Some clients may ask their advisor to focus on a specific area—insurance needs, investment portfolio, income planning, etc.—but many will want a more holistic approach.
The Certified Retirement Counselor® (CRC®) program’s goal is to enable advisors to provide comprehensive pre- and post-retirement planning.
The CRC program has been offered since 1997 by the International Foundation for Retirement Education® (InFRE), a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization headquartered in Lubbock, Texas.
According to Kevin Seibert, the CRC program director, roughly 2,000 certificants have earned the certificate since its inception and another 500 registrants are studying for the exams. Both groups come from diverse backgrounds, he notes.
Some work for public sector retirement plans; others are bank-based advisors and financial advisors.
Registrants must pass a 200 question multiple-choice exam and meet eligibility requirements. The exam covers five domains of practice and knowledge from a practice-based range of themes:
- Provide retirement education
- Identify needs, concerns and coals in terms of quantitative and qualitative factors by career stage/phase of retirement
- Design retirement-readiness and post-retirement strategies within the context of the regulatory, legal, operational and structural environment
- Facilitate the implementation of the retirement-readiness and post-retirement strategies
- Evaluate, adjust, and document retirement strategies across career stages/retirement phases
InFRE sells four study guides and provides online study materials. The guides, which qualify for CFP® continuing education credits, cost $125 each or $450 when purchased simultaneously.
Purchase of the InFRE study guides is optional and candidates can use their own study materials to challenge the exam, which costs a separate $450. Certificants must earn and submit 15 hours of continuing education annually to remain certified.
A key difference between the CRC program and other retirement-focused educational programs is its coverage of comprehensive retirement planning, Seibert points out: “What does it take to counsel an individual in terms of their behavior and behavioral finance issues?
It’s not just financial; it’s counseling and how to counsel an individual, a plan participant or a client to help them with their retirement readiness needs and I think that’s something else that we cover that’s unique.”
The InFRE website provides a wealth of information on the CRC program, including certification guides and details on how exams are constructed. If you’re seeking a program that covers the full retirement planning process, the CRC designation looks interesting.