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Recertification FAQ

Professional Recertification Program

Frequently asked questions about the Professional Recertification Program. 


Q: Why is The American College of Financial Services updating its recertification requirements?

A: Since our founding in 1927, The American College of Financial Services has been committed to serving the public through increasing the knowledge and professionalism of financial advisors. As a nonprofit, accredited institution, we take that obligation seriously, particularly considering the complexity of the marketplace and related regulations. Advisor credibility with the public has never been more important. Consumers deserve to know that those carrying the designations of The College as a representation of their expertise have current knowledge and are subject to ethical oversight. 

Over time, changes to the Professional Achievement in Continuing Education, or PACE, program have created different recertification requirements for our designees. We aim to have all of our designees meet an appropriate standard of ethics and professional knowledge. As a result, we are updating our approach to building professionalism by creating the Professional Recertification Program to cover both client-facing and non-client-facing financial services professionals. At the same time, we are including increased check-ins with The College for those professionals who carry our designations and are providing robust educational resources for all designees to help keep their knowledge current.

We firmly believe that financial services is a profession – not an “industry.” Designees need to conduct themselves as professionals and adhere to the tenets of ethical practices and oversight, ongoing knowledge and working together to build the credibility of the profession for the benefit of the public we all serve.
 

Q: When do the changes to the recertification program become effective?

A: The Professional Recertification Program, building on the PACE program, will be phased in between now and 2019, giving designation holders who were subject to PACE adequate time to comply based on their former status. Since the PACE program launched three decades ago, each designation holder joined PACE over time under evolving requirements. We are mindful to take sufficient time to help all participants transition into the more unified program. Those who have the least amount of change under the Professional Recertification Program as compared to PACE need to comply sooner, in alignment with the next two-year cycle covering 2017 and 2018. Some will have longer to comply and will be fully phased in by the 2019-2020 cycle. Individual communications are being sent to designees to explain their personal situation.
 

Q: I’ve heard that some designees have different requirements than others under the Professional Recertification Program.  Is that true, and if so, why is that?

A: Professional Recertification Program participation requirements are based on a combination of the date when designees earned their first designation and their status under the PACE program (e.g. Emeritus status). Generally, if an individual earned their credential prior to 1989 they are not required to participate in the Professional Recertification Program.  

PACE Program Participants
Any designee who was formerly subject to the PACE program (except for those who currently hold Emeritus status) and who holds any of the following designation marks: CLU®, ChFC®, WMCP, RICP®, CLF®, CASL®, CAP®, ChSNC®, or FSCP®,  is required to participate in the Professional Recertification Program.

After the program is fully phased in by the end of 2018, all designation holders who fall into this category will check in with The American College of Financial Services annually, share information about their practices, reaffirm their commitment to The College’s Code of Ethics and their client-facing status, and pay a fee. These designation holders will complete continuing education every two years, with differing requirements for client-facing and non-client-facing designees.

Pre-1989 and Emeritus Status
Designees who matriculated with The College for their first credential prior to the implementation of the PACE program in June 1989 or who are currently in Emeritus status, are not required to participate in the Professional Recertification Program. However these individuals are strongly encouraged to participate once the program is fully phased in. Those who choose to do participate in the Professional Recertification Program will have the same requirements options and obligations as every other designee in the program. Those designees who earned their credentials prior to implementation of the PACE program or who currently hold Emeritus status will also be required, whether opting into the Professional Recertification Program or not, to complete the annual check-in process with The College. Since all designees – regardless of the time a designation was earned – have always been and will continue to be subject to The College’s oversight for ethical practices. The annual check-in process is, therefore, required for all designees beginning in 2019.

Q: What are the benefits associated with the Professional Recertification Program?

A: Participants in the Professional Recertification Program will be provided with a variety of benefits including access to all of the most current educational material from designation programs the student has completed, provided conveniently online and with mobile-ready access. Designees will also have access to a wealth of high-impact content from the faculty of The American College of Financial Services and from third parties. All Professional Recertification Program content may be accessed online through your College account.
 

