With the aging population and the baby boomers taking their first steps towards retirement, our society faces another very big need . . . that of retirement planning advice. So who do you go to for that advice? Do you go to the bank? A Stock broker? A Life insurance consultant? How about a financial planner?
Many people within these fields are certainly capable of retirement planning. They can find software that will help them figure out how much you need to retire based on some very simple assumptions. Heck, if that is all you need there are a lot of financial and retirement calculators on the world wide web.
The fact is there is no shortage of generalists out there. There are a lot of professionals with a lot of designations like CFP, CLU, CHFC, RHU, CIM, RFP, etc. But if you are serious about your retirement and you want individuals that specialize in retirement, take a look at some other new designations designed to cater to a more specialized market.
Certified Senior Advisor (CSA). This designation is offered by the Canadian Academy of Senior Advisors. The CSA designation originally came out of the US back in 1996. The CSA is also offered and recognized internationally.
Elder Planning Counsellor (EPC). This designation is offered by the Canadian Initiative for Elder Planning Studies (CEIPS).
These organizations are remarkably similar in terms of their objectives and approaches. In order to get your designation, you must take a comprehensive 3-day course (or do it by yourself through correspondence) and then pass a half-day exam on the material.
Both organizations have an all-encompassing curriculum that covers not only the financial side of retirement but also all of the health, care, housing, and social issues pertaining to those over the age of 55.
Professionals with the EPC or CSA designations know and understand the issues and alternatives that are important and unique to your senior life; provide guidance and assistance in financial, emotional, spiritual and health issues with your best interests in mind; create solutions that acknowledge your particular concerns and challenges; inconspicuously accommodate any age appropriate physical challenges and impairments that you may have to ensure that your needs are met.
Professional Retirement Planner (PRP)
The Professional Retirement Planner (PRP) designation is offered by the Canadian Association of Pre-retirement Planners (CAPP).
The PRP designation is a little bit different in that there is no exam required to get your designation. Rather, you must apply and demonstrate a commitment to the retirement field and acknowledge that retirement is a life transitioning process that requires knowledge about all the financial, social, and health issues of retirement. In order to get your designation, a committee of peers in the retirement planning field must approve you.
Not only is the PRP designation a more difficult designation to get but also it is one that is much harder to maintain. Professional Retirement Planners must commit to ongoing education, teaching and learning of retirement issues, not only to the public but within their peer group as well. The CAPP organization is a group of professionals that include financial advisors, healthcare professionals, pension experts, career transition consultants and much more.
Similar to the CSA and EPC designations, PRPs promote and understand that retirement is about much more than just money. PRPs are required to maintain a certain level of education where the EPC and CSA designations do not have similar ongoing educational requirements.
Specialization vs Generalization
In the medical field, there are doctors who are general practitioners and those who are specialist. In the financial services industry, we face the same distinctions. The point of this article is to help individuals who are looking for specialized retirement advice by looking for some designations that recognize the specific needs and issues facing the older segment of our population.
Finding individuals with these designations will not guarantee that you find a professional who you can develop a relationship with. In the end, most organizations would suggest that you interview three people and work with the one you are most comfortable with.
Retirement is one of the biggest transitions you will go through. Studies have shown that the more planning and preparation you do, the more likely you are to have a happy, healthy and wealthy retirement. If you need help to make retirement the best years of your life, take the time to see a professional who really understands all the issues facing retirement.