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What is the AAMS certification?New financial advisors need something to help them stand out. Consequently, the accredited asset management specialist (AAMS) does just that. Designed for newcomers to the financial advice business, the AAMS trains advisors to identify investment opportunities as well as help clients with other financial goals. It also gives more experienced advisors a fast and simple way to learn more about asset management and improve their credentials. Consider working with a financial advisor as you seek the best way to manage your monetary assets.

What Does an Accredited Asset Management Specialist (AAMS) Do?

An AAMS can advise clients on college savings, taxes and retirement savings. The course and tests for this certification are designed to ensure advisors can assist clients with their complete financial needs. It emphasizes evaluating the client’s assets and making appropriate recommendations.

The AAMS certification is granted by the College for Financial Planning, a unit of Kaplan Inc. The college oversees a large number of financial certification programs, including the certified financial planner (CFP) designation, one of the most valued certifications in the field.

AAMS Certification Requirements

What is the AAMS certification?

To receive an AAMS, students first have to complete a 10-module education program provided by the College for Financial Planning. Then they have to pass an examination. Finally, they must agree to abide by a code of ethics and promise to continue their education.

The courses are online and can be delivered in self-study or instructor-led formats. Courses are open-enrollment, therefore students can begin at any time without waiting for the next session. The 10 modules cover the following material:

  • The Asset Management Process
  • Risk, Return & Investment Performance
  • Asset Allocation & Selection
  • Investment Strategies
  • Taxation of Investments
  • Investing for Retirement
  • Deferred Compensation and Other Benefit Plans
  • Insurance Products for Investment Clients
  • Estate Planning for Investment Clients
  • Fiduciary, Ethical and Regulatory Issues for Advisors

The College of Financial Planning provides everything necessary to study for and complete the modules and take the test. Students have access to the study materials and tests through an online portal.

Streaming video lectures, audio files and interactive quizzes also can be found through the college’s site. Meanwhile, students can access live classes online and contact professors with questions and issues. The self-study class typically takes around 10 weeks to complete.

The AAMS Certification Exam

To get the AAMS certification, students have to pass just one test. However, they have to make their first attempt at the test within six months of enrollment and pass it within a year. The fee for the first attempt at taking the test is included in the course tuition. There are no prerequisites for signing up to take the AAMS course and the exam is 80 questions. A passing score for the exam is 70% or higher.

Time and Money to Obtain the AAMS

Tuition for the AAMS courses is $1,300. This includes the fee for the first attempt at passing the certification exam. It also includes all needed course materials. Each additional attempt costs $100. Students have 120 days from the time they are granted online access to complete the course of study, including the final test.

Students employed with certain financial services firms may be able to get tuition discounts. The college may also provide scholarships. The College for Financial Planning recommends students plan to spend 80 hours to 100 hours on the course. Since the course is self-study, this amount of time is flexible.

To maintain AAMS certification students have to commit to completing 16 hours of continuing education credits every two years. Also, continuing education has to cover one or more of the topics covered in the AAMS coursework.

AAMS certificate holders also have to agree to follow a professional standard of conduct. As a result, they have to maintain integrity, objectivity, competency, confidentiality and professionalism in providing financial services.

AAMS Certificate Holder Jobs

AAMS certificates are generally earned by entry-level workers in the financial advice business. Consequently, AAMS holders are typically trainees. In some cases, they may provide support services to more experienced and highly credentialed advisors. The AAMS designation does not confer any special powers or privileges. Instead, it’s an optional credential that students may obtain to advance their careers and enhance their knowledge of financial advice.

Comparable Certifications

What is the AAMS certification?

In addition to the AAMS, the College for Financial Planning offers an accredited wealth manager advisor (AWMA) certificate. This is a somewhat more advanced designation. As a result, it requires a course equivalent to three graduate-level college credits and requires 90 hours to 135 hours to complete.

Chartered mutual fund counselor (CMFC) is sponsored by the Investment Company Institute along with the College of Financial Planning. It is similar to the AAMS certificate except it focuses on mutual fund assets.

Accredited financial counselor (AFC) is a general personal finance advice certificate from the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education. First, it requires 1,000 hours of financial counseling experience. Secondly, it demands three letters of reference. Finally, applicants must both complete coursework and pass an exam.

Bottom Line

The AAMS designation is usually for newly minted financial advisors, but even experienced pros can use it to bulk up their credentials. The courses and tests associated with the AAMS teach advisors how to evaluate assets and make recommendations. While this certification doesn’t give an advisor any real powers, it’s a sign that they can identify investment opportunities specific to their clients. As a result of obtaining an AAMS, an advisor can point them toward the right investments for their goals.

Tips for Investing

  • If you’re looking to identify investment opportunities, consider engaging an expert, such as an AAMS, as your financial advisor. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • An AAMS can help you with college savings, taxes and retirement savings if you know what your goals are. However, if you are unsure how much you want to invest, what your risk tolerance is or how inflation and capital gains tax will affect your investment, SmartAsset’s investing guide can help you take the first steps.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/SARINYAPINNGAM, ©iStock.com/fizkes, ©iStock.com/Suwanmanee99

Mark Henricks Mark Henricks has reported on personal finance, investing, retirement, entrepreneurship and other topics for more than 30 years. His freelance byline has appeared on CNBC.com and in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and other leading publications. Mark has written books including, “Not Just A Living: The Complete Guide to Creating a Business That Gives You A Life.” His favorite reporting is the kind that helps ordinary people increase their personal wealth and life satisfaction. A graduate of the University of Texas journalism program, he lives in Austin, Texas. In his spare time he enjoys reading, volunteering, performing in an acoustic music duo, whitewater kayaking, wilderness backpacking and competing in triathlons.
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