What Is the 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.
Keeping up with changes to tax codes and other laws is important for a chartered retirement plans specialist. For example, the passage of the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act in December 2019 brought forth some hefty changes to the retirement industry. As of 2020, under the new law, the age for taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) is no longer 70.5, but age 72. Then, a few years later, Congress passed the SECURE 2.0 Act which increased the RMD age to 73. Being mindful of these changes as they occur are central to the role of chartered retirement plans specialist.
- 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.
- To receive certification, includes coursework and an exam, and the CRPS can test out of certain CFP requirements.
- The CRPS varies from a Chartered Retirement Plans Counselor in that the CRPC tends to focus on individuals while the CRPS tends to focus on businesses.
Understanding the Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist (CRPS)
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 acknowledgment of the complexity of setting up and running a company-sponsored retirement plan.
Individuals who have earned the CRP designation report a 22% increase in earnings, according to the College for Financial Planning. With it, graduates can test out of one of the seven courses in the college's CFP Certified Professional Education Program. Completing the course can also provide up to 28 hours of continuing education credits.
The program costs $1,300 in addition to choosing between live and on-demand classes. 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.
CRPS candidates may take the exam online via the College for Financial Planning's online portal or live (though dates are limited).
Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist (CRPS) 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 CRPS, which focuses on businesses, the CRPC focuses on individual clients.
CRPC professionals have to keep up with current trends and any new laws to better serve their clients, so every two years, they must pay a small fee and complete 16 hours of continuing education in order to keep their designation.
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.
Is a CRPS Better Than a CFP?
A CFP certification will generally have a better grasp on a broader range of financial matters. On the other hand, a CRPS will have more specialized knowledge, especially around retirement planning. Individuals may obtain their CRPS earlier in their career as it may be more suitable based on their limited experience. However, a CFP is often better in the long-run for professionals wanting to be more engaged in a variety of financial planning activities.
What Is the Pass Rate for the CRPC?
Test takers must achieve a score of 70% or higher to pass the CRPC exam.
What Is the Primary Benefit of Obtaining a CRPC?
Obtaining a CRPC demonstrates your proven acumen across a variety of retirement planning aspects such as Social Security, Federal taxes, retirement account vehicles, and estate planning. As you embark in your career and strive to land additional clients, having a CRPC provides more legitimacy to your knowledge and installs trust in your clients that you have a proven knowledge of what you consult them on. In addition, holders of a CRPC report having earned higher wages than non-CRPCs.
The Bottom Line
A Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist (CRPS) is a program designed to demonstrate an individual's savviness in knowing various aspect of retirement planning. The program entails completing courses and demonstrating knowledge via an exam. The CRPS focuses more on businesses, while other programs such as the CRPC focuses more heavily on individuals.