CFA® – Chartered Financial Analyst®

Prerequisites: Undergraduate degree, or combination of college and full-time work experience adding up to four years

Organization: CFA Institute

Website: cfainstitute.org 

Education requirements: Three levels (~300 hours of study to complete each level), covering over 6,000 pages of curriculum material

Exams: Three exams, 6 hours each – one exam per level, offered one time per year in June

Description: The CFA is a graduate-level program that develops and reinforces a fundamental knowledge of investment principles, such as ethical and professional standards, economics, quantitative methods, corporate finance, portfolio management, and wealth planning. The three levels of examination verify a candidate’s ability to apply these principles across all areas of the investment decision-making process. The program’s professional conduct requirements demand that both CFA candidates and charterholders adhere to the highest standards of ethical responsibility.

Difficulty: Approximately 20% of all candidates pass all three exams on the first attempt. CFA pass rates 1963-2017


CFP® - Certified Financial Planner

Prerequisites: Must hold a bachelor's degree or higher and complete coursework on financial planning.    

Organization: CFP Board

Website: cfp.net 

Exam: Pass a 6 hour, 170 question exam covering over 100 topics related to financial planning.  

Difficulty: In 2018, the pass rate was 60%

CIMA® – Certified Investment Management Analyst℠


Prerequisites: Three years of professional consulting experience and a clean regulatory/criminal record, or be able to satisfactorily justify any marks on records; also must pass an online qualification examination

Organization: Investments and Wealth Institute (formerly IMCA), offered in conjunction with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Website: imca.org   

Education requirements: Four- to six-month study program followed by a one-week, onsite course

Exams: Final certification exam

Continuing education: 40 hours every two years


CRPC® – Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor℠

Prerequisites: None

Organization: College for Financial Planning

Website: cffp.edu 

Education requirements: 12 modules, totaling 96 to 118 hours

Exams: Final certification exam

Continuing education: 16 hours every two years

Description: The CRPC program focuses on the pre- and post-retirement needs of individuals, including courses on estate planning and asset management. CRPC designees must sign a code of ethics commitment.


CDFA® – Certified Divorce Financial Analyst

Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts

The Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts is the authority on divorce planning theory and application in North America. IDFA will establish standards for certification of divorce financial analysts that are objective, reliable and meet and current benchmarks for certifying bodies. The IDFA helps to ensure the financial health and welfare of the divorcing public through the accreditation of individual as Certified Divorce Financial Analysts.  The use of the CDFA® designation does not permit Wells Fargo Advisors or its Financial Advisors to provide legal advice, nor is it meant to imply that the firm or its associates are acting as experts in this field. 


MBA – International Masters in Business Administration

University of South Carolina – Darla Moore School of Business