Expertise or alphabet soup: What do our credentials really mean?
With more than 1,000 different professional financial designations in the U.S., it's it's easy to get confused by the "alphabet soup" of credentials in the marketplace. Not all professional designations are alike, however. While some require rigorous initial and ongoing education, experience, an in-depth exam, and adherence to a code of ethics, other credentials are much less stringent. At AMDG Financial, we're about competence and professionalism, not marketing hype. Our advisers hold advanced degrees, as well as professional designations that symbolize their commitment to competency and high ethical standards. We invite you to learn more about the credentials of our staff, and the accreditation of our firm. You can also review our Form ADV.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
To become a Certified Public Accountant, or CPA, in the state of Michigan, candidates must be of good moral character, complete at least 150 semester hours of college education, including a baccalaureate or higher degree with concentration in accounting, pass a rigorous examination, and meet experience requirements that include one year and 2,000 hours of qualifying experience gained through government, industry, academia or public practice. The experience must be verified by another CPA. Wayne Titus and Michele Ledford are CPAs and members of the Michigan Association of CPAs.
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
The Chartered Financial Analyst, or CFA designation, is one of the most respected and recognized investment designation in the world. CFA charterholders agree to follow the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct. In addition, candidates must pass three levels of exams. Each exam requires approximately six months of preparation. Candidates must also demonstrate at least 48 months of qualified professional work experience. Rebecca Stroud is a CFA charterholder.
Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)
A Personal Financial Specialist, or PFS, is a Certified Public Accountant who meets requirements set by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) for financial planning. Those requirements include experience, education, passing an exam and meeting ethical standards. Candidates for the PFS designation must be CPAs in good standing, be members of AICPA, earn a minimum of 80 hours of personal financial planning education, pass a comprehensive personal financial planning exam, and have at least two years or 3,000 hours of full-time financial planning business experience. They must also agree to be bound by the AICPA's Code of Professional Conduct and meet continuing education requirements. Wayne Titus and Michele Ledford hold the PFS designation.
CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™
A global certification available in 26 countries and territories around the world, the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ or CFP® certification is the most desired and respected certification program for those who are committed to the practice of competent and ethical financial planning. Administered in the U.S. by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, CFP® certification requires candidates to meet initial and ongoing requirements for education, experience and ethics. In addition, each candidate must sit for a comprehensive certification exam. To maintain their certification, CFP® professionals must meet ongoing continuing professional development obligations and continue to adhere to CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct. Chris Carlson is a CFP® professional.
Accredited Investment Fiduciary AnalystTM or AIFA®The Accredited Investment Fiduciary Analyst designation is awarded to individuals qualified to perform, or assist in, assessments of an investment steward's, adviser's or manager's conformance to a fi360's Global Fiduciary Standard of Excellence. AIFA designees possess the ability and knowledge to advise clients of deficiencies in investment processes. It is also the required mark to perform a CEFEX Fiduciary Certification, the independent recognition of a fiduciary's conformity to all fiduciary Practices and Criteria. (fi360 is a provider of services that raise the level of professionalism in investment management.) Wayne Titus holds the AIFA designation.
Accredited Investment Fiduciary® or AIF®
While the AIFA®designation qualifies a person to conduct a fiduciary assessment, the Accredited Investment Fiduciary®, or AIF® qualification provides investment professionals with the fiduciary knowledge and tools they need to serve their clients’ best interests. With the AIF®designation, professionals learn how to reduce risks through the documentation of fiduciary best practices, meet legal obligations by applying Fi360’s Prudent Practices®and investment procedures, and increase efficiency and effectiveness by adopting a consistent, repeatable process. Becky Stroud, Chris Carlson and Luke Noble all hold the AIF® designation.
Certified 401(k) Professional, or C(k)P®
Offered by The Retirement Advisor University in partnership with the Anderson School of Management Executive Education program, the Certified 401(k) Professional designation identifies individuals who have the knowledge and experience to favorably affect the outcome of corporate retirement plans. To become certified, candidates must have at least 10 plans under management or advisory, $30 million of assets under management or advisory, and three years of experience in the defined contribution industry. Chris Carlson holds the C(k)P® designation.
CEFEX Fiduciary Certificate of Registration
AMDG Financial was the first advisory firm in Michigan, and one of the first 10 advisory firms in the world, to receive the prestigious Fiduciary Certificate of Registration from the Centre for Fiduciary Excellence (CEFEX). Advisory firms seeking certification must undergo a rigorous fiduciary assessment by CEFEX every 12 months. The assessment, conducted by an independent analyst, consists of a review of AMDG Financial’s written records, interviews with appropriate personnel, and a review of evidence supporting AMDG Financial’s actions in providing services to clients. CEFEX advisory firms voluntarily undertake annual audits by independent fiduciary experts. This verifies their adherence to the fiduciary standard and is supplemental to the oversight performed by most financial regulators, who require advisors to meet a minimum compliance standard. Watch this short video to learn why clients should look for the CEFEX registration: