What’s a CeFT? A Look at Financial Professionals’ Designations

Rick KahlerAdvisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.

A correction was made to this article on February 15. The Chartered Wealth Manager (CWM) designation was moved from Gold to Bronze in the Investment Advising category to reflect the requirements of that designation more accurately.

If you’re looking for a financial advisor, one of the first things you may notice is the array of letters behind their names. (For example, mine include MS, CFP®, CFT-I™, and CeFT®.) Chances are you don’t know what all these designations mean, and your eyes may glaze over just reading them.

Yet those designations matter. Not all certifications are equal; some require much more education or rigorous qualifications than others. Some indicate areas of specialization that may either be important for you or irrelevant for your needs. Some, when combined (like a CWM® and a CeFT®), can be the financial equivalent of a superpower.

Let’s look at some of the important designations. I’m informally putting them into three categories based on the level of training and time commitment they require. These are:

  • Gold. Requiring extensive academic programs, work experience, exams, and continuing education; thousands of hours.
  • Silver. Requiring coursework, self-study, exams, and sometimes continuing education; hundreds of hours.
  • Bronze. Shorter programs and more narrowly focused exams; dozens of hours. Sometimes held in addition to Gold or Silver certifications.