As an accountant, I hold a designation and belong to a professional association. As part of conditions of the designation, I have obtained specialized knowledge through education and experience and have agreed to uphold the good name of the profession as well as adhere to a code of ethical rules and conduct.
Many professionals have specific designations and similar rigours training, education and experience programs that candidates must go through to advertise they hold the designation.
Professional Accounting Designations
There are three main accounting designations in Canada as well as some lesser known designations or associations. The big three are:
CGA – Certified General Accountants
CMA – Certified Management Accountants
CA – Chartered Accountants
Although the training and experience differs between these three accounting bodies, all three are very similar and in reality, there is little difference between them.
Lesser-known accounting designations in Canada include:
ACCA – Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. This is an international body of accounting professionals with origins from the U.K.
CPA – Certified Public Account. This is a U.S. accounting designation that many Canadian accountants also hold.
Financial Planning Designations
If you are looking for financial planning but do not need the wider range of services from an accounting, there are a variety of financial planning designations as well:
CFP – Certified Financial Planner. This is probably the most widely known designation.
RFP – Registered Financial Planner. Although lesser-known it is has a solid reputation.
PFP – Personal Financial Planner. Banks have to do everything different. It is the banking industries equivalent to the CFP, and you’ll typically run into this designation with bak employees.
Other Financial Designations
There are a variety of other professional designations you will find in with brokerage or life insurance professionals. The more common ones you may fund are:
CFA – Chartered Financial Analyst. This designation is held by mutual fund managers but many investment advisors also hold this designation. I once heard an accounting colleague explain that the CFA was harder than anything he’d done before.
CLU – Chartered Life Underwriter. This designation is generally held by those who sell insurance.
CH.P – Chartered Professional Strategic Wealth. Focuses on financial planning and investments products for high net worth clients.
FCSI – Fellow of the Canadian Securities Institute. This designation’s focus is mainly on ethics.
Knowing Your ABCs
When your looking for an accountant, financial planner, investment advisor or some combination you should be aware of the vegetable soup. While this list is by no means comprehensive, it does capture the main financial designations out there.