designation must complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years in order to maintain the designation, as well as adhering to The American College Code of Ethics and Procedures.

An advisor who has received this credential may work with individuals to assist them with retirement savings, in particular for early retirement, and budget planning, or with companies to assess their investment strategies. There may be an expectation that the advisor remains continuously abreast of all financial laws at international, national, and local levels that might apply to the clients they work with and the financial activities they are involved in.

Why Chartered Financial Consultant Designation Matters

The curriculum to earn this professional designation from the American College is made up of courses designed to include a range of financial planning duties and responsibilities. This includes the practical application of the skills learned in real-life scenarios. According to the college, financial advisors who receive the designation may earn a higher income compared with industry peers who do not.

However, there is debate about whether or not this designation is on a par with or supersedes the certified financial planner designation, which is awarded and administered by the CFP Board, in terms of relevance within the financial industry. The CFP Board has contended that its designation includes adherence to a code of ethics and what it describes as a more thorough examination process for its applicants compared with the program and designation available through The American College.