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What Is a Qualified Plan Financial Consultant (QPFC)?


Need help planning for retirement? Partnering with a Qualified Plan Financial Consultant (QPFC) can help you find the answers you seek. Since QPFCs have extensive retirement planning training, they can help guide you through the process. Read on to discover how a QPFC can help you with your retirement obstacles.

What Is a Qualified Plan Financial Consultant (QPFC)?

As an alternative designation to the Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor (CPFA), candidates can choose to pursue the Qualified Plan Financial Consultant (QPFC) credential. Both credentials require the same course work and exams. However, if the financial firm or broker-dealer that the candidate works for doesn’t allow the CPFA designation, the candidate can become a QPFC.

A QPFC must prove expertise and experience working with retirement plans. Candidates spend about two months learning about fiduciary services for retirement plans to acquire the QPFC certification. QPFCs help their clients objectively review their financial situation, isolate potential concerns, and provide recommendations and solutions for tending to these financial matters.

Qualified Plan Financial Consultant Qualifications

The National Association of Plan Advisors (NAPA) oversees all course work and exam requirements for the QPFC. To achieve a QPFC certification, candidates must have comprehensive knowledge of general retirement concepts, terminology, distinctive features of each plan, and how financial professionals play a role in the retirement planning process. Candidates must also have at least two to three years of experience working with retirement plans.

Additionally, all candidates must pass the NAPA QPFC examination. According to NAPA, it requires roughly 12 months and 50 to 100 hours of study to complete the QPFC. The total exam cost is $967 for NAPA members, with NAPA membership costing an extra $595 those who aren’t working for NAPA member firms. For non-members, the cost of the exam and the study modules runs closer to $1,400.

Candidates who fail the exam can retake it after 45 days. Candidates who achieve the QPFC have proven their proficiency in plan administration, compliance, investment, fiduciary, and ethical concerns.

QPFC Continuing Education

Once a candidate has received their QPFC designation, NAPA requires them to meet their continuing education criteria. All QPFCs must complete 20 continuing education credits, with two related to ethics. They must complete their credits in a two-year cycle as well as maintain their NAPA membership every year.

Membership renewal is $590 for those who aren’t members of NAPA and $65 for members of NAPA-tied firms.

Should You Work with a QPFC?

qpfcPlanning for retirement comes with its own set of challenges. Many pre-retirees have numerous questions they don’t know the answers to. Some of these retirement concerns include how to manage distributions in retirement and what additional taxes they should expect once they finish working. Partnering with a QPFC can help you find the answers to your retirement questions. A QPFC can help guide you through the financial decision-making process and help you establish a solid retirement plan.

QPFCs have years of experience in the field and have the knowledge and expertise you may need to your retirement concerns. However, they are not the only financial professionals you should consider. You may want to compare other options, especially if you have a more complex financial situation.

For example, if you have a niche need, you may want to consider working with a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC). Financial professionals who obtain the ChFC designation often have experience working with specific financial needs such as financial planning for divorce or small business planning. The American College of Financial Services runs this designation and requires four months of extensive studying and preparation.

Therefore, partnering with a ChFC might be a better solution for those who have more specialized planning needs. While a QPFC may be able to guide you and point you in the right diction, other designations may be a better match for your situation. Understanding the different types of certifications and designations will help you find the right financial advisor to help you reach your financial goals and objectives.

How to Find a QPFC

It’s important to determine what your financial needs are. Take some time to evaluate areas of your finances where you may have cause for concern. For example, you may need guidance with a tax strategy or planning for your children’s education. Whatever your financial needs are, there’s a professional who can help.

After you determine what you’re looking for in a financial advisor or professional, you can begin your search. You may want to start by asking your friends and family for referrals. Once you discover some candidates, you can check their credentials with BrokerCheck by Finra. You may also want to take time to interview each candidate to make sure they are a good fit for your financial needs.

Selecting the right financial professional has everything to do with your overall well-being. It’s just as important as choosing the right lawyer or doctor. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure you select the best advisor.

The Bottom Line

qpfcWhen planning for your future, it’s wise to consider partnering with a financial professional. You’ll have a lot of questions and concerns as you head for retirement. That’s why it’s important to have an expert by your side who can guide you on your journey toward your golden years. Working with a financial professional like a QPFC can boost your financial confidence and ensure you make more thoughtful financial decisions.

Financial Planning Tips

  • Are you considering a fiduciary advisor? Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Before you retire, you’ll be faced with a few questions. How much will you need to retire? What will your 401(k) be worth when you stop working? How bad will your tax hit be when you withdraw retirement savings? SmartAsset’s retirement guide can help answer all of those questions as you prepare for the future.

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