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Wealthy couple talks with their wealth managerThere is more to financial advising than passing out stock tips. Well-rounded financial advisors go beyond selecting securities and asset classes to take into account all the factors that can affect the client’s objectives. They can help clients plan for retirement, manage their estates, provide for children’s educational needs, save for a home purchase and more. The wealth management certified professional (WMCP) designation indicates that a financial advisor has studied all these topics and can provide comprehensive financial consultation aimed at helping clients achieve their financial goals.

The WMCP is issued by the American College of Financial Services (ACFS), of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania which provides training for a number of other financial professional designations. This certification is the lowest-level designation offered by the college.

The sponsor markets the WMCP designations to insurance agents who want to add wealth management expertise, early-career wealth management professionals expanding their skills and knowledge, and advisors who already have other certifications such as certified financial planner or chartered financial consultant and want to be exposed to the goals-based approach of the WMCP.

WMCP holders have been educated on strategies for investment management, tax planning and risk management. They also learn how client emotions and behavior affect the accomplishment of investing goals.

The WMCP has been offered only since 2017 so these certificates are less common than those of more well-established designations like certified financial planner. However, the WMCP educational curricula is a well-rounded, comprehensive program and designates who have completed it and passed the final exam should be capable of providing solid advice.

WMCP Certification Requirements

Wealth manager on a private jet

To qualify, WMCP applicants first need a year of full-time experience in business. A longer period of part-time work experience or a degree from an accredited college can also fulfill this requirement. The educational component consists of a set of college-level courses presented by the ACFS. The courses are self-paced and online and include video lectures, interactive texts, exercises, practice exams and simulations.

After completing the coursework, applicants have to pass a proctored, closed-book exam. Students get four hours to answer the 150 questions on the exam. Applicants get a year to complete the coursework and take the exam. ACFS says the credential can be earned in six months if applicants spend 10 hours a week on the work.

The curriculum covers four broad topics, including investment theory, investment tools, different types of investment accounts and application and strategies. Overall, the courses will teach students to use a goal-based process for planning and managing client wealth, create efficient investment portfolios, evaluate financial instruments, devise a wealth management strategy and generally provide solutions for complex wealth management needs.

The certificate costs $2,900. This includes study materials, online learning tools and exam fees. Students can save $150 by paying the entire amount in advance.

To get the certificate, applicants also have to agree to follow the college’s code of ethics. This code is less restrictive than the fiduciary standard, which requires advisors to always put the interests of clients above their own. However, it does require signees to give clients the same level of service that they would give themselves.

WMCP certificate holders have to renew the certificate every two years. This requires taking 30 hours of continuing education and passing a recertification test.

Comparable Certifications

The WMCP is an early- to mid-level certification that may be taken by experienced advisors or those just starting out. As an optional designation it doesn’t provide its holders with any particular powers or privileges. It does indicate that the holder has a special interest in goal-directed wealth management and has committed to stay current and follow ethical procedures. Other similar accreditations include:

Accredited Wealth Management Advisor (AWMS) from the College for Financial Planning requires a year of study, including eight modules that cover many of the same topics as the WMCP curriculum. It costs $1,300.

Accredited Asset Management Specialist (AAMS) is another certification from the College for Financial Planning. It also costs $1,300 but is less demanding than the AWMS certification in terms of the amount of study required to complete the 10-module educational component.

Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC) from the non-profit Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education requires 1,000 hours of financial advising experience, three letters of recommendation, completing required education and passing a final exam. The education component can be done via a self-paced study program, a university program and a distance learning option. Costs range from $490 to $2,000 depending on education choice.

Bottom Line

A wealth managerWMCP certificate holders have been educated in many of the same areas that other financial advisory designations cover. One difference is the WMCP curriculum’s special focus on helping clients identify and achieve their financial objectives with goal-oriented strategies encompassing investment selection, portfolio design, tax management and more. The WMCP training also addresses emotional and human capital concerns as they relate to financial advice.

Tips on Wealth Management

  • Financial advice from an experienced and engaged advisor can help savers and investors make sense of the challenging world of personal finance. 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.
  • Wealthy people often have to deal with the tax consequences of capital gains. A capital gains tax calculator can make short work of figuring this out.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/kate_sept2004, ©iStock.com/EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER, ©iStock.com/Petar Chernaev

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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