Breaking Down the CFP® Certification vs CLU® and ChFC® Designations

Breaking Down the CFP® Certification vs CLU® and ChFC® Designations

The American College of Financial Services
November 8, 2021

What is the CLU® designation?


The financial services industry has long relied on the Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) designation as the benchmark to determine who has extensive knowledge of life insurance. The CLU® designation is issued by The American College of Financial Services. The CLU® designation is helpful when evaluating the life insurance underwriting and risk management needs of business owners and professionals, and can be an important factor in debt agreements. The CLU® designation is also instrumental in regards to life insurance law within the context of overall risk management and helping clients to address their estate planning needs. 

The CLU® designation is a five-course program that studies the practical application of risk management and the ability to manage complex financial services. The program is made up of four core courses, plus one elective. In addition, candidates must pass five 100-question, 2-hour exams (one at the end of each course). Course topics include:

  • Fundamentals of Insurance Planning

  • Individual Life Insurance

  • Life Insurance Law

  • Fundamentals of Estate Planning and Planning for Business Owners and Professionals

Other course topics include financial planning, income taxation, group benefits, investments, and retirement planning.


What does the CLU® designation mean?


A CLU® designation means a financial professional has gained an in-depth understanding of the practical, legal, and ethical aspects of life insurance underwriting and can provide the best solutions to a diverse clientele facing a range of risks and financial situations.. The CLU® designation is a significant designation for U.S. securities entities, as well as the designated business owners for securities companies and securities broker-dealers. 



What is the CLU® pledge?


The CLU® designation requires a pledge to uphold the highest ethical and professional standards of conduct established by The American College of Financial Services:

“I shall, in light of all conditions surrounding those I serve, which I shall make every conscientious effort to ascertain and understand, render that service which, in the same circumstances, I would apply to myself.”

In addition, maintaining the designation requires 30 hours of continuing education (CE) credit every two years. 


How difficult is the CLU® designation?


The CLU® designation is usually obtained after a number of years in the insurance business and passing licensing exams. The licensing exams are considered by most to be quite difficult, with thousands of people attempting them each year. The exams are lengthy, with many hours of study time required before taking them. The credential will ensure that you are recognized as a general insurance knowledge specialist.



What are a CLU® and a ChFC®?


The ChFC® is an acronym for Chartered Financial Consultant®. This certification program is offered by The American College of Financial Services to individuals who have completed an intensive program of study in the area of financial planning. The designation is earned once the financial professional has met all requirements to be recognized as an authoritative practitioner in financial counseling and planning. The designation is also available for individuals who have met specific educational and experience guidelines.

A CLU®, on the other hand, is the designation earned by financial professionals who have studied in-depth the risks involved with certain insurance annuities and policies, such as life insurance.

A CLU® or ChFC® designation indicates that an individual has completed a comprehensive program of study that has been developed and governed by The American College of Financial Services. Although these designations are available to all qualifying candidates, they are especially popular among those who work in financial services businesses.


What is the difference between ChFC® and CFP® certification?


The designation Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) reflects that an individual has completed advanced coursework in personal financial planning and passed comprehensive exams. A CFP® professional has also completed a college degree plus met specific coursework and passed comprehensive exams. 

The CFP Board of Standards sets and enforces standards for the CFP® mark in their privacy policy, and ensures that CFP® professionals are held to the highest standard of integrity, ethics, and professionalism. The CFP Board owns the CFP® mark, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, and federally registered CFP® certification.

ChFC® implies that the applicant possesses expertise in various financial planning processes, similar to the CFP® certification. ChFC® is important for advisors who offer assistance with retirement planning, estate planning, wealth management, and sell life insurance, disability income, or long-term care policies that are regulated by state insurance departments. 


For more information, contact us at The American College of Financial Services or visit our ChFC®, CLU®, or CFP® Certification Education Program pages.