Email FacebookTwitterMenu burgerClose thin

What Is a Certified Private Wealth Advisor (CPWA)?


High net-worth individuals and families are often faced with many complex financial decisions. There are financial professionals who have specific certifications in these financial concerns, though. One of the most prominent among financial advisors is certified private wealth advisor, or CPWA. These financial professionals are trained to tend to the estate planning, financial planning, investing and other needs of high net worth people. If you’re interested in speaking with a financial advisor today, consider using SmartAsset’s free advisor matching tool.

What Is a Certified Private Wealth Advisor (CPWA)?

Certified private wealth advisor (CPWA) is a certification given to financial professionals who service high net worth clients. Therefore, this certification is designed for experienced financial professionals who want to address the financial needs of those with more than a $5 million net worth.

CPWAs learn the financial obstacles that wealthy individuals face. Also, they understand how to address these challenges by developing certain strategies. Consequently, these strategies may help the client minimize their tax burden, grow and protect their assets, and develop plans for succession.

CPWA Qualifications

To achieve a CPWA designation candidates must meet the prerequisite, education, and exam requirements. All candidates must obtain all the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college or have one of the following license or designation: CIMA, RMA, CFA, CFP, ChFC or CPA license.
  • An acceptable record according to the Investments & Wealth Institute’s Admissions Committee.
  • Five years of experience in the financial field
    • Take the Private Wealth Essentials course from the Investments and Wealth Institute to earn 14 credits and take 1 year off of requirement.

CPWA candidates can obtain their coursework and examination requirements in one of four ways: through the Investments & Wealth Institute; in partnership with The University of Chicago Booth School of Business or the Yale School of Management; or through their investment firm.

If a candidate obtains their certification from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business or the Institute, they will complete a self-directed study. All candidates will use a combination of videos, readings, quizzes, and puzzles to gain knowledge of the topics tested on the CPWA exam. Then, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business facilitates a weeklong extensive training program that all candidates must attend.

For candidates who want to obtain their certification solely online, they can enroll in the Yale University’s Wealth Management & Theory Practice online program. Candidates can take the course at their own pace. This program includes live orientation webinars, videos, lectures, online readings, and exam prep materials to help candidates pass the CPWA exam.

Lastly, the Investments & Wealth Institute can partner will investment firms to offer a private class option. Candidates will need to verify if this is an option through their firm’s education department.

All courses and exams will cover 11 core topics known as the CPWA Candidate Body of Knowledge. These core topics touch on everything from ethics to portfolio management to estate and tax planning.

CPWA Continued Education Requirements

Once a financial professional completes all coursework and passes the CPWA exam, they then receive the CPWA designation. However, that’s not the end of training for CPWA candidates. All CPWAs must maintain their certification by renewing their designation every two years.

There are three requirements that CPWAs must meet to keep their certification. These requirements include completion and reporting 40 hours of continuing education credits (includes two hours of ethics) within a two-year period, paying the renewal fee and completing the compliance requirement.

What Does It Cost to Become a CPWA?


As of April 1, 2022, the Investments & Wealth Institute CPWA certification fee is $7,295. That includes the application fee, background check, tuition, course materials, room and board for executive education, one exam attempt and the initial two-year certification fee. If you need to retake the exam, there will be another fee of $225.

The Chicago Booth School of Business also offers a “CPWA Accelerator Pack” that comes with test prep materials, unlimited retakes and free hard copies of the literature. This will cost you an additional $595, though.

Do I Need a CPWA?

If you’re a high net worth individual, you may have some financial concerns that you struggle to address on your own. that’s why it’s always helpful to partner with an expert who can provide guidance. CPWAs understand the concerns and issues that high net worth individuals encounter.

CPWAs can help clients develop strategies for minimizing taxes, growing and protecting assets, and transitioning their wealth to others. In addition to a CPWA’s experience and expertise, they can support you when you face making emotional or tough financial decisions. While other financial advisors may be able to help you achieve your financial goals, CPWAs are experts with helping wealthy individuals with their financial planning needs.

How to Find a CPWA

Before you begin searching for a CPWA, it’s important to know what you’re looking for in an advisor. Even though CPWAs understand the financial issues of wealthy, they may specialize in certain areas. For example, if you need help with estate planning, avoid working with a tax-focused CPWA.

Therefore, it’s important to conduct extensive research prior to partnering with a CPWA. In addition to their CPWA designation, you’ll want to review their background and other qualifications or certifications that you could use to help you with your financial needs.

Start by visiting FINRA’s BrokerCheck to make sure your potential investment advisors are properly registered. After you find several candidates, take the time to speak with each of them individually. Consequently, you’ll want to asks about their specialization, registrations or license, products and services, investment experience, and professional credentials. Also, it’s important to ask how they get paid. Understanding how you’ll pay for their services is another important factor when deciding on a financial advisor.

Bottom Line


If you’re a high net worth individual and are looking to partner with a financial planner, you want to know that the person you choose to work with is qualified to help you address your financial concerns. The earned title of CPWA helps you pick out advisors who understand your specific needs.

CPWAs have experience, education, and a certification to prove their comprehension of your unique financial affairs. As a result, working with a CPWA may improve your financial confidence with managing your wealth.

Financial Planning Tips

  • If you have a high net worth, you may benefit from the services of a CPWA. 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.
  • Before go looking for a financial planner, determine what you want from an advisor. Do you need help developing a tax strategy to minimize your tax burden? Do you need direction when it comes to planning your estate? SmartAsset’s estate planning guide may be able to help you with the small details.

Next Steps

Do you want to learn more about financial advisors? Check out these articles:

Photo credit: © Productions, ©, © Studio