What Is the Accredited Wealth Management AdvisorSM (AWMA® ) Designation?

By: Kaplan Financial Education
February 3, 2020
What is AWMA - conceptual image

Accredited Wealth Management AdvisorSM (AWMA®) is a designation for experienced advisors who want to address the unique needs of high-net-worth clients. It is offered by the College for Financial Planning®—a Kaplan company (CFFP). This article explains what the designation is, why it’s valuable, how it can help you in your career, and how to get it.

What Is the AWMA® Designation?

The AWMA® designation program for financial professionals provides them with what they need to help clients capitalize on opportunities to preserve, grow, and transfer their wealth. The program contains sections dedicated to behavioral finance, working with small business owners, and succession and exit planning. There is also an entire module specifically dedicated to the fiduciary and regulatory issues that advisors will encounter. The program was started in 2005 and is offered exclusively online by CFFP. The certification is also listed by FINRA, which is a private, self-regulatory organization that regulates certain aspects of the securities industry.

Why the AWMA® Program Is Valuable

With all of the complex financial planning information available today, the AWMA® program prepares you to provide knowledgeable advice on the best assets and strategies for your clients. As an AWMA® student, you receive graduate-level education that focuses on wealth management. Study materials are written and updated regularly by full-time CFFP faculty who specialize in investments, insurance, taxation, retirement planning, and estate planning. They also work closely with investment professionals to provide the most current information available.

When asked about the value of the program, one certified AWMA® professional said: “Because of my AWMA® designation, I am now working with higher-net-worth clients, which allows me to work with fewer individuals while substantially increasing my income. Because my clients feel that I offer more individual attention and a top-notch level of service, I’ve received an increase in quality referrals."

Earning the AWMA® mark has other benefits as well. You receive credit for course FP513, Investment Planning, in the CFFP CFP® certification education program. You also receive credit for an elective in the CFFP MS Degree in Personal Financial Planning. This allows you to save both time and money while pursuing multiple credentials.

How the AWMA® Designation Can Help Your Career

The AWMA® designation is recognized as the industry benchmark for wealth management credentials and is endorsed by leading financial firms. It is an indication that you can effectively identify, analyze, and recommend strategies that are appropriate for the diverse needs of your high-net-worth clients. In addition, financial advisors with the AWMA® report an average earnings increase of 16 percent, as well as client-base growth and greater job satisfaction.

From the point of view of your high-net-worth clients, the AWMA® mark indicates that you have the knowledge and education to guide them to the right investments for their wealth management goals.

How to Earn the AWMA®

To earn the AWMA® designation, follow these steps:

  1. Complete an eight-module education program provided by CFFP. There are no prerequisites for this program, and you have 120 days to complete it (including testing and passing the Final Exam). The modules cover getting to know your high-net-worth client; considerations for business owners; income tax strategies for high-net-worth clients; executive benefits planning for high-net-worth clients; estate planning for high-net-worth clients; and fiduciary, regulatory, and ethical issues for financial services providers.
  2. Take and pass the AWMA® exam. You must take the test for the first time within six months of enrolling for the program, and you have a year to pass it. There are 80 questions on the exam, and the passing score is 70 percent. According to Analyst Forum, you should plan on studying for about 150 hours.
  3. Agree to abide by a code of ethics.

Is the AWMA® Designation Right for You?

The AWMA® offers you a chance to distinguish yourself in wealth management. It is right for you if you are:

  • An experienced advisor who wants financial planning credentials to advance your career
  • A producer who is transitioning from product sales into offering a broader range of services
  • An advisor with a broad financial knowledge who wants to specialize in the unique needs of high-net-worth clients
  • An advisor who wants to pursue the CFP® Certification or a Master of Science degree at a later date

Learn more about the AWMA® program and how to enroll here.