Q: FSCP® was not formally part of the PACE program before. Why has this designation program been included in the Professional Recertification Program?

A: As financial services professionals, individuals who hold the FSCP® mark should be held to the same standards as other College designees. While not a formal part of the PACE program, FSCP® has always had designee recertification requirements. Those requirements included obtaining continuing education in ethics to maintain use of the designation. FSCP® is included in the Professional Recertification Program to make compliance easier and more streamlined for designees who have multiple credentials from The College.

Q: Is participation in the Professional Recertification Program required to maintain my designation with The American College of Financial Services?

A: Yes. The program is required for all designees who matriculated with The College and earned their credentials after the introduction of the PACE program in June 1989 except for those currently in Emeritus status. For those who earned their designation(s) earlier or who currently hold Emeritus status, participation is strongly encouraged for the good of the public and the profession.
 

Q: What happens if I do not comply with requirements of The American College of Financial Services?

A: As the program is phased in between now and 2019, additional details will be provided to all designees on compliance and enforcement procedures. The College believes individuals who use our designations to represent their expertise to consumers have an obligation to the public to practice ethically and engage in ongoing professional education. Status under the Professional Recertification Program will be made available to the public on the Designation Check website, which will continue to serve as an index of a designee’s status with The College. As has always been the case, designation marks can be removed for ethical issues or failure to comply with other recertification requirements of The College.
 

Q: I do not have to “recertify” my college degree or agree to ethical oversight from my undergraduate college or university, or pay a fee, or report ongoing education to the institution where I earned my degree. How are designations different?

A: An academic degree (such as a PhD or master’s degree) is a title signifying that the recipient has completed a course of study. By contrast, a designation signifies that the designee is certified to meet The College’s standards for providing financial services in a particular field. Every designee of The American College of Financial Services has agreed to abide by a Code of Ethics that requires, among other responsibilities, the maintenance of a high level of professional competence by continuing studies throughout the designee’s career. Since 1989, The College has administered a formal program called PACE, and over time, its requirements have evolved to reflect the changing demands of the financial services profession. The Professional Recertification Program provides additional educational resources for designees and facilitates compliance with The College’s standards.

Q: Does everyone need to pay a fee now as part of the Professional Recertification Program, even if they did not have to pay a fee under the PACE program?

A: Once the Professional Recertification Program is fully phased in, every participating designee will pay an annual fee as part of the program. All designees who matriculated with The College and received their designations after the introduction of the PACE program in June 1989, or who do not currently hold Emeritus status will be required to participate. Those who hold Emeritus status or those who earned their designation(s) before the introduction of the PACE program will be strongly encouraged to participate.
 

Q: How much is the recertification fee?

A: The annual fee for the Professional Recertification Program will be $125 (client facing) or $50 (non-client facing). The annual recertification fee will cover all designations earned from The American College of Financial Services. The fees for the Professional Recertification Program are comparable with fees charged by other credentialing programs.  As a nonprofit institution, we need to be able to fund both the increased educational resources provided to designees and the enhanced designee oversight and reporting we will now be doing on behalf of the public and the profession.
 

Q: When is the recertification fee due?

A: The recertification fee is paid in advance during the last quarter of the recertification year, by December 31. Annual recertification fees cover a designee’s recertification commitment for the following calendar year.

For example, the 2017 annual recertification fee will be due by Dec. 31, 2016; the 2018 annual recertification fee will be due by Dec. 31, 2017, and so on. A late fee will be assessed for fees paid after December 31.
 

Q: How do I pay my annual recertification fee?

A: Paying your fee, reaffirming your commitment to ethical practice, and updating your contact information can all be done through your online account with The College.
 

Q: How will The American College of Financial Services use the recertification fees?         

