What Is the Chartered Wealth Manager (CWM)?

Chartered wealth manager (CWM) is a professional designation issued by the GAFM Global Academy of Finance and Management, formerly the American Academy of Financial Management (AAFM). It is intended to certify the knowledge and skill of wealth management professionals.

The prerequisites for the CWM program are three or more years of professional experience in wealth management and a GAFM-approved degree or other approved program such as a master's degree in certain fields.

Key Takeaways

  • The chartered wealth manager (CWM) designation is a professional certification provided to wealth managers and offered by the Global Academy of Finance and Management.
  • The CWM certifies professional competence to employers, colleagues, and customers in the areas of financial planning, investments, risk, economics, tax, retirement, estate planning, and money and banking.
  • Applicants must possess a master's degree in finance, law, economics, math, wealth management, or a related field and over five years of experience. Academic professors and researchers, those holding Ph.D.s or CPAs, and lawyers may apply for individual exemptions from the above requirements.

Understanding the Chartered Wealth Manager

The chartered wealth manager program focuses on topics such as relationship management, communication, sales, and financial planning and requires 15 hours per year of continuing education requirements.

The GAFM is a global institution that offers candidates certification to improve their knowledge and credentials in finance, accounting, and management consulting. It offers other certifications such as chartered market analyst (CMA), accredited management consultant (AMC), chartered portfolio manager (CPM), and master financial planner (MFP). The GAFM Board of Standards was launched in 1996 through a merger between the Founders Advisory Committee of the Original Tax and Estate Planning Law Review and the American Academy of Financial Management & Analysts.

CWM Requirements

Applicants who wish to pursue the CWM designation must meet minimum academic and work requirements. Candidates must have two of the following:

  • An ABA AACSB, ACBSP, or Equis Accredited Financial, Investment, Accounting, Tax, or Economics degree
  • Three years of professional experience
  • A government-recognized degree: licenses, degree, MBA/masters or law degree, Ph.D., CPA, recognized designations, and specialization work
  • A related degree and exams from an AAFM-approved and -accredited university program
  • Completion of online executive certification training programs

To prove that applicants have earned a masters degree, they must provide submission of:

  • AAFM certification application showing education from an AAFM-qualified education provider 
  • Good faith evidence of application, enrollment, and completion of degree and exams from anaccredited or government-sanctioned program
  • Evidence of work experience and any diplomas, licenses, designations, certifications, government work/training, teaching work, research, or other awards

No CWM exam is required. However, CWM professionals must demonstrate competence in the following one-dozen topic areas:

  1. Estate planning and trusts
  2. Asset management
  3. Portfolio management
  4. International taxation
  5. Retirement law
  6. Economics
  7. Investments
  8. Money and banking
  9. High net worth (HNW) consulting
  10. Relationship management, compliance, and ethics
  11. Business entities & organizations
  12. Risk management and insurance

CWM holders are additionally required to complete at least 15 hours of continuing education annually.

Duties of a CWM Designee

A CWM typically assists retail investors with the following:

  • Building investment strategies: Chartered wealth managers build strategies around their clients' risk tolerances, personal situations, and long-term financial goals. For example, a CWM may build a stock portfolio of high yielding dividend stocks for an investor who seeks passive income.
  • Providing independent advice: A CWM analyzes large amounts of financial news and data and provides clients with an independent assessment of the information. After reading through a prospectus for an upcoming initial public offering (IPO), for instance, a CWM may advise his client to avoid investing.
  • Actively listening: Clients’ circumstances continually change. A CWM organizes regular meetings with investors and determines if a change in their situation requires an investment strategy review. After a client meeting, for example, a CWM may decide to do a portfolio rebalance after learning about an inheritance. Actively listening helps to ensure CWMs satisfy the know your client (KYC) rule.
  • Teaching: A CWM actively educates investors about the financial markets and how to build wealth. They teach their clients about fundamental principles such as diversification, asset allocation, and the importance of discipline. If a CWM has active trading clients, they may explain to them the importance of capital preservation and risk/reward.
  • Financial guardianship: Chartered wealth managers monitor the markets for clients and alert them to new opportunities or potential risks that might impact their portfolios. For instance, a CWM may inform a client of a surprise profit warning that is likely to negatively impact a portfolio holding.