AWMA Designation

Written by: Nik Ventouris

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AWMA Designation

The accredited wealth management advisor (AWMA) designation is a prestigious credential often used in the financial industry to measure a professional’s competence and integrity in the realm of wealth management — especially for serving high-net-worth clients.

This comprehensive guide will cover what an AWMA designation entails, including an overview of the curriculum, the examination process, and the career paths it unlocks. It’ll also help you determine if the AWMA program is the right fit for your professional aspirations based on your interests, career goals, and the industry’s demands.

Understanding the AWMA Designation

The AWMA designation qualifies financial professionals to provide wealth management services, such as portfolio creation and personal financial planning, to clients — particularly high-net-worth individuals or families.

It’s an excellent way for wealth managers who desire financial planning credentials to gain credibility within the industry because experienced professionals crafted this designation as an exhaustive approach to learning about wealth management.

By combining academic insights with real-world application, this qualification ensures those who obtain it can expertly handle the challenges of wealth management for high-net-worth clients. As such, it’s a highly esteemed qualification by many financial firms.

Moreover, clients often prefer AWMA professionals because an official institution — the College for Financial Planning (CFFP) — regulates them. This additional, official oversight grants clients an even greater level of security and peace of mind.

Recommended Study Materials

Interested in commencing your AWMA studies? We recommend Kaplan’s in-depth study materials.

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A Closer Look at the Curriculum

Some of the core topics covered in the AWMA designation’s curriculum include:

  • Advanced Investment Planning: The AWMA curriculum includes strategies that deal with the complexity of investments — especially in relation to optimizing risk and return. It provides insights into how advisors may use various investment vehicles to achieve a high-net-worth client’s objectives
  • Tax Planning for High-Net-Worth Individuals: This topic delves into the nuances of taxation, offering comprehensive financial services to minimize tax liabilities and maximize returns for affluent clients
  • Fiduciary and Regulatory Issues: Given the significant assets involved, it’s crucial for advisors to understand the regulatory landscape. This section ensures these financial services professionals keep pace with the latest fiduciary requirements and can navigate the complexities of regulatory compliance
  • Exit and Succession Planning: Tailored for business owners and entrepreneurs, this section delves into strategies for ensuring a smooth transition of business assets to support continuity and wealth preservation
  • Considerations for Business Owners: The AWMA curriculum also provides in-depth strategies for managing the financial complexities faced by business owners — from optimizing cash flow to planning for business growth

Overall, the AWMA designation demonstrates an advisor’s dedication to rigorous training and commitment to serving high-net-worth clients with the highest standards of wealth management expertise.

How to Become an AWMA

To attain the AWMA designation, candidates must successfully complete a rigorous educational program, pass an exam, and commit to continuous learning.

There are no educational or experience prerequisites that candidates must satisfy in order to be eligible to take the AWMA. However, there are certain requirements you must meet to be able to use and maintain this qualification — which have been explored below.

Examination Requirements

The culmination of the AWMA educational program is a rigorous exam designed to assess a candidate’s proficiency in wealth management strategies, regulatory considerations, tax reduction alternatives, and executive benefits planning. This exam includes 80 questions, which candidates must answer within two hours. To pass, candidates must obtain a score of at least 70%.

Ethical Conduct Requirements

All AWMA candidates and designees must agree to abide by a code of ethics in order to obtain their designation. This guarantees AWMA designees maintain the highest degree of professionalism and ethical behavior during the performance of their duties.

Post-Qualification Requirements

After successfully navigating the educational and examination phases, candidates must meet some additional requirements in order to use and maintain their AWMA designation. These include:

  • Authorization to Use AWMA Markings: AWMA graduates must not immediately start using their designation. It’s essential that they apply for and await authorization before using AWMA markings on their business cards, in advertisements for their services, or on their websites
  • Continuing Education (CE): The evolving financial landscape necessitates continuous learning. AWMA designees must renew this credential every two years, which includes completing 16 hours of CE credits and abiding by the ethical guidelines, if they want to continue to use this designation

Ultimately, the AWMA designation ensures the creation of ethically sound professionals grounded in the theoretical aspects of wealth management and dedicated to ongoing professional development.

Despite this credential’s stringent requirements, you can boost your chances of success by leveraging the right educational resources. Online courses are a great way to do this because they offer a flexible and targeted approach tailored to all candidates.

Ready to get started? StateRequirement recommends having a look at Kaplan’s study materials and resources.

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan Financial

Is the AWMA Designation Right for You?

Determining if the AWMA designation is the right fit will depend on several factors, including your professional aspirations, current role, and the level of commitment you’re willing to invest. If you want to specialize in managing the wealth of high-net-worth individuals, the AWMA designation can prove pivotal to your career. 

Professionals already immersed in the finance, banking, or broader wealth management domain can leverage the AWMA designation to distinguish themselves and advance their careers. The specialized training provided by the AWMA curriculum can give you an edge in this increasingly competitive segment of the financial industry.

If you’re more focused on other financial domains like retail banking or corporate finance, however, the AWMA designation might not offer the exact specialization you need. Similarly, the AWMA credential may not prove as valuable if you operate in regions where wealth management for affluent individuals in particular isn’t a big sector or you already possess designations with overlapping course content.

Ultimately, when deciding if this designation is right for you, it’s crucial to consider your professional interests and goals as well as what’s realistic given your current qualifications and location.

Ready to get started? StateRequirement recommends having a look at Kaplan’s study materials and resources.

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan Financial

AWMA Designation FAQ

What is an AWMA designation?

A credential administered by the College for Financial Planning (CFFP), the accredited wealth management advisor (AWMA) designation signifies expertise in managing the financial complexities of high-net-worth individuals. It demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of wealth management techniques, including estate planning, tax strategies, and behavioral finance.

How do I get an AWMA designation?

To earn the AWMA designation, you must enroll in the designated AWMA program from the CFFP. You’ll then need to complete this program’s eight modules, pass a rigorous final exam, and adhere to a strict code of ethics. Successful candidates can then apply to use the AWMA designation professionally.

How long do you need to study for the AWMA?

The time required to study for the AWMA exam varies. However, once registered for the AWMA program, candidates must complete the program’s eight modules and take the final exam within 120 days. While some candidates may finish more quickly, most allocate several months for thorough preparation as they balance their studies with other professional and personal commitments.

What is the difference between an AAMS and an AWMA?

An accredited asset management specialist (AAMS) emphasizes asset management and client-advisor relations while an accredited wealth management advisor (AWMA) delves deeper, specializing in wealth management for high-net-worth clients. See our How to Become a Wealth Manager article to learn about the different types of specializations for financial advisors.

Is the AWMS designation worth it?

For a financial advisor aiming to specialize in serving high-net-worth clients, the AWMA professional designation can prove beneficial. It helps to distinguish them as experts in advanced wealth management techniques. This credential also can enhance their marketability, assure clients of their proficiency, and equip them with the latest wealth strategies for managing affluent clients’ assets.

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