Financial Certifications and Professional Designations

Certified professionals trained
for your specific goals

The ability to provide financial advice and conduct sales activities in the securities and insurance industries requires registration with a regulatory body. For example, brokers must be registered with FINRA, a state securities regulator or both. Investment advisers who manage up to $100 million in assets are generally required to register with the SEC; however, an investment adviser at that threshold may elect to register with the SEC or a state regulator, and an investment adviser with assets under $100 million must generally register with their state regulator.

Conversely, professional designations are generally administered by an issuing organization (independent from Raymond James) that determines the criteria needed to earn the designation. Some designations involve fairly rigorous standards to earn and maintain the designation, allow investors to verify the status of individuals claiming to hold that designation, and a few even have a formal disciplinary process. Other designations may have lesser requirements.

If your financial advisor holds out a designation, you should discuss how it impacts the services provided to you. Your financial advisor’s decision to obtain a financial designation and to adhere to any educational requirements or standards of conduct are within your financial advisor’s sole discretion. For additional information regarding designations that your financial advisor may use, FINRA provides a Professional Designations tool on its website at

CIMA® - Certified Investment Management Analyst®

A Certified Investment Management Analyst® is a professional who understands the financial complexities and risks faced by individuals in the highest tax bracket, who is well-versed in modern concepts of investment advice, and perhaps most importantly, who is trained to understand how your individual investments are being managed and how they work together.

Earning a CIMA® designation requires three years of broad experience in investment management consulting and completion of the demanding educational program put forth by the Investments & Wealth Institute. To maintain this designation, CIMA®professionals are required to adhere to a rigorous code of professional responsibility and complete 40 hours of continuing education every two years.

Investments & Wealth Institute™ (The Institute) is the owner of the certification marks “CIMA” and “Certified Investment Management Analyst.” Use of CIMA and/or Certified Investment Management Analyst signifies that the user has successfully completed The Institute’s initial and ongoing credentialing requirements for investment management professionals.

CFP® - Certified Financial Planner

A Certified Financial Planner is a professional who has met the rigorous educational requirements – and is held to the high standards of ethics and professional responsibility – set by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, an accredited agency.

To earn the CFP® designation, a planning professional must pass the comprehensive CFP® Certification Exam, have a minimum of three years’ professional experience in financial planning and be approved by the CFP® board after an extensive ethics, character and criminal background check. Recipients must also hold a bachelor’s degree and have completed college-level coursework covering eight areas and 72 topics.

To maintain their CFP® designations, planners must complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years.

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP® , CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER and federally registered CFP (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.

CPWA® - Certified Private Wealth Advisor®

A Certified Private Wealth Advisor® has earned an advanced credential focused on the goals of highly affluent individuals and families through the stages of earning, growing, preserving and distributing wealth.

To begin the CPWA®certification process, applicants must have five years’ experience in financial services or in delivering services to wealthy clients and complete a comprehensive background check. Applicants must also have either an accredited bachelor’s degree or at least one of the following certifications or licenses: CIMA®, RMA® CFA®, CFP®, ChFC® or a Certified Public Accountant license.

To retain the designation, issued by the Investments & Wealth Institute, advisors must complete 40 hours of continuing education every two years.

Investments & Wealth Institute™ (The Institute) is the owner of the certification marks “CPWA® and “Certified Private Wealth Advisor®.” Use of CPWA® or Certified Private Wealth Advisor® signifies that the user has successfully completed IMCA’s initial and ongoing credentialing requirements for wealth advisors.

ChFC® - Chartered Financial Consultant®

A Chartered Financial Consultant® has completed comprehensive, college-level coursework in eight subject areas of financial planning and tax strategy, and is trained to provide clients with expert advice across a wide range of experiences and situations.

In addition to the coursework requirements, recipients of the ChFC® designation must have at least three years of full-time business experience or a mix of higher education achievement and experience. They must also meet the ethics standards of The American College, the designating agency. To maintain the credential, professionals must complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years.

AWMA® - Accredited Wealth Management AdvisorSM

An Accredited Wealth Management Advisor is trained to understand and respond to the needs of affluent individuals and their families on topics as diverse as generational wealth strategies, equity-based compensation, tax-reduction alternatives and asset protection.

Advisors must complete coursework covering eight topic areas and pass a final exam to receive the designation from the College for Financial Planning. To retain it, they must also complete 16 hours of continuing education every two years.