American College Unveils

Senior Advisor Designation

The American College has unveiled a new educational designation to help financial advisors better serve seniors and baby boomers planning for retirement. Dubbed Chartered Advisor for Senior Living (CASL), the designation entails approximately 120 hours of study in varied disciplines.

“Insurance and financial services companies are finding enormous gaps in terms of the quality of advice that seniors and boomers are receiving,” says Larry Barton, president and CEO of The American College, Bryn Mawr, Pa. “They want a rigorous course of study from an accredited college, as opposed to a couple of days in a hotel that awards attendees with a designation. This initiative fills a void.”

The CASL program encompasses 5 courses: Investments; Fundamentals of Estate Planning; Understanding the Older Client; Health and Long-Term Care Financing; and Financial Decisions for Retirement.

In addition to financial considerations, students will learn best practices and strategies to assist seniors with lifestyle issues. These range from work and retirement to family relationships to psychological perspectives on aging and retirement.

The courses are available through distance learning. The American College offers students printed textbooks, plus audio cassette review tapes, videotapes and DVDs. Starting in June, the coursework will also be accessible online. Participants take exams at testing centers nationwide.

In-classroom instruction at the colleges Bryn Mawr campus also is available. But Barton says that 93% of the institutions 38,000 students opt for distance learning. Of the total, approximately 90% of students are U.S.-based; the rest are mainly from Singapore, Malaysia, India and China.

A key target market for the initiative is the institutions 150,000 degree holders: Chartered Life Underwriters (CLUs), Chartered Financial Consultants (ChFCs), Registered Health Underwriters (RHUs), Certified Financial Planners (CFPs), plus individuals holding the colleges Master of Science in Financial Services (MSFS).

Students holding the CLU, ChFC or CFP designations will automatically receive credit for 2 of the 5 courses. In addition to passing the 5 exams, graduates must take an ethics pledge. The college, says Barton, “reserves the right to strip students of the CASL degree if we find any improprieties.”

Barton estimates the full curriculum, on average, will entail “one year of study.” Refreshers courses for alumni will be required biannually.

In the first 2 weeks following its launch on April 1, approximately 100 students signed up for the program, says Barton.

The American College created the curriculum with an advisory committee of industry professionals. Eleven companies participated in the programs development, including Bankers Life and Casualty, GE Financial Assurance, John Hancock, MassMutual, MetLife, Mutual of Omaha, New York Life, Northwestern Mutual, Physicians Mutual, Prudential Financial and State Farm.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, April 16, 2004. Copyright 2004 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.