Integrated Wealth Management

Students planning to enter the world of finance must first decide upon a finance major. Certain undergraduate and graduate majors will more easily lead to Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification, as certain schools and majors are recognized by the CFP Board of Standards, Inc. Listed below are the most popular undergraduate and graduate finance majors leading to financial planner certification.

At the pinnacle of the financial planning world is integrated wealth management. Integrated wealth management involves ways in which the financial disciplines of wealth management connect. These include investment managing, tax planning, estate planning, and behavioral finance (the psychology of investors.

Integrated wealth management professionals usually deal with personal wealth management of affluent families and/or individuals, as well as managing the wealth of endowments, foundations, and a corporation’s retirement plans. These types of financial professionals typically work on a fee-based continuum, advising and managing the portfolios of clients with a higher net worth and greater assets. Integrated wealth managers are certified financial planners who perform strategicinvestments to maximize the wealth potential of their clients.

Integrated wealth managers are concerned with getting into the minds of their clients (investor psychology), constructing a tax-efficient portfolio for clients, capital market opportunities and forecasting, strategic asset allocation, retirement planning, estate planning, and investments.

There is a relatively short list of credentialing options that are appropriate for the level of total financial expertise required to be involved in integrated wealth management.

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
Many who work in integrated wealth management opt to become Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA). Offered by the CFA Institute, this graduate-level credential results from completing a self-study curriculum and a three-level examination. Subjects included in the CFA educational program include:

  • Ethical and professional standards
  • Investment tools such as:
    • Corporate finance
    • Economics
    • Financial reporting and analysis
    • Quantitative methods
  • Asset classes such as:
    • Alternative investments
    • Derivatives
    • Equity investments
    • Fixed income
  • Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning

Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
Other integrated wealth management professionals decide to become Certified Financial Planners (CFP). This credential is bestowed by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards and involves passing an examination after earning a bachelor’s degree. Topics that are covered on the exam include:

  • Principles of financial planning
  • Insurance planning and risk management
  • Employee benefits planning
  • Investment planning
  • Income tax planning
  • Retirement planning
  • Estate planning

Chartered Financial Consultant (CFC)
Some integrated wealth management professionals seek CFC (Chartered Financial Consultant) certification. This credential is offered by the American College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and requires completing a financial planning education program and passing a subsequent examination. The CFC credential stresses the importance of ethics in financial services, especially important for integrated wealth managers who are advising clients with greater amounts of assets. Prior to applying for CFC certification, one must have three years of full-time business experience. (An undergraduate or graduate degree can count for one year of experience). Subjects in the CFC program/examination cover:

  • The Process and Environment of Financial Planning
  • Fundamentals of Insurance Planning
  • Income Taxation
  • Planning for Retirement Needs
  • Investments
  • Fundamentals of Estate Planning
  • Financial Planning Applications
  • Financial System in the Economy
  • Estate Planning Applications
  • Executive Compensation
  • Financial Decisions for Retirement

AWMG Advisor Certification
Still another option for financial professionals wishing to become involved in integrated wealth management is to earn the AWMG credential. Offered by America’s Wealth Management Group, this credential requires that applicants first hold a FINRA Series 65 or 66 license, then attend and pass the AWMG two day training program. Those who pass may use the “AWMG Advisor” credential with their names. The AWMG credential is recommended for those who plan to work with individuals within five years of retirement age who have at least $250,000 in assets.

Other Certification Programs for Integrated Wealth Managers

The American Academy of Financial Management (AAFM) lists ten of its own graduate-level certifications that are globally recognized and may apply to professionals who wish to work in integrated wealth management. Certifications appropriate for integrated wealth management include:

  • CWM (Certified Chartered Wealth Manager)
  • CAPA (Certified Asset Protection Analyst)
  • CTEP (Chartered Trust and Estate Planner)
  • CAMC (Certified Anti-Money Laundering Consultant)
  • CAM (Certified Chartered Asset Manager)
  • CCA (Chartered Compliance Analyst)
  • MFP (Master Financial Planner)
  • CMA (Chartered Market Analyst – Financial Analyst Designate)
  • CPM (Certified Chartered Portfolio Manager)
  • RFS (Registered Financial Specialist or MFM)