American College Launches Comprehensive Planning Designation

New certification replaces sales designation

The American College announced Wednesday that it is launching a new designation for financial professionals, the Financial Services Certified Professional (FSCP). The new designation will replace the Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF) designation, which focused on insurance sales.

The new designation will focus on comprehensive planning instead of selling products, although The American College noted it does retain some sales advice. It enhances the LUTCF designation with more detailed content on topics like social media, health care and divorce planning.

“Financial services professionals need to master more skills and knowledge than ever before,” Dr. Larry Barton, president and CEO of The American College, said in a statement.  “We’ve designed FSCP to appeal to independent advisors, wealth managers, insurance specialists, registered reps and other financial professionals who want to be better at what they do.”

Barton added that advisors who complete American College designations can increase their productivity by as much as 72%.

Advisors can begin working toward the FSCP designation in 2014. To obtain it, advisors must complete 10 elective educational units, an eight-week live webinar course and pass a supervised exam in a testing center. To maintain the designation, advisors must meet ethics-related CE requirements every two years.

Advisors can take courses in classrooms, live and asynchronous online classes, and in self-paced modules, according to The American College.

“By moving from a moderator-led format to one that emphasizes online learning, students can study at their own pace but also immerse themselves in case studies, video scenarios and discussion options regarding what is most suitable for a client, rather than what is ‘the best sale,’” Barton said.

“The CFP designation is designed to provide deep technological knowledge for experienced advisors, but the FSCP designation is primarily for newer advisors,” Jack Hondros, chief marketing officer for The American College, told ThinkAdvisor on Thursday. “It offers good knowledge and strong selling skills, but for a broader array of advisors.”

Advisors who already hold the LUTCF designation can complete the practical portion of the course to obtain the new designation instead of completing the entire course, but Hondros noted that they would “have to relinquish the old designation. The underlying knowledge is the same and we don’t want to mislead the public with a lot of designations.”

Update: Article has been revised to include comments from Jack Hondros.

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