With millions of people living into their 70s, 80s and 90s, the costs of healthcare, long-term care, aides and nursing homes are straining finances in many families. In response to this chronic problem, the financial and insurance industries have created many specializations for professional advisors. One of these, the Certification for Long-Term Care (CLTC), focuses on the complexities and expenses of services for the aged. If you’re making a plan for yourself or a loved one, you may want to engage an advisor with this certification. A consultation with a financial advisor could be a first step in determining just how much specialized professional help you need.
Becoming a CLTC
The Certification for Long-Term Care created the CLTC in 1999 and continues to hold the trademark. The corporation’s website says this is the only third-party-issued, long-term care certification (some insurance companies also offer specialized training). Additionally, the corporation provides all study and exam material. Program enrollees may take a two-day master class, which costs $1,165, or break out the coursework into 16 online modules (the eCLTC), also for $1,165.
Technically, there are no course prerequisites. CLTC coursework targets insurance agents, financial advisors, lawyers and CPAs. That said, any professional who regularly advises clients on retirement planning and long-term care is encouraged to apply. CLTC instructors mostly are insurance agents with active practices.
The coursework covers many technical aspects of long-term care planning. But the wheelhouse of instruction covers insurance, Medicaid and the cost of various services. However, candidates also hone more interpersonal skills. They can help clients plan for engaging family members they select as healthcare proxies or executors. Since long-term care may last for years after incapacitation, this can be a critical element of planning.
Candidates have 120 days after registration to complete the course and pass the exam. If they fail, they may re-take the test twice if necessary for an extra $75 fee. Once certified, the CLTC holders pay an annual renewal fee and complete either the CTLC renewal course or a state-mandated long-term care training every two years.
Benefits of the CLTC Designation
CLTC promotional material emphasizes the certification can improve two different tool sets advisors and agents need. Primarily, it should keep them current in the complexities of long term care, insurance, retirement and end of life planning.
But certification also can help these professionals frame difficult conversations with their clients. Since this type of planning often becomes a family affair, it’s important for advisors to guide conversations that touch on emotions and trust issues. In short, long-term planning advisory requires expertise and understanding alike.
Additionally, the certification can be an important value-add to an advisory practice. It can demonstrate professional competence and interest in long-term planning- qualities many clients may value. Since long-term care is a major growth area, the CLTC can help professionals distinguish and, potentially, grow their business revenue.
Those seeking professional advice can expect a CLTC holder to understand how complex long-term care planning and insurance can be. Ideally, they’ll see the bigger picture as it relates to loved ones who will bear responsibility in the event of incapacitation.
CLTC vs. Certified Retirement Counselor (CRC)
As stated, there are many certificates professionals can acquire to highlight their expertise and attract clients. Knowing which one might indicate you’ve found the right advisor can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Of course, credentials are just one factor to consider when you’re choosing an advisor. That said, we’ll compare the CLTC with another popular credential, the Certified Retirement Counselor (CRC).
CRC’s parent organization is the non-profit International Foundation for Retirement Education (InFRE). This organization has set a mandate to address a potential crisis, which is retirement unpreparedness in millions of American families. While CRC has no mandatory curriculum, candidates must pass an exam that covers retirement planning, fundamentals of investments, retirement plan design, retirement income management and guidance on counseling and education practices. Additionally, candidates must be established professionals. Most candidates work in financial services, law, accounting.
The primary difference between these certificates is their focus. CRCs take a wider view of their clients’ situation. They may assist clients in building up their nest eggs and catch-up investing. With clients on the other side of retirement, CRCs may also cover estate and inheritance planning. By contrast, CLTCs look very closely at insurance and the cost of long-term care. They may concentrate on established plans that will continue even after incapacitation. In general, they specialize in how to deploy accumulated assets and fully funded accounts.
For those near or in retirement, both certifications are worth a second look. If you’re still funding a retirement plan, you might want to start with a CRC. If your funding is complete but you need to confirm you have the right insurance and succession plans in place, the CLTC may be a better choice.
The CLTC is a credential that can help professionals stand out as retirement experts. If you or a family member have questions about how to pay for long-term care or how to ensure end-of-life directives will be honored, a CLTC may help. Also, this type of professional can help you create and enact a plan that provides peace of mind.
Of course, no certificate or credential is a guarantee of quality advice. Also, many advisors without such certifications may provide excellent guidance for your retirement years. That said, the CLTC has recognition from professional organizations that contribute to quality control in the financial and insurance industries. If you have an immediate advisory need, a consultation with a CLTC may be a good start.
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