A Registered Financial Consultant (RFC®) is a professional designation or title granted by the International Association of Registered Financial Consultants (IARFC). The IARFC is a private, non-profit membership organization. To get the RFC®, a financial planner or a financial adviser must pass the IARFC’s examination and satisfy other requirements such as having a degree in financial planning. Thereafter, a Registered Financial Consultant must comply with the IARFC’s Code of Ethics and take continuing education courses to maintain the designation. The RFC® is just one type of professional title available to financial planners.
A financial planner who wants to be a Registered Financial Consultant must pass the IARFC’s test, which covers several areas such as annuities, estate planning, securities, and investment allocation. Before an applicant takes the test, he must already have a professional designation such as a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), or another designation acceptable to the IARFC. The American College grants the CLU and the ChFC designations. If an applicant lacks a professional designation, a degree in financial planning from an accredited college or university is also acceptable. An applicant must also have four years of experience in financial planning.
A financial planner who becomes a Registered Financial Consultant must comply with the IARFC’s Code of Ethics. The code of ethics has several mandates such as complying with laws that apply to financial planning, placing a client’s interests above one's own, and charging reasonable fees. A Registered Financial Consultant must also take 40 hours of continuing education courses in financial planning annually. The IARFC may revoke the RFC® designation if a planner does not comply with its code of ethics, fails to maintain educational requirements, or has a professional license such as license to sell securities or insurance revoked by another governmental agency.
A Registered Financial Consultant is just one of many designations available to financial planners. Examples of other designations include a Certified Financial Planner (CFC), a Registered Financial Planner (RFP), a Certified Investment Management Consultant (CIMC), or a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC). As financial planning is an unregulated industry, many private organizations have emerged, and they create professional designations. An organization sets its criteria and grants its designation to anyone who satisfies the requirements. Before hiring a financial planner, it is always best for a consumer to do his or her homework by investigating a financial planner and the organization that granted the professional designation.