As people get older, they may face a multitude of challenges relating to many spheres of life including work, health and relationships. In addition, starting in middle age and lasting through retirement, aging citizens wrestle with how best to manage, preserve and ultimately transfer the financial wealth they have accumulated through a lifetime of labor. Many of these seniors benefit from the advice and guidance of well-trained financial advisors who have earned respected professional designations. The chartered advisor for senior living (CASL) designation indicates an advisor who specializes in helping aging clients navigate those challenges.
The CASL is a legacy certification from the American College of Financial Services. The college, based in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania has been around since 1927 and offers training and oversight on a number of financial professional certifications. Some certificates, including the CASL, are no longer being offered to new students at the college. However, the college continues to support holders of these legacy designations.
Although the CASL is no longer being offered, it is a well-regarded designation. In 2013, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a report on the credentials held by advisors seeking to serve the senior market. The authors identified approximately 50 designations, many requiring what they described as minimal or no education or oversight, and advised seniors to be cautious about accepting an advisor’s credentials as evidence of expertise or integrity. The CASL was not one of the designations that the CFPB report identified as requiring seniors to be cautious about.
CASL Certification Requirements
In order to seek a CASL, applicants had to be able to meet the work experience requirements for other certificates offered by the college, including the chartered life underwriter (CLU) and chartered financial consultant (ChFC). This means CASL applicants needed at least three years of relevant full-time on the job experience during the previous five years. A college degree could substitute for one year of business experience.
In addition to the career background, CASL holders had to take five courses. The courses covered the following areas:
- Fundamentals of estate planning
- Understanding the older client
- Health and long-term care financing
- Financial decisions for retirement
After completing the courses, applicants had to pass a final exam. The final included 100 questions and students got two hours to complete it. The CASL courses required approximately 50 to 70 hours of study each. The time to complete the entire curriculum typically ranged from 15 to 24 hours. The combined cost of the five courses was approximately $3,000.
Although the college does not offer the CASL any longer, certificate holders are still required to meet to keep their certificate active. One requirement is for 15 hours of continuing education every two years. In addition, every year the college requires legacy certificate holders to complete an ethics questionnaire. They also have to pay an annual fee of $125.
CASL Certificate Holder Jobs
Many types of financial professionals seek certifications as advisors to seniors. CASL certificate holders include insurance agents and brokers, bank trust officers, investment brokers, estate attorneys and financial planners.
Senior certifications such as the CASL don’t give their holders any specific powers or privileges. The designations primarily serve as marketing tools indicating to potential clients that the certificate holders have a special interest in serving senior populations and have received targeted instruction on the issues and solutions they confront.
Other senior-focused designations are still being granted by the sponsoring organizations. They include:
Certified senior advisor (CSA) is a designation from the Society of Certified Senior Advisors. Applicants have to complete the “Working with Older Adults” education course and pass an exam. The combined cost of the online course and exam is $1,190.
Chartered senior financial planner (CSFP) is sponsored by the Association of Chartered Senior Financial Planners. CSFP holders have to attend a three-day seminar and pass an exam. Classes are only offered privately to large insurance and estate planning agencies and are not open to the general public.
Accredited estate planner (AEP) is offered by the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils. Applicants need at least five years of financial industry experience and already possess a certification as a certified public accountant (CPA), chartered life underwriter (CLU), certified financial planner (CFP) or similar designation and complete two graduate-level courses costing $1,850 each, plus pay a $350 application fee.
The CASL designation is one of many that are intended to show seniors that an advisor has a verified competence to assist them in coping with the financial, health, psychological and other issues associated with aging. The sponsoring institution has stopped offering the designation to new applicants but existing CASL holders are still being supported. They are required to maintain certification by taking continuing education and filling out an ethics survey.
Tips on Retiring
- If you have reached the age that it’s time to start thinking about what life will be like after retirement, consider working with an experienced financial advisor to help with the financial side of things. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors who will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- A retirement calculator can help you keep on track for your retirement goals. To use this, you’ll need to put in a few details about the beginning balance, estimated annual contributions, an expected rate of return and a length of time the funds will be invested.
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