Here are the various designations of financial advisers and their requirements:
Accredited Asset Management Specialist (AAMS) 800-237-9990: Awarded by the College for Financial Planning to investment professionals who complete its 12-module AAMS Professional Education Program, pass an exam, commit to a code of ethics and agree to pursue continuing education.
Accredited Estate Planner (AEP) 610-526-1389: Awarded by the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils to estate planning practitioners who pass a comprehensive exam grounded in trust banking, insurance, accounting and law, and meet continuing-education requirements.
Accredited Tax Advisor (ATA) 703-549-2228: Awarded by the Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation to individuals who complete six educational courses and pass corresponding exams, fulfill experience, ethics and continuing-education requirements and pay an annual registration fee.
Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS): Awarded by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans to individuals who complete the 10-course CEBS study program, pass exams in topics including employee benefits, compensation administration, pension plans, human resource management and accounting and finance, and agree to abide by CEBS principles of conduct.
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) 800-247-8132: Awarded by the Association for Investment Management and Research to experienced financial analysts who complete a CFA study course and pass three annual examinations covering economics, financial accounting, portfolio management, securities analysis and ethics.
Certified Financial Planner (CFP) 303-830-7500: Awarded by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards to individuals with a bachelor's degree who have completed a financial planning curriculum at a U.S. accredited college, take a 10-hour, two-day exam covering more than 100 financial planning topics, have three years of financial planning experience, adhere to a code of ethics and complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years.
Certified Fund Specialist (CFS) 800-848-2029: Offered by the Institute of Business and Finance to financial services professionals who complete its 60-hour course, pass a comprehensive exam, adhere to the IBF's code of ethics and complete 15 hours of continuing-education courses each year.
Certified Investment Management Consultant (CIMC) 800-449-IIMC: Awarded by the Institute for Investment Management Consultants to financial consultants who meet its ethical, experience and continuing-education requirements and who pass two levels of NASD-administered exams based on the IIMC's self-study course in investment theory and management elements of investment management consulting.
Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC): Awarded by the American College to individuals who complete a 10-course financial planning curriculum, pass a two-hour exam for each of the 10 courses, and have three years of business experience, adhere to the college's code of ethics and complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years.
Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) 610-526-1450: Awarded by the American College to insurance and financial services professionals who have met the college's three-year business experience requirement, passed its 10 college-level education courses and agree to abide by its code of ethics.
Certified Management Accountant (CMA) 800-638-4427: Awarded by the Institute of Certified Management Accountants to management accountants who pass a four-part exam within three years, meet certain work requirements, comply with the institute's ethical standards and are members of the Institute of Management Accountants.
Chartered Mutual Fund Counselor (CMFC): Awarded by the College for Financial Planning to investment practitioners who complete its nine-module CMFC Professional Education Program jointly sponsored by the college and the Investment Company Institute, pass an exam, commit to a code of ethics and agree to pursue continuing education.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA): Awarded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants to accountants who pass the institute's Uniform CPA Exam and satisfy work experience and statutory and licensing requirements of the states in which they practice.
Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU): Awarded by the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters to individuals who have studied prescribed insurance-based courses, passed a series of 10 national exams, met experience requirements and agreed to abide by a code of ethics.
Certified Trust and Financial Adviser (CTFA): Awarded by the Institute of Certified Bankers to individuals who meet personal trust experience and education requirements, pass an exam on tax law, investments, personal finance, fiduciary responsibilities and trust activities, and agree to meet continuing-education requirements.
Enrolled Agent (EA) 202-694-1851: Offered by the Internal Revenue Service to individuals who represent taxpayers before the IRS at all levels of examination, appeal and collection. An EA must pass the IRS' two-day Special Enrollment Examination on all aspects of tax law or have five years' qualifying employment with the IRS and have his or her application approved by the IRS.
Personal Financial Specialist (PFS): Awarded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants to those who meet CPA education requirements, pass a six-hour exam covering six financial planning topics, have performed 250 hours of financial planning in each of the previous three years, have references from three clients and three professionals, adhere to the code of professional conduct and take 72 hours of continuing education every three years.
Registered Employee Benefits Consultant (REBC) 610-526-1450: Awarded by the American College to professionals who sell and service employee benefits plans and who have completed the college's five-course curriculum.
Registered Health Underwriter (RHU) 610-526-1450: Awarded by the American College to individuals who sell or service disability income and health insurance, and who have completed the college's three-course curriculum.
Registered Financial Consultant (RFC) 800-532-9060: Awarded by the International Association of Registered Financial Consultants to members who have met its education, experience and membership requirements, agreed to abide by a code of ethics and earned either a securities/insurance license or one of the following degrees or designations: CPA, CFA, CFP, CLU, ChFC, JD, EA or RHU.
SOURCE: Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards