At Ritter Daniher, all of our advisors are Certified Financial Planners.  In addition, we are all registered financial advisors with NAPFA, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.  All NAPFA members are held to the highest levels of competency standards, believe that clients are best served by a comprehensive approach to financial planning, and are fee-only fiduciaries.  Being fee-only means we do not sell financial products and we never make commissions.  As a result, we offer unbiased advice, free of conflicts of interest.  We are here for you – to serve you and look out for your best interests above our own.  With such high standards, it is no surprise that more than half of those who inquire about joining NAPFA are denied admission when they initially apply.

In addition to NAPFA, all RDFA financial advisors are encouraged to participate in local, regional, and/or national study groups.  These groups allow us to learn from trusted colleagues and industry peers, and to share knowledge that helps better the entire industry.

CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™   CFP® and federally registered CFP (with flame design) marks (collectively, the “CFP® marks”) are professional certification marks granted in the United States by Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (“CFP Board”).  The CFP® certification is a voluntary certification; no federal or state law or regulation requires financial planners to hold CFP® certification. It is recognized in the United States and a number of other countries for its (1) high standard of professional education; (2) stringent code of conduct and standards of practice; and (3) ethical requirements that govern professional engagements with clients. Currently, more than 62,000 individuals have obtained CFP® certification in the United States.   To attain the right to use the CFP® marks, an individual must satisfactorily fulfill the following requirements:

  • Education – Complete an advanced college-level course of study addressing the financial planning subject areas that CFP Board’s studies have determined as necessary for the competent and professional delivery of financial planning services, and attain a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited United States college or university (or its equivalent from a foreign university). CFP Board’s financial planning subject areas include insurance planning and risk management, employee benefits planning, investment planning, income tax planning, retirement planning, and estate planning;
  • Examination – Pass the comprehensive CFP® Certification Examination. The examination, administered in 10 hours over a two-day period, includes case studies and client scenarios designed to test one’s ability to correctly diagnose financial planning issues and apply one’s knowledge of financial planning to real world circumstances;
  • Experience – Complete at least three years of full-time financial planning-related experience (or the equivalent, measured as 2,000 hours per year); and
  • Ethics – Agree to be bound by CFP Board’s Standards of Professional Conduct, a set of documents outlining the ethical and practice standards for CFP® professionals.

Individuals who become certified must complete the following ongoing education and ethics requirements in order to maintain the right to continue to use the CFP® marks:

  • Continuing Education – Complete 30 hours of continuing education hours every two years, including two hours on the Code of Ethics and other parts of the Standards of Professional Conduct, to maintain competence and keep up with developments in the financial planning field; and
  • Ethics – Renew an agreement to be bound by the Standards of Professional Conduct. The Standards prominently require that CFP® professionals provide financial planning services at a fiduciary standard of care. This means CFP® professionals must provide financial planning services in the best interests of their clients.

CFP® professionals who fail to comply with the above standards and requirements may be subject to CFP Board’s enforcement process, which could result in suspension or permanent revocation of their CFP® certification.

NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor:

  • Applicant must have a bachelor’s degree in any discipline from an accredited institution.
  • Applicant must have a CFP® certification.
  • Applicant must sign the NAPFA Fiduciary Oath.
  • Once approved for membership, the applicant must earn 60 continuing education credits every two years.

Applicant must demonstrate the ability to take a comprehensive approach to financial planning by either submitting a sample comprehensive financial plan or participating in a peer review dialogue with a third-party Plan/Peer Reviewer.

The Certified Fund Specialist® (CFS®) designation demonstrates the advisor’s expertise and commitment to understanding mutual funds - to able to evaluate and compare financial measurements and benchmarks of the funds when constructing a portfolio.

Curriculum:  Students are given 12 months to complete the program, but the vast majority of the enrollees complete the materials within a couple of months.  There are four requirements for certification:

  • Pass three exams; each one covers two of the six modules (students can elect a three month-extension for $40)
  • Complete one open-book study (a one page set of facts based on a hypothetical client)
  • Fill out a registration form and complete a student questionnaire, and
  • Sign a code of ethics

Examination Requirements:  Each exam is a 60 minute, 50-question, computer-administered exam - a passing score of 70% is required for each exam. Exams can only be taken sequentially, and the student needs to be notified of a passing grade before sitting for the next exam.

Exams are taken online, with a proctor (disinterested third party). There is no additional exam fee; it is included in the cost of your course tuition. If a re-take is necessary, a $75 charge will apply.

Additional Requirements:  To earn this designation, candidates must have at least 2,000 hours of work experience in the financial services industry or a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. The designation will not be granted until the required minimum number of hours has been fulfilled or a bachelor's degree has been granted.

Continuing Education Requirements:  Designees must report 30 hours of CE every 2 years directly to IBF. Designees have a wide range of topics and methods to choose from (e.g., attending seminars, reading books, completing other courses, teaching, writing articles, etc.). Also, each year designees must remit a $100 annual renewal fee.

