ChFC Designation

Written by: Mary Gerardine

Last updated:

Ready to take your financial planning career to the next level? Earning a ChFC Designation could be your golden ticket.

This prestigious credential not only amplifies your expertise but also sets you apart in a competitive field.

Stick around as we guide you through the what, why, and how of obtaining this highly sought-after designation.

What is a ChFC Designation

Introduced by The American College of Financial Services, the ChFC designation equips professionals with in-depth knowledge in the areas of financial planning, insurance, retirement planning, and estate planning.

Here are few ways this designation can benefit you and your career:

  • Broad-Based Knowledge: The ChFC curriculum covers a wide array of financial planning topics, equipping you to advise clients on a multitude of financial issues from estate planning to insurance
  • Specialization: Unlike some other professional designations that offer a generalist approach, the ChFC program includes elective courses that allow you to specialize in specific areas of financial planning
  • Credibility: Respected within the financial industry, the ChFC designation alerts clients and employers to your commitment to a high standard of expertise and ethical conduct
  • Career Advancement: Holding a recognized financial credential like the ChFC designation can make you more marketable to potential employers and clients, giving you a competitive edge in the industry

All in all, acquiring the ChFC credential can make you stand out among other financial professionals and open doors to specialized financial advising roles, enhancing both your marketability and expertise.

Recommended Course

Interested in starting your ChFC studies? We recommend having a look at the American College of Financial Services’s website.

4.5 out of 5 starsThe American College

How to Become a ChFC

Becoming a ChFC involves taking a series of steps aimed at demonstrating your proficiency and expertise in financial planning and consulting.

Below, we’ve provided a general roadmap for this process.

Educational and Experience Requirements

This designation requires both a combination of formal education and real-world work experience. For example, you will need to:

  • Have a high school diploma or the equivalent and at least three years of full-time, relevant work experience in a related field; keep in mind that an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution counts toward one year of business experience
  • Enroll in a ChFC program offered by The American College of Financial Services or another recognized institution
  • Complete eight online, self-study courses. These courses cover a range of topics from estate planning to retirement solutions. You must then pass a comprehensive exam at the end of each course

Exam Requirements

Each course within the ChFC program has a 100 question, multiple-choice exam you will need to take and pass (a score of 70% or higher is required).

The testing format is a closed-book, proctored final exam.

Here are some tips that can use in order to ensure that you adequately prepare for each ChFC exam:

  • Understand the curriculum. Review the syllabus for each course so you have a clear understanding of the topics it’ll cover
  • Create a study schedule. Allocate specific times for study and stick to your schedule. Break down your study materials into smaller sections for more focused learning. Textbooks, online lectures, and flashcards can all aid your understanding.
  • Take mock exams. Use practice tests to familiarize yourself with the exam format and the types of questions you’ll encounter. Review any topics where you score poorly in your practice tests

Note: Effective preparation is key in ensuring that you pass your exam(s) on your first attempt, which can save you both time and money.

Ready to get started? StateRequirement recommends The American College of Financial Services’ ChFC program.

4.5 out of 5 starsThe American College

Ethical Requirements

You’ll need to agree to — and comply with — the ethical standards and Code of Ethics outlined by The American College of Financial Services.

Adhering to ethical guidelines as a ChFC will help to foster trust with your clients and boost your credibility with regulators. It also ensures you provide informed, responsible financial planning advice and comply with legal standards, thereby minimizing risks and enhancing your professional reputation.

Failure to adhere to these ethical standards could result in the loss of your ChFC designation.

Continuing Education Requirements

After you have obtained your ChFC designation, you will need to participate in The American College of Financial Services’ annual Professional Recertification Program (PRP) in order to maintain your license.

This includes the following steps:

  • Recertify your knowledge with 30 hours of continuing education (CE) credits every two years
  • Recommit to its Code of Ethics
  • Reconfirm your client-facing status and update your contact information every year
  • Pay an annual recertification fee ($140 for client-facing advisors or $55 for non-client-facing professionals) via its Student Portal

Maintaining your ChFC designation ensures you keep up with the latest practices and regulations within the financial industry.

Is the ChFC Designation Right for You?

Determining if the ChFC designation is right for you will depend on various factors related to your career goals, preferred learning style, and where you want to work.

Here are some factors to consider:

  • Career Objectives: If you aim to offer comprehensive financial planning services, including specialized advice in areas like estate or retirement income planning, a ChFC designation may prove beneficial. The ChFC program also allows for more specialized study so this credential could give you an advantage if you want to focus on a particular personal financial planning process
  • Comparison With Other Designations: Consider how the ChFC designation stacks up against other financial planning credentials like the certified financial planner (CFP) designation. Each has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, depending on what you’re looking to achieve
  • Learning Style: If you prefer course-by-course exams rather than a single, comprehensive final exam (like the CFP exam), the ChFC’s modular structure might suit you better. The ChFC designation also can offer a good option for financial advisors who work full-time and need a program that allows for a more flexible study schedule
  • Relevance to Current Role: If your current job involves providing comprehensive financial planning advice as a financial advisor — covering areas like estate planning, retirement planning, or insurance planning — then a ChFC designation can deepen your knowledge and expertise
  • Job Market and Industry Trends: In some financial regulatory roles, this credential may offer certain advantages because the ChFC designation may prepare you to better comply with industry regulations. Some companies encourage or even sponsor employees to obtain such designations and may offer successful designees promotions or salary increases

Taking the time to assess these factors — perhaps in consultation with mentors or career advisors — can help you decide if the ChFC designation aligns with your personal and professional goals.

Ready to get started? StateRequirement recommends The American College of Financial Services’ ChFC program.

4.5 out of 5 starsThe American College

ChFC Designation FAQ

What is the meaning of the ChFC designation?

The ChFC designation is a credential awarded by The American College of Financial Services to financial professionals who complete a financial planning education program that covers various topics related to financial services. These topics include risk management, income tax strategies, retirement planning, investments, estate planning, behavioral finance, and more.

Is obtaining the ChFC designation difficult?

You may find the ChFC designation difficult or easy to obtain, depending on your personal situation and goals. Regardless of the difficulty level, pursuing the ChFC designation can be a rewarding and beneficial way to enhance your financial planning skills and knowledge as well as differentiate yourself from other financial professionals in the market.

How do I become a chartered financial consultant?

To become a ChFC, you must complete eight courses through The American College of Financial Services, pass the exams for each course, and meet certain experience requirements. Chartered financial consultants also must complete 30 hours of CE credits every two years and adhere to a code of ethics in order to maintain their designation.

What is the difference between a CFP and a ChFC designation?

The CFP and ChFC designations are both valuable credentials that demonstrate knowledge and expertise in financial planning. However, they differ in their educational requirements, exam formats, and focus areas. Depending on your personal situation and career goals, you may choose to pursue one or both of these professional designations. Learn more in our ChFC vs. CFP article.

How much can you earn with a ChFC designation?

The amount of money you can earn with a ChFC designation may vary, depending on your experience, location, employer, and type of role. According to the latest data, the average salary for a ChFC is $30,000 per year. Go to our ChFC Salary article to learn more about ChFC salaries.

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