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What Is the Chartered Retirement Plans SpecialistSM (CRPS®) Designation?


CRPS designation work
By: Kaplan Financial Education
December 18, 2019

The Chartered Retirement Plans SpecialistSM (CRPS®) designation enables financial advisors and other professionals to demonstrate their expertise in administering retirement plans for businesses and wholesale clients. It is offered exclusively by the College for Financial Planning®—a Kaplan Company (CFFP). This article explains the designation, how it differs from the CRPC® mark, and the curriculum to help you decide if it's a good fit for your career.

About the CRPS® Designation

As retirement plan options evolve and tax complexity increases, many companies seek professional plan administrators to design, install, and maintain their company retirement plans. Firms, non-profits, and government organizations of all sizes recognize the unique skills needed to implement and oversee these internal retirement plans. The CRPS® designation demonstrates that you have those skills.

The CRPS® program addresses topics such as the types and characteristics of retirement plans, IRAs, SEP, SIMPLE, 401(k), and defined benefit plans. It also includes coursework that covers non-profit and government plans, qualified and IRA distributions, plan design, installation, and administration, and fiduciary issues.

How Does the CRPS® Differ from the CRPC®?

Candidates in the CRPS® program focus on retirement planning for employees and management in for-profit companies and public sector organizations. By contrast, the CRPC® designation is the industry benchmark for individual retirement planning. The CRPC® program guides candidates through specialized tax and estate objectives and strategies for a retiree and presents the financial and emotional aspects of financial planning that are unique to the retirement process for individuals.

The CRPS® Curriculum

The CRPS® curriculum consists of these seven modules:

  • Introduction to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and the Fiduciary Standard Employer-Funded Defined Contribution Plans
  • Participant-Directed Retirement Plans
  • Retirement Plan Solutions for Small Business Owners
  • Retirement Plan Selection, Design, and Implementation
  • Administering ERISA-Compliant Plans Working with Participants

Although most students complete the CRPS® program in 90 days, they have one full year from their enrollment date to complete these modules, and there is a final exam. The final exam contains 80 questions, and the passing score is 70 percent. To ensure that students are making satisfactory progress in their studies, they must test at least once every six months until the successful completion of the program.

The Benefits of the CRPS® Designation

The CRPS® mark can set you apart from other advisors because it demonstrates you have the knowledge and expertise to recommend implementation techniques that can be executed into well-structured, company-appropriate retirement plans. Businesses, non-profits, and government organizations will recognize that you can effectively administer wholesale retirement plans for their employees and management.

Earning the designation is also a sound financial decision. Advisors can expect an average of a 20 percent pay increase after earning the designation. Plus, it can help with your future education plans. CRPS® designees receive credit for an elective in the CFFP MS Degree in Personal Financial program. This allows you to save both time and money while pursuing multiple credentials.

Considering the CRPS® Designation?

The CRPS® designation is well-suited for:

  • Experienced advisors who desire financial planning credentials to advance their careers
  • Finance professionals who would like to specialize in wholesale-based retirement plans rather than planning for individuals
  • Advisors who would like to get a designation to boost their retirement planning skills that also gives them a headstart on earning the CFP® certification or a Master of Science degree

To learn more about how to earn a retirement planning designation endorsed by the top financial firms, visit the CRPS® web page.