What AIF® Designation

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    The Accredited Investment Fiduciaary® (AIF) designation is awarded to investment professionals who meet specific criteria established by ANSI. These criteria include education, experience, training, professional association membership, and ongoing compliance with certain standards of practice. To earn the AIF designation, individuals must pass a rigorous examination administered by the American National Standards Institution. Individuals are required to maintain continuing education credits in order to remain eligible for re-examination every three years.

    Fi360 is accredited by the ANSI to offer the AIF accreditation program. As such, Fi360 offers our members the opportunity to become AIF Designated. This designation provides our members with the ability to use the “Accredited Investor” logo, which conveys credibility and trustworthiness.

    How to Become an Accredited Investment Fiduciary

    To become an AIF, one must meet certain educational and experiential qualifications. There are three ways to obtain the designation: take a certification program administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), earn it via apprenticeship under an accredited investment advisor, or receive it directly from FINRA.

    The latter option requires meeting specific criteria, including having a bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience. Candidates must also pass an examination administered by the FINRA.

    According to Faustino, the average time spent studying for the exam is about 20 to 25 hours. For those who do not already hold a bachelor’s degree, he recommends picking up an undergraduate finance course or getting some work experience in the field while preparing for the exam.

    What Is the Fiduciary Duty?

    A fiduciary duty is one of the most important responsibilities of an investment professional. It is the highest standard of conduct required of an individual acting in a representative capacity. In short, it means you are responsible for protecting another person’s interests at all costs.

    Fiduciaries are typically held to a high ethical standard. They cannot make recommendations based solely on personal gain, nor can they sell investments without the client’s consent.

    The fiduciary duty is what separates a broker from an agent. An agent works for his principal; he does not owe him anything except loyalty. He is free to do whatever he wants with his money, including selling securities. If he makes a mistake, he loses nothing because he did not represent the principal.

    In contrast, when a person acts as a fiduciary, he owes his client absolute loyalty. He must always put his client’s interests ahead of his own.

    This is why fiduciaries are called trustees. As such, they hold legal and moral authority over the assets entrusted to them. 21 Prudent Practice Standards

    The AIF Program offers participants access to a comprehensive set of best practice guidelines, known as the 21 Prudent Practice Standards, that provide the foundation and framework for an effective investment process. These 21 Prudent Practices are designed to help advisors avoid common pitfalls and ensure compliance with the basic requirements of prudent investing.6

    A client will benefit from using an advisor with the AIFA designation, as the advisor is held to a standard of expertise to which others may not aspire.7 Advisors certified under the AIFA Program meet the highest professional standards. They must pass rigorous exams covering areas such as portfolio construction, risk management, asset allocation and fee structuring.8 In addition, they must demonstrate adherence to the 21 Prudential Practices.9 As part of the certification process, each AIFA member agrees to abide by the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct for Registered Representatives and Investment Advisor Representatives adopted by FINRA.10

    Why Should You Hire an AIF?

    The AIF certification is a great way to weed out unethical advisors. But it doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about how ethical a particular advisor is. To make sure you’re hiring the best person for the job, here are some questions to ask yourself:

    1. Does he/she have experience working with my type of client?

    2. Is there anything I don’t like about him/her?

    3. How does he/she handle difficult situations?

    4. What is his/her reputation among colleagues and peers?

    5. Is he/she willing to work within our budget?

    6. Have we done business together before? If yes, what was the outcome?

    Initial Certification Requirements:

    The American Institute of Fitness Professionals has announced initial certification requirements for fitness professionals seeking to earn the AIF® credential. These include enrolling in and completing AIF® training, passing the AIF® examination, submitting the application and dues, and paying the annual fee.

    Recertification Requirements:

    The AIF® designation requires annual recertification every calendar year. To maintain the designation, you must accrue and report six (4) hours of continuing education each calendar year, four of which must be conducted by Fi360 or one our approved CE providers. You are required to complete 4 hours of CE per calendar year; however, we recommend completing at least 10 hours per year.

    You must conduct standards of practice reviews for advisors registered under the AIF® Designation. These reviews include conducting a compliance review of the firm’s policies and procedures and reviewing client files to ensure adherence to the firm’s policies and practices. In addition, the firm conducts an internal audit of its operations.

    In addition, firms must submit a copy of their most recent Form ADV Part 2A and Part 3 filed with FINRA, along with the firm’s registration statement and current filing fee. This information is submitted electronically to the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Disclosure System (“NASDAQ”) via electronic mail submission.

    Firms must use the NASDAQ system to file amendments to Form ADV Part 2A, part 3 and Form ADV Part 5. Firms must use the NASDAQ system to file amendments to Forms ADV Part 2A, Part 3, Part 5 and Form ADV Part 7.

    Dylan Morwell

    Since becoming an Accredited Investor himself, Dylan Morwell has had a fascination with accredited investment and loves to help others achieve the same success.

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