What Is a Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP)?

The term Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP) refers to a financial professional who specializes in retirement income planning. Financial professionals earn the RICP designation after following the program for retirement income professionals. Once qualified, RICPs advise retirees and near-retirees as to the best way to use the assets they have accumulated for retirement to live comfortably within a realistic budget and not run out of money prematurely.

Key Takeaways

  • A retirement income certified professional specializes in retirement income planning.
  • The designation is given to professionals who complete the RICP training program offered by the American College of Financial Professionals.
  • RICPs help retirees and near-retirees use the assets they have accumulated for retirement sustainably.
  • RICP applicants must have three years' worth of business experience.
  • Students take three courses and must pass an exam for each.

Understanding Retirement Income Certified Professionals (RICPs)

According to its website, the American College of Financial Services gives financial professionals access to the education they need to achieve their career goals. Financial programs range from the chartered life underwriter (CLU) insurance specialty program—the first financial designation program offered by the school since 1927—to the more recent RICP.

The not-for-profit college located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, created the RICP designation to serve the financial planning needs of America’s increasing population of retirees and near-retirees. The knowledge required to accumulate retirement savings and the ability to use that savings to generate a comfortable and lasting income in retirement is considered two separate traits.

The growing number of retirees is creating demand for financial professionals who can guide people in the optimal use of their assets during retirement—not just how to save for retirement as they age.

The RICP is designed for financial professionals who already have a broad-based financial planning credential, such as chartered financial consultant, certified financial planner, or CLU, or whose businesses already emphasize retirement income planning. Applicants must have three years of business experience in order to be considered for the program. According to the website, an undergraduate or graduate degree is the equivalent of one year's worth of experience.

To take the RICP program, applicants must already be financial professionals such as a chartered financial consultant, a certified financial planner, or a chartered life underwriter.

Designed as a self-study program, the RICP curriculum consists of three online courses that students must complete. They are as follows:

  • Retirement Income Process, Strategies, and Solutions
  • Sources of Retirement Income
  • Managing a Retirement Income Plan

The program provides students with a series of best practices ranging from topics such as Social Security, risks in retirement financial planning, Medicare and other health insurance options, long-term care needs, as well as tax and estate planning. These arm RICPs with the tools they need to help their clients maintain their customary standard of living throughout retirement, address income gaps, create an estate plan, and limit risk.

Students must pass a closed-book 100-question exam at the end of each course. RICPs must adhere to a code of ethics and reporting requirements. Individuals with the RICP designation must also update their credentials with 15 hours of continuing education that they must complete every two years.

Special Considerations

While many financial professionals are experienced in advising and helping individuals to accumulate retirement assets, the increasing number of retirees means there is a large demand for expertise in how to manage and use those assets. But fewer advisers have expertise in subjects such as how to determine the following:

  • When a client is financially prepared to retire
  • The rate at which retirement savings should be withdrawn
  • How an individual’s asset allocation should change during retirement
  • The best age for an individual to start claiming Social Security benefits
  • How to pay for health care and nursing home care
  • Late-in-life tax planning
  • Retirement housing

The RICP program aims to fill the gap in the financial industry.