Professional Designations

What is an Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF)?

By  Brian Thorp

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Issued by Fi360, Inc., Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF) is a designation for professionals who are well-versed in fiduciary responsibility and meet the Global Fiduciary Standard of Excellence.  They can serve as a valuable resource to both individual advisors and investors. 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 AIF. 

What is an Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF)?

An Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF) is legally obligated to always act in the best interests of their clients. They offer recommendations based on each client’s unique goals rather than prioritizing commissions, kickbacks and referral fees that solely benefit them. 

AIF holders are highly competent in fiduciary responsibility and know how to communicate a commitment of fiduciary excellence. The AIF designation involves a rigorous training program with a closed-book final exam under a proctor’s supervision. It also requires a long-term commitment to the Code of Ethics and Conduct Standards.

Designees receive the knowledge and skills they need to evaluate the fiduciary practices of investment vehicles such as 401(k) plans and defined benefit plans. They also support those who manage endowment and foundation assets. 

Should You Hire an AIF?

An AIF can benefit you if you’re an individual investor. If you’d like sound advice from an advisor who genuinely values your success and has your best interests at heart, they are certainly worth considering. No matter what type of investment vehicles you use or hope to use to meet your retirement or other long-term goals, they can help. 

Also, an AIF will leave a paper trail as the designation reinforces documentation best practices. In the event you ever have a question or concern about your investments, they’d be able to show and explain their work. 

By hiring an AIF, you can enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that the recommendations offered to you can truly place your interests first over the compensation they receive. You’ll feel confident in knowing the advisor you’ve chosen is motivated by your long-term success instead of how much money they can earn from your investments. 

Your bank account will thank you

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What Does it Take to Earn and Maintain the AIF?

Those who hope to earn the AIF designation must fulfill certain requirements set forth by Fi360, Inc., which is an organization that specializes in fiduciary education, designations, and software. Here’s a brief overview of what that they are.

AIF Training Requirements 

To become an AIF, candidates must participate in an extensive training program. There are three training options including:

  • Online: The online version is self-paced and often selected by those who lead busy lives and prefer to complete the training around their own schedule.
  • Blended Learning: Blended learning is a combination of online and in-person classroom training.
  • Virtual: Virtual training involves five, two-hour live training sessions. 

AIF Exam

Once they complete the training program via the online, blended learning, or virtual option, candidates must sit for the closed-book exam. The exam features 80 multiple-choice questions and must be completed in two hours. Each question is organized in one of the following four content areas:

  • Organize. Fiduciary Roles and Responsibilities Are Clearly Documented and Defined
  • Formalize. The Investment Policy is Consistent with the Portfolio’s Objectives and Risk and Return Assumptions 
  • Implement. Decisions Regarding Investments and Services are Implemented in Accordance with the Duties of Loyalty and Care 
  • Monitor. The Portfolio is Monitored Regularly to Ensure Consistency with Benchmarks and Overall Objectives 

A minimum score of at least 70% is required for candidates to pass and receive the AIF designation. 

AIF Continuing Education

AIF holders must renew their certification every year. To do so, they are required to accrue six hours of continuing professional education, with at least four hours from Fi360 sources. In addition, they must maintain their current contact information in Fi360’s database, attest to a code of ethics, and remit $325 in annual dues.

What is the Accredited Investment Fiduciary Analyst (AIFA) Designation?

Once a financial advisor has earned their AIF designation, they may choose to complete additional coursework to attain the Accredited Investment Fiduciary Analyst (AIFA) designation. Advisors who have earned their AIFA designation are certified to assess if internal policies, procedures, and workflows meet the fiduciary standard of excellence.

Additional coursework consists of self-study work followed by an instructor-guided series of virtual sessions totaling 6 hours to complete, according to FI360.


Q: Why should individuals interested in hiring a financial advisor consider choosing an advisor who has earned their Accredited Investment Fiduciary designation?

Martin Smith, CRPC®, RPS®, AIFA® Together for Your Retirement

“It is very common for senior executives to be in the situation where they are in the highest tax bracket with few or no deductions to materially reduce their income. There are several good techniques for minimizing taxes for senior executives as they prepare for and go through the retirement process.

First, municipal bonds should be the preferred bond allocation for all taxable accounts. Municipal bonds generate federally tax-exempt interest; some interest is tax-exempt on a state level depending on the state and the bond. Second, Roth conversions in the early years of retirement before Social Security begins is a key strategy for reducing large IRA account balances in low tax years. The idea is to convert small portions of your IRA in the years when your ordinary income is low to Roth IRAs. Remember, your traditional IRA will be forced to disgorge cash every year after age 72 and it will be taxed as ordinary income. By moving some of that cash into a Roth IRA earlier, you will slightly lower your future income and place those funds in a Roth IRA that can grow without a future tax obligation. Third, taxable portfolios should be in low turnover strategies to reduce the likelihood of paying short-term capital gains rates on investment gains and if possible defer all gains until the securities are sold to meet a spending need.

For younger executives, 529 college saving plans and 401k plans are great vehicles for tax friendly savings. 529 college savings accounts allow parents and other family members to contribute to an investment account for a child’s college education. As long as the money is withdrawn and spent on eligible college expenses, there is no income tax on the investment gains. 401k and 403b plans are types of tax-deferred investment programs that allow the employee to save money in a way the delays paying taxes on gains. Younger executives should be maximizing their contributions to these programs.”

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Martin Smith, CRPC®, RPS®, AIFA® | Wealthcare Financial Group

How To Find The Best Accredited Investment Fiduciary For You

You’ll find a growing number of Accredited Investment Fiduciary designation holders featured on Wealthtender this year and you can also search the directory of AIF credential holders on the FI360 website.

Featured AIF Financial Advisors on Wealthtender

📍 Double-click a pin in the map view below for a preview of financial advisors who have earned their AIF designation and can work with you to develop a personalized financial plan.


How can I confirm the financial professional I’m working with holds the Accredited Investment Fiduciary designation?

Visit the directory of AIF credential holders on the FI360 website.

What if I have a complaint about the Accredited Investment Fiduciary I’m working with?

Visit this page and complete the form to register your complaint.

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.

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About the Author
A headshot of Brian Thorp, the founder and CEO of Wealthtender

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: To make Wealthtender free for our readers, we earn money from advertisers, including financial professionals and firms that pay to be featured. This creates a natural conflict of interest when we favor their promotion over others. Wealthtender is not a client of these financial services providers. Learn how we operate with integrity to earn your trust.