DEFINITION of '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.

BREAKING DOWN 'Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)'

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

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 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 an 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.

The training for a Chartered Financial Consultant includes lessons in understanding key elements of the financial planning world, such as retirement planning, estate planning, insurance, investments, and income taxes. 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.

Once the designation has been earned, there is also a requirement for continuing education credits to maintain the credential. 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.

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