A4A Launches 12-Credit, 12-Week Financial Counseling CE Course Hot

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On March 30, 2021, the CFP Board announced a revision to the principal knowledge topics a CFP® professional is required to master. A completely new topic was added: the psychology of financial planning.


Until now, you did not need to know anything about psychology to be a CFP® professional. Effective Jan. 1, 2022. however, the psychology of financial planning will comprise seven percent of what you must know to hold a CFP® designation.


The CFP Board action has repercussions beyond the CFP® designation. CFA Institute for years has included behavioral finance education in its exam.  CPA financial planners, CPA/PFS®, and CIMA® practitioners are almost certain to add financial psychology to their knowledge requirements. 


Changes to knowledge topics by CFP Board occur rarely and at glacial speed. The CFP Board’s Practice Analysis Study, which drives changes in knowledge, was last updated in 2015. 


The action formally recognizes knowledge learned from the burgeoning social science of behavioral economics, a field first recognized for its contribution in helping to improve society through knowledge in 2002, with the award of a Nobel Prize in Economics to Daniel Kahneman, and again in 2017 with the Nobel Economics Prize awarded to Richard Thaler.


Certified Financial Counselor™ CE Course

The 12-credit Financial Counseling certificate curriculum is free with A4A membership.  View the Certified Financial Counselor™ curriculum and schedule.


Investor Behavioral Coach™ CE Course

Also free with A4A membership is the Investor Behavioral Coach™ Certificate, which is earned by completing a one-hour class annually in addition to three- one-credit introductory classes in the first year. View Investor Behavioral Coach™ Certificate course curriculum and schedule.

The CFP Board’s recognition of the importance of psychology in financial planning coincides with changes to A4A’s curriculum in the works for many months. Spurred by growth in the number of high-income and high-net worth individuals as well as advances in behavioral economics, the nature of advisor-client relationships has grown more personal, collaborative, and deeper, requiring skills in counseling as well as technical knowledge.

A4A’s mission is to teach current facts about investment, tax, and financial planning, with no commercial influence in a 24/7 CE stream for Certified Financial Planners™   That’s why A4A added psychology of financial advice topics to its core curriculum in July 2021.

 The new continuing education courses enable financial advice professionals to earn two certificates: Certified Financial Counselor and Investor Behavioral Coach.™


The two new certificates are complementary to the comprehensive designations earned by CFP®, CFA®, CIMA®, CPA and CPA/PFS® professionals. The CFC™ and IBC™ are “micro-credentials,” meant to be earned alongside one of the comprehensive designations for financial advice professionals. 

Designation proliferation has caused massive confusion for consumers for decades now. Micro-credentials are a technology solution to the confusion over designation proliferation. All of the major accreditation bodies are issuing digital certifications and the CFC™ and IBC™ jibe with their values digitally as well as knowledge-wise. 


AICPA, CFA Institute and CFP Board are already issuing digital certificates to authenticate professionals. These accreditation bodies of the comprehensive designations have adopted certificates that are digitally authenticated for their respective professionals to try to clear up some of the consumer confusion over the proliferation of designations.


Micro-credentials are certificates that are digitally managed and can be displayed as  “badges” on your website, social profiles, and email signature to highlight a specialty. Other micro-credentials cover retirement income planning, alternative investments, and divorce planning. A4A is where you can come for CE in the psychology of financial planning and learn how to better fulfill your role in financial counseling.


A4A instructors --  Fritz Meyer, Bob Keebler, and Craig Israelsen -- are leading educators of tax, financial, and investment planning professionals and Frank Murtha fits right in with our outstanding lineup.  Dr. Frank Murtha earned a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University at Buffalo in 2000.  In 2001, he co-founded the consulting firm, MarketPsych LLC, which specialized in helping financial professionals apply financial psychology to build better relationships, gain referrals, increase assets under management and improve investment returns.  Dr. Murtha has taught at City University of New York and New York University, and is the co-author of the critically acclaimed MarketPsych: How to Manage Fear and Build Your Investor Identity, named one of the “Best 3 Financial Books of the Year,” by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.  In 2021, he founded the Financial Counseling Institute to provide advanced training and certification to financial advisors and planners.



We are grateful to Professor Stephen Horan of University of North Carolina. Prof. Horan, who was responsible for CFA Institute's education initiatives for 14 years until December 2020, has been an invaluable resource in selecting financial psychology thought leaders. Steve has been in the "catbird" seat of the profession for many years, researching the best educators and designing online courses for professionals and he generously shared his contacts and knowledge of micro-credentials. 


We are also grateful to Andrew Fama, J.D., MRFC®, AEP, MHA, and a former Visiting Professor, John Wiley Jones School of Business, State University of New York at Geneseo, NY. As smart as he is, Andrew Fama's kindness, humanity, and good intentions are his best qualities.      


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