Professional Designations

What Is an Accredited Wealth Management Advisor (AWMA)?

By  Ash and Pri

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.

An Accredited Wealth Management Advisor (AWMA) is a financial advisor who has completed the educational requirements for the AWMA designation and specializes in providing financial guidance to high-net-worth clients. Top financial firms across the country recognize the AWMA designation, and designees are considered the foremost experts in wealth management.  

This article will define the Accredited Wealth Management Advisor (AWMA) designation, why you should hire them, and what it takes to earn and maintain the AWMA designation. 

What Is an Accredited Wealth Management Advisor (AWMA) Designation?

The AWMA Professional Designation Program was created in 2005 by the College for Financial Planning (CFFP) for professionals with a finance and advice-based background. The program teaches advanced wealth management techniques for experienced advisors to manage the unique needs of high-net-worth clients.

Key topics covered in this program for the management of high-net-worth clients include: 

  • Behavioral finance
  • Exit/Succession planning
  • Considerations for small business owners
  • Fiduciary and regulatory issues 
  • Advanced investment planning, including risk vs. return optimization
  • Tax planning for high-net-worth individuals 
  • Estate planning 
  • Executive benefits planning

Typically, advisors who join the AWMA program have considerable experience in financial planning, financial products, or banking and want to pursue a career specializing in high net worth management. 

Completing the AWMA certification also counts as completing one course toward earning the College for Financial Planning’s CFP designation or Master’s degree in Personal Financial Planning. Many advisors take advantage of this to pursue multiple advanced accreditations simultaneously. 

For advisors who already have their CFP designation or another professional designation from CFFP, completing AWMA requirements counts as continuing education credit towards fulfilling renewal requirements for each.  

Should You Hire a Professional with an AWMA Designation?

The AWMA designation is considered to be the hallmark of prudent wealth management advice. As a high-net-worth individual, you can trust that AWMA members have the experience, education, and skills to guide your financial future. Since they must renew their designation every two years by completing continuing education requirements, you can rest assured that your advisor has the most up-to-date market knowledge and tactics required to handle your finances. 

Apart from core financial advice, AWMA designees are trained in behavioral finance to effectively manage emotions and relationships related to complex financial scenarios. 

To register as an AWMA, applicants must disclose any criminal, civil, or other inquiry, investigation, or proceedings related to their professional conduct. CFFP thoroughly reviews each application before individuals receive the accreditation. 

Overall, you can lean on your Accredited Wealth Management Advisor for the following services:

  • Estate planning
  • Investments
  • Retirement planning
  • Trust management
  • Insurance planning
  • Tax strategies 
  • Accounting 
  • Inheritance and multi-generational business planning  
  • Any other financial advice

You may expect wealth managers and financial planners to be synonymous. They are similar but with some key differences. Accredited wealth managers typically provide comprehensive financial services for clients with assets of $5M or more. This includes any steps required to grow, safeguard and distribute your money. Financial planners usually don’t specialize in high net worth advice and work with all income brackets. 

What Does It Take to Earn and Maintain the AWMA Designation?

Earning the AWMA designation requires completing an educational program, followed by successful clearance of an exam. 

1. Education: The AWMA program offered by CFFP is split into eight modules. The course currently costs $1,350. Students must clear all eight modules plus the examination within 120 days from registration

The modules cover all aspects of high net worth management, including 

  • Getting to Know Your High Net Worth Client
  • Investment Risk, Return, and Performance
  • Advanced Investment Products and Strategies
  • Considerations for Business Owners
  • Income Tax Strategies for High Net Worth Clients
  • Executive Benefits Planning for High Net Worth Clients
  • Estate Planning for High Net Worth Clients
  • Fiduciary and Regulatory Issues for Financial Services Professionals

The modules are online and self-paced. Students can start and finish modules at their own pace. Each module includes reading assignments, recorded video lectures, and quizzes. 

Quizzes contain 30 questions to test comprehension of each module, with detailed explanations for incorrect answers. Printed textbooks are not required, but one can be obtained for an additional $150. 

2. Practice Exam: There is a practice exam to prepare students for the final exam. It can be attempted twice and is designed to replicate the final exam’s time limit, difficulty, and material.

3. Final Exam: The final exam contains 80 questions, and students must score at least 70% to attain the AWMA designation successfully. There is a 2-hour time limit, and students can attempt it twice to improve their grades if they wish. 

4. Code of Ethics: AWMA graduates must agree to abide by a code of ethics to obtain their designation. Students must not start using the designation marks right away. Upon completing the exam, it is necessary to apply and wait for authorization to use the AWMA markings on business cards, advertisements, websites, etc. AWMA designation holders must renew their credentials every two years by completing 16 hours of continuing education credits and paying a $95 renewal fee.

Featured Accredited Wealth Management Advisors on Wealthtender

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About the Author

Ash & Pri

Ash & Pri are the founders of AshandPri.com, where they empower readers to make smart money decisions across all aspects of life. 

After achieving their FIRE goals in their 30s, they launched their blogging business in late 2021 and scaled it up quickly to generate a consistent income within a few months. 

You can find their expert financial advice & tips featured on sites like Forbes, GoBankingRates, Apartment Therapy, MSN, and more.

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.