A: Recertification fees will be used to support expanded oversight of individuals who use The College’s designation marks, as well as to develop and support the continuing education materials that designation holders will have access to as part of the Professional Recertification Program.
 

Q: Are recertification fees considered charitable donations to The College?

A: No. Like tuition and other College fees, recertification fees are not considered charitable donations. As a nonprofit 501(c)(3) educational institution, however, we rely on the generosity of our donors and will continue to do so.  We encourage additional gifts to support The College. The generous charitable donations from our alumni and other donors are used to advance the mission of The College and support our academic programs, faculty research and scholarship programs.

Q: How is my status of client facing or non-client facing determined?

A: An individual can be client facing based on the licenses, degrees, or certifications that individual holds, and/or how that person is compensated. A client-facing individual is defined as someone who holds a Resident or Non-resident State Life & Health License, and/or his/her Investment Company & Variable Products (Series 6), General Securities Representative (Series 7), Municipal Securities Representative (Series 52), Mutual Funds (Series 63), Uniform Investment Adviser Law (Series 65) or Uniform Combined State Law (Series 66) registrations from FINRA, and/or is a JD, CPA or CFA®.

Additionally, client-facing individuals collect compensation (commissions, fees or concessions) from their current work with clients and/or are managing/supervising individuals who are compensated from work with clients regarding the sale, recommendation, or advice on insurance or investment products.
 

Q: Why is there a distinction between client facing and non-client facing?

A: Two levels of requirements are appropriate because client-facing individuals are using The College’s designations as a representation of their expertise when offering financial services to the public. They have a different role than non-client facing individuals and, therefore, are subject to different requirements for continuing education and oversight.
 

Q: Why are the “Emeritus” and “Exempt” categories under PACE going away?

A: The PACE program had grown increasingly complex over time based on the number of categories and designees who held special status, making compliance more difficult. The streamlined, enhanced Professional Recertification Program is more closely aligned with continuing education, ethical practice and providing a strong set of resources to encourage ongoing education. Those who would formerly have been “Emeritus” or “Exempt” will either be working with clients or not, so the two categories in the program will apply to all participants: client facing and non-client facing professionals. Those currently in “Emeritus” status will have the option to participate in the program going forward; those who are “Exempt” now will be required to participate. Both categories will need to complete annual check-ins with The College once the program is fully phased in by 2019.
 

Q: Is there a status for retired professionals?

A: Retired individuals who wish to continue using their designations will be classified as non-client facing

Q: What is the continuing education (CE) requirement?

A: Designation holders who are considered client facing are required to complete 30 credit hours of CE every two years, including one (1) hour of ethics CE. Designation holders who are considered non-client-facing are required to report one (1) hour of ethics CE every two years. Client-facing designees who were previously required to submit 15 credit hours will now be required to submit 30 credit hours every two years.
 

Q: How are CE credit hours reported?

A: CE credits earned through coursework at The American College of Financial Services will be recorded automatically. CE credits taken outside of The College are self-reported. Designees can record and track all CE credits online through their College account.
 

Q: How will my CE requirements be affected if my client-facing status changes in the middle of a reporting cycle?

A: Should the client-facing status of a designee change mid-cycle, his/her CE requirements are still based on his/her status at the beginning of the current two-year cycle and will change at the beginning of the next cycle. The annual recertification fee will change to reflect current client-facing status at the next annual payment due date. 

Q: Does the Professional Recertification Program offer an ethics course?

A: Yes. With the updated program, The American College of Financial Services will offer an ethics course at no additional fee to participants. This course will satisfy the ethics CE requirement for the Professional Recertification Program. The ethics credit may also be satisfied by taking approved courses from other providers.
 

Q: Will the ethics course included in the Professional Recertification Program also fulfill my state insurance ethics requirements?

A: The ethics course offered through the Professional Recertification Program has been filed with the appropriate state offices. Pending final approval, the course should meet state ethics CE requirements in all states except New York, Texas, and Wisconsin.

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