Accredited Asset Management Specialist (AAMS®)

True Tamplin

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®
Updated on January 11, 2021

What Is The AAMS® Designation?

Accredited asset management specialist (AAMS®) is a designation program for financial advisors with a special focus on asset management

The designation prepares advisors to evaluate and recommend a broad range of investment opportunities and analyze their overall implications on a portfolio. 

For example, AAMS advisors are taught to assess tax and insurance issues related to including assets within a portfolio. 

In turn, these issues influence whether those assets should be included in retirement planning. 

The AAMS designation is similar to the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification in that it aids finance professionals to advise and construct an investment portfolio for clients. 

However, it is not as comprehensive in its coverage of the financial planning subject matter. 

CFP is considered more difficult and provides a broader understanding of investment avenues available to financial professionals. 

AAMS is an intermediate step for finance professionals on the way to a CFP certification because it provides them with credits to prepare for the CFP certification.

What Does an AAMS® Do?

Accredited asset management specialists are trained to evaluate an individual’s financial situation and provide advice or options on possible courses of action. 

For example, an AAMS professional might help clients reach retirement goals through a judicious mix of investments and spending. 

Decisions relating to such goals are fraught with implications for a client’s existing cash situation. 

It might be that you have substantial debt, in the form of a real estate loan, that makes you hesitant to make other financial commitments. 

The current interest on the client’s real estate loan is high and you are eager to pay it off as soon as possible. 

At the same time, the client may be interested in building up a corpus of retirement investments. 

An AAMS will help evaluate available options in the market to achieve both funds. 

For example, they might suggest refinancing options and avenues to invest client money from the savings. 

In doing so, they will also highlight the potential effect that these investments have on the client’s  taxes and future retirement plans.

Accredited Asset Management Specialist (AAMS®) Certification

The AAMS certification is awarded by the College for Financial Planning (CFFP). 

It is conducted entirely online and is self-paced, meaning it can be completed based on student schedules. 

The CFFP provides all the necessary materials for the exam. 

Students have a year to complete the course after the enrollment date and CFFP conducts an online test after six months to make sure that students are reading up on course material. 

In terms of effort required, the AAMS certification generally takes nine to 11 weeks or approximately 80 to 100 hours of studying. 

There are 80 questions in the exam and students require a passing grade of 70 percent. 

Once they pass the exam and are designated an AAMS, candidates are required to complete 16 hours of continuing education once every two years. 

The total cost for getting an AAMS certification is $1300.

AAMS® vs CFP® for Financial Advisors

The AAMS program was created by the CFFP, an organization that was originally conceived of to administer and award the CFP credential. 

CFFP created the FPQP designation, also known as the Foundations in Financial Planning program, in 1984. 

CFFP split into two bodies: CFFP and the CFP Board of Standards in 1985.

The former became an administrative entity for financial certifications while the latter was responsible for supporting the CFP certification. 

AAMS was created by CFFP in 1994 through a partnership with the Investment Company Institute.

Both, AAMS and CFP, are designations that are a mark of skill and knowledge for finance professionals in the industry. 

Both lead to career advancement and higher salaries. 

According to the CFFP website, the AAMS designation resulted in an average salary increase of 20 percent for its holders.

But CFP is generally considered more comprehensive in terms of its coverage of the investment universe as compared to AAMS. 

CFP, which is administered by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards in the United States, also has more stringent eligibility requirements. 

Candidates for the exam should have prior financial planning experience in either 6,000 hours of full-time relevant personal financial planning or 4,000 hours of apprenticeship. 

They should also have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent. In contrast, AAMS does not have requirements for prior work experience or education.

They also have different content for their courses. 

The AAMS designation requires students to study the basics of investment planning and policies, risk and return, and investment performance. 

The scope of course content for CFP starts with the basics of finance and covers various strategies and tactics used to achieve retirement or investment goals. 

Course content already covered while appearing for AAMS exams can be used as credits in the CFP certification process. 

In that sense, both designations are complementary because one leads to the other.  

Accredited Asset Management Specialist (AAMS®) FAQs

Accredited asset management specialist (AAMS®) is a designation program for financial advisors with a special focus on asset management.
The designation prepares advisors to evaluate and recommend a broad range of investment opportunities and analyze their overall implications on a portfolio.
The AAMS certification is awarded by the College for Financial Planning (CFFP).
There are 80 questions in the exam and students require a passing grade of 70 percent.