From the December 2007 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

December 1, 2007

The Certification Advantage

Many different designations have been designed to aid advisors in servicing elderly clients correctly. Here are three common designations recommended by advisors.

Registered Financial Gerontologist (www.aifg.org)

Introduced in 2003, the Registered Financial Gerontologist (RFG) designation is granted by the American Institute of Financial Gerontology (AIFG), which was co-founded by Neal Cutler. According to Cutler, only professionals who are a CFP, CLU, CPA, or hold an elder law degree are allowed to participate.

The program consists of a three-day curriculum, and concludes with a two-hour multiple-choice exam on the fourth day "About 75 % pass the first time," notes Cutler. Basic tuition for the full course of study, including the examination and designation, is $1,500. AIFG is accredited by the American Society on Aging and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Certified Senior Advisor (www.society-csa.com)

The Society of Certified Senior Advisors (SCSA), founded in 1996, confers the Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) designation, which more than 25,000 have received over the last ten years. Participants can do a self-study course (costing $1,195), or go to a three-day lecture (costing $1,395), and take the test on the last day, which Dan Danbom, director of communication for the SCSA, says about 78% of students pass. CSA designes must also complete up to18 hours of continuing education credit every three years.

New eligibility standards beginning January 1, 2008, include a background check and signing the CSA Code of Professional Responsibility. Candidates must also meet one of the new education or experience requirements developed as part of SCSA's ongoing effort to apply to the National Commission for Certifying Agencies for accreditation of the CSA designation.

Chartered Advisor for Senior Living (www.theamericancollege.edu)

The Chartered Advisor for Senior Living (CASL) Retirement Coach Program began in 2004, and about 2,000 currently hold the CASL designation, according to David Littell, professor for the CASL program at the American College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. The designation is earned after completing a five-course curriculum using textbooks and online resources, with three courses specific to working with the senior market: social gerontology, financial decision-making in retirement, and healthcare. The other two courses are an estate planning class and a basic investment course.

Requirements include passing the test given at the end of each of the five courses, an experience requirement, and an ethics requirement. There is also a continuing education requirement of 15 hours every two years.

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