One of the first blogs I ever wrote for InvestmentNews back in early 2012 discussed the need for a retirement income designation. As many of my readers know, I firmly believe that retirement income planning requires different skills and tools than those used in the accumulation phase.
Many financial advisers obviously agree, given the numbers who are enrolling in retirement income designation programs.
The American College of Financial Services announced this week that its retirement income certified professional designation is the fastest-growing financial adviser credential ever launched in the nonprofit college's 87-year history.
Since the RICP was launched a year ago, more than 3,000 licensed advisers and insurance agents have registered for the online program, which includes three college-level courses and subsequent exams.
The RICP program includes textbooks for self-study, online lectures and video interviews with leaders in the retirement income planning field. The curriculum explores questions such as:
• What is the best strategy for meeting a client's income needs in retirement?
• What is the safe withdrawal rate from a portfolio?
• How should portfolios be managed differently over the course of retirement?
• How can clients maximize income in a low-interest-rate environment?
• What is the most tax-efficient withdrawal strategy?
• How can clients choose the best Social Security-claiming strategy?
• How do income annuities and employer-sponsored benefits fit into the mix?
“The main feedback we get from program participants is praise for the practical nature of the coursework,” RICP program director David Littell said. “They can watch a video and use the information in their practice the next day.”
Advisers can learn more about the RICP program by visiting TheAmericanCollege.edu/RICP. Much of the video content is free to anyone at the site's New York Life Center for Retirement Income.
Although the RICP designation is the fastest-growing credential in the retirement income field, it is certainly not the only one.
Mr. Pfau created a side-by-side table comparing what he called ”the three most-promising designations,” including the International Foundation for Retirement Education's certified retirement counselor, the Retirement Income Industry Association's retirement income management analyst and the American College's RICP.
The CRC is the oldest and most established with more than 1,800 current designee holders. The RICP is the newest and fastest-growing designation, awarding its first 247 designations in 2013.The RMA certification, first awarded in 2010, has 74 designees so far.
“Having had the opportunity to craft sections of the curriculum and see my own research featured prominently throughout, I have a natural affinity for the RICP program,” Mr. Pfau wrote. “It effectively blends financial and academic views toward retirement income while providing details about nearly any topic related to retirement income plans.”
However, Mr. Pfau added: “Advisers seeking to build and strengthen their knowledge about retirement income planning could not go wrong with any of these three programs.”
Assuming I pass my CFP certification exam next month, I'll be taking a close look at Mr. Pfau's research to see which one of these advanced retirement income designations I might want to pursue.
In the meantime, I want to thank all the InvestmentNews readers who have offered their advice and encouragement on my upcoming exam. If you have any words of wisdom you'd like to share, please send them to me and I'll compile a CFP test-taking tip sheet from the pros for a future blog.
Wade Pfau on stabilizing retirement income for 401(k) customers