The Certified Trust and Financial Advisor designation is a professional credential offered by the American Bankers Association for financial professionals who offer fee-based services.  To qualify for CTFA certification, individuals must meet specific levels of experience (depending on their level of education), pass a comprehensive exam, and agree to abide by a code of ethics.

Curriculum:  To achieve the designation candidates must have a minimum of three years’ experience in wealth management along with the completion of a trust training program. Candidates can also have five years’ experience in wealth management along with a bachelor's degree or ten years’ experience in wealth management. Wealth management experience is defined as direct experience in the various facets of delivering financial planning and fiduciary services relating to trusts, estates, IRAs and individual asset management accounts. This experience further includes providing administrative, investment management, tax, legal and marketing services.

Examination Requirements:  The CTFA exam covers Fiduciary & Trust Activities, Financial Planning, Tax Law & Planning, Investment Management, and Ethics in the following format:

  • 200 multiple-choice questions
  • Maximum 4 hour timeframe allowed
  • Calculators or other devices not permitted

Additional RequirementsCandidates must also sign a professional code of ethics.
Continuing Education Requirements:  To maintain the CTFA designation in good standing one must:

The Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU) designation is a professional credential for persons involved in the protection, accumulation, preservation, and distribution of the economic values of human life.  The CLU program provides insights into the life insurance business, its importance to the economy, its operation and distribution systems, and its resurging importance for safe and secure investments.

Curriculum:  Candidates must pass an examination for the following five required courses and three elective courses to earn the designation:

Required Courses

  • Fundamentals of Insurance Planning
  • Individual Life Insurance
  • Life Insurance Law
  • Fundamentals of Estate Planning
  • Planning for Business Owners and Professionals

Elective Courses

  • Financial Planning: Process and Environment
  • Individual Health Insurance
  • Income Taxation
  • Group Benefits
  • Planning for Retirement Needs
  • Investments
  • Estate Planning Applications

As a general rule, candidates should plan to spend 50-70 hours studying for each course. The program can be completed as quickly as a candidate desires, but most students complete their designation requirements within 15-24 months.

Examination RequirementsEach exam is a two-hour, 100-question, computer-administered exam.

Additional RequirementsCandidates must meet experience requirements and ethical standards, including three years of business experience immediately preceding the date of use of the designation; an undergraduate or graduate degree from an accredited educational institution qualifies as one year of business experience and, when using formal education as qualifying experience, the remaining two years must immediately precede the date of the award.

Continuing Education Requirements:  Each designee who falls in one of the following categories must complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years. If you do not fall into one of these categories, you are exempt from CE requirements:

  • Licensed insurance agent/broker/consultant
  • Licensed security representative/registered investment advisor
  • Financial consultant, attorney, accountant, employee benefits specialist, and any other individual who provides insurance, employee benefits, financial planning, or estate planning advice and counsel to the public

AEP® (Accredited Estate Planner®)   The AEP® designation is a graduate-level specialization in estate planning, obtained in addition to already recognized professional credentials within the various disciplines of estate planning who support the team concept of estate planning. It is awarded to estate planning professionals who meet stringent requirements of experience, knowledge, education, professional reputation, and character.

Educational Requirements:

Two graduate-level courses administered by The American College or from another accredited graduate program as part of a master’s or doctoral degree unless applicant has 15 or more years’ experience as an estate planner.


Candidates must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Must be an attorney (JD), accountant (CPA), insurance professional or financial planner (CLU®, ChFC®, CFP® certificant) or trust officer (CTFA)
  • Must be in good standing with their professional organization, not be subject to disciplinary investigation, and provide three professional recommendations
  • Must be presently and significantly engaged in estate planning activities and have a minimum of 5 years’ experience in estate planning in one or more of the prerequisite professions
  • AEP® designees must maintain membership in NAEPC.


NAEPC’s Code of Ethics is intended to align with those of the gateway professional designations required prior to earning the AEP®. View the NAEPC Code at


Examination standards are those used by the accredited academic institution providing the graduate courses and include proctored, closed-book exams.

Continuing Education:

30 hours every 24 months, including 15 hours in estate planning. Recertification required annually.


Designation may be moved to “inactive” status if designee is found not to be in compliance with recertification requirements. The NAEPC Board determines annually the percentage of designation holders to be audited.


Courses to fulfill AEP®’s educational requirements are at a graduate level and must be taken through an accredited academic institution.

File a Complaint about a Designee:

Complaint procedure and form available online at

Issuing Institution:

The National Association of Estate Planners & Councils awards the AEP®. NAEPC encourages programs to increase recognition and acceptance of estate planning as a specialty.

Certified Financial Paraplanner (RP)   No longer offered or supported by issuing organization (College for Financial Planning).

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