What Is a Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist (CRPS)?

Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist (CRPS) is a credential for those who create, implement and maintain retirement plans for businesses. Unlike most other professional financial planning and advisory professional designations, the CRPS focuses on wholesale and business clients. It is awarded by the College for Financial Planning to individuals who pass an exam demonstrating their expertise.

Successful applicants earn the right to use the CRPS designation with their names for two years, which can improve job opportunities, professional reputation, and pay. Every two years, CRPS professionals must complete 16 hours of continuing education and pay a nominal fee to continue using the designation.

Key Takeaways

  • The Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist (CRPS) is a business-focused retirement plan advisor.
  • CRPS professionals advise firms and help them implement and maintain retirement plans.
  • The CRPS credential is awarded by the College for Financial Planning and requires rigorous study and passing a comprehensive written exam.

Understanding the Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist

The Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist program is a case-study based, client-centered problem-solving approach. The study program to become a CRPS covers types and characteristics of retirement plans, including IRAs, small business retirement plans, defined contribution plans, nonprofit plans, 401(k) and 403(b) plans, and government plans. It also covers plan distributions, plan design and implementation, plan establishment and operation, and fiduciary issues. The designation is an acknowledgement of the complexity setting up and running a company-sponsored retirement plan.

Individuals who have earned the CRPs designation report a 17% increase in earnings, according to the college. With it, graduates can test out of one of the six courses in the college's CFP Certified Professional Education Program. Completing the course can also provide up to 45 hours of continuing education credits.

The program costs $1,300, though individuals who work in the financial services field may be eligible for a discount. For more information on the certification or to enroll, visit The College for Financial Planning CRPS informational page.

Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist Course Work

The CRPS course enables candidates to master a wide variety of retirement plan types, such as SEP, SIMPLE, 401(k), defined benefit plans, and more. Specific course sections include:

  • Introduction to ERISA and the Fiduciary Standard
  • Employer-funded Defined Contribution Plans
  • Participant-Directed Retirement Plans
  • Retirement Plan Solutions for Small Business Owners
  • Retirement Plan Selection, Design, and Implementation
  • Administering ERISA-compliant Plans
  • Working with Plan Participants

Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist Exam

The CRPS program features open enrollment, meaning a candidate may enroll at any time as long as they pass the final exam within one year of enrolling. The first final exam attempt is included in the program's $1,300 price tag. Subsequent final exam attempts cost $100 each. Candidates must make their first attempt at passing the exam within six months of enrolling. CRPS candidate may take the exam online via the College for Financial Planning's online portal or live (though dates are limited).

Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist (CPRS) vs. Chartered Retirement Plans Counselor (CRPC)

Similar to the CRPS designation is the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC), a professional financial planning designation awarded by the College for Financial Planning. Unlike the CPRS, which focuses on businesses, the CRPC focuses on individual clients. Advisors may earn the CRPC designation by completing a study program and passing a final multiple-choice examination. Successful applicants earn the right to use the CRPC designation with their names for two years, which can improve job opportunities, professional reputation and pay. Every two years, CRPC professionals must complete 16 hours of continuing education and pay a small fee to continue using the designation.

CRPCs are focused on retirement planning. The CRPC program is developed with a focus on client-centered problem solving. Applicants gain in-depth knowledge of individuals' needs both before and after retirement.