Professional Designations

What is a Chartered Special Needs Consultant (ChSNC)?

By  Brian Thorp

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The Chartered Special Needs Consultant (ChSNC) is the only designation on the market with a focus on individuals with special needs. It was created for financial planning and legal professionals who wish to take their existing skills and knowledge and enhance the quality of life of families with special needs. 

As disabilities and chronic medical conditions become more prevalent in today’s world, the services offered by ChSNCs is in more demand than ever. Let’s take a closer look at what this designation is, what it takes to earn it and how you may benefit from working with an ChSNC. 

What is a Chartered Special Needs Consultant (ChSNC)?

A Chartered Special Needs Consultant (ChSNC) has the specialized training and experience required to help manage the unique legal and financial planning needs for individuals with disabilities. ChSNCs take pride in ensuring they can adequately address the concerns, hopes and goals of special needs families.

ChSNC holders specialize in many areas of financial planning including special needs trusts, life insurance, government benefits, estate planning, tax planning, medical expenses and retirement planning for individuals with special needs. They are also well-versed in the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, which allows states to create tax-advantaged savings programs for people with disabilities. These are all topics that are usually beyond the scope of knowledge of traditional financial planners. 

Through the expertise of financial planners, lawyers, and psychologists, ChSNC holders gain a comprehensive understanding of the financial needs of families who care for individuals with disabilities or chronic medical conditions. 

Should You Hire a ChSNC?

If you’re a caregiver to someone with special needs, a ChSNC is an invaluable resource. You can count on them as a trusted advisor. They can provide you with individualized attention and help you navigate government benefits, take advantage of ABLE accounts, set up special needs trusts and plan for long-term care as well as financial support of an individual who may not be able to live an independent, autonomous lifestyle. 

A ChSNC may alleviate some of the worry and anxiety you may feel and steer you toward a healthy financial future that protects yourself as well as your loved one with special needs. They can be there for you to answer questions, address concerns and monitor your plans as your circumstances change.

If you’ve worked with a financial planner in the past but found they struggled to understand the unique financial planning requirements for special needs families, a ChSNC has you covered. They may also assist you if you’d like professional expertise so you don’t have to figure out your financial situation with a special needs loved one on your own.

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What Does it Take to Earn and Maintain the ChSNC?

Those who hope to earn a ChSNC designation must fulfill certain requirements set forth by the American College of Financial Services. Here’s a brief overview of what that they are.

Education and Experience

To become a ChSNC, candidates must have at least five years of professional experience in financial services or law practice. They may also qualify for the designation with an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university and four years of professional experience in financial services. 

In addition, those who hold a financial certification such as CLU, ChFC, AEP, CFP, CPA, or an academic degree like MS in Financial Services, MS in Financial Planning, MS/MT in Taxation, PhD in Financial Planning, JD and/or LL.M (in Taxation) may receive the ChSNC after they complete the required coursework. 

Coursework

Individuals who wish to earn a ChSNC need to complete a series of three online courses including:

  • Introduction to Disability and Lifetime Planning 
  • Legal and Financial Issues for Special Needs Families
  • Financial Planning for Caring for Those with Special Needs 

While the first two courses are offered in a self-study format that allows ChSNC candidates to learn the material at their own pace, the final course is a live webinar. 

Ethics and Recertification 

ChSNC holders must adhere to The American College of Financial Services Code of Ethics. It’s also essential that they comply with the College’s Professional Recertification Program. To fulfill the Professional Recertification Program’s requirements, they must:

  • Submit the annual ethics questionnaire.
  • Pay a recertification fee.
  • Complete continuing education requirements every two years. 

How To Find The Best Chartered Special Needs Consultant For You

You’ll find a growing number of Chartered Special Needs Consultants featured on Wealthtender this year and you can also search the financial advisor directory on the American College website.

FAQs

How can I confirm the financial professional I’m working with holds the Chartered Special Needs Consultant designation?

Visit this page on the American College website and enter their name to verify their credentials.

What if I have a complaint about the Chartered Special Needs Consultant I’m working with?

If you have a complaint about the ethics or professionalism of a CHSNC designation holder, email The College at Registrar@TheAmericanCollege.edu.

Where can I learn more about other professional designations held by financial advisors and coaches?

Refer to this list of popular financial certifications prepared by Wealthtender to help you learn more about each designation. You’ll find a brief description of each certification, plus links to in-depth articles if you want to learn more about a particular designation.

About the Author
Brian Thorp, Founder and CEO of Wealthtender profile picture

About the Author

Brian Thorp

Brian is CEO and founder of Wealthtender. He and his wife live in Texas, enjoying the diversity of Houston and the vibrancy of Austin.

With over 25 years in the financial services industry, Brian is applying his experience and passion at Wealthtender to help more people enjoy life with less money stress.

Connect with Brian on LinkedIn

Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to encourage any lifestyle changes without careful consideration and consultation with a qualified professional. This article is for reference purposes only, is generic in nature, is not intended as individual advice and is not financial or legal advice.

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