what is a registered financial consultant

A Registered Financial Consultant  is a financial professional who has a proven understanding of the financial services industry. RFCs have demonstrated a high level of competency. They have also proven that they are well equipped to design financial plans personalized to their client’s specific needs.

The International Association of Registered Financial Consultants (IARFC) gives out the RFC designation to eligible financial professionals who apply. The IARFC is a nonprofit organization that fosters the public’s confidence in financial professionals. They do this by helping financial consultants exchange planning techniques, ensure they meet their ethical standards and offer continuing education to keep their skills sharp.

The registered financial consultant Designation

#1. Be Better

Take the next step in the learning and practice of providing financial advice with the highest level of ethical behavior.
The Registered Financial Consultant is a professional designation awarded by the IARFC to financial consultants who meet the high standards of education, experience, and ethics.

#2. Experience

A minimum of three years of experience as a full-time practitioner in financial planning or financial services is required.

#3. Education

ONE OF THE FOLLOWING to satisfy the education requirement:

  • One of the following professional designations: AAMS®, CFA, CFP®, ChFC®, CLU®, CPA, EA, LUTCF®, CFEI®, AFC®.
  • A Series 65 Securities license or one of the following combinations: Series 6 & 63, Series 6 & 66, Series 7 & 63, Series 7 & 66.
  • Life Insurance license.
  • A Bachelors’ or advanced degree in Business, Finance, Economics, or a related field.
  • (Education requirements can also be met by completing the entire course requirements for one of the designations listed above.) 


Applicants must have all the required licenses necessary for their mode of practice.

#5. Conduct

Applicants must have a sound record of business integrity with no suspension or revocation of any professional designations or licenses. Must be in good standing with all licensing bodies and organizations.


Applicants must wholeheartedly subscribe and adhere to the IARFC Code of Ethics.

#7.Application and Fees  

Complete the application in its entirety and submit the appropriate application fee.

#8.Continuing Education

All RFC® designated members must agree to devote a minimum of 40 hours every two years of professional Continuing Education in the field of personal finance and professional practice management. Four hours every two years must be devoted to ethics. Click here for more information on Continuing Education. 

#9. Re-Certification

Annually provide assurance of continued compliance and operation.

Registered Financial Consultant Qualifications

  • A professional designation including AAMS, CFA, CFP, ChFC, CLU, CPA, EA and LUTCF
  • A Series 65 Securities license or have one of the following license combinations: Series 6 & 63, Series 6 & 66, Series 7 & 63, Series 7 & 66
  • A life insurance license
  • A bachelor’s degree or an advanced degree in business, finance, economics or a related field
  • Applicants can also meet the educational requirement by completing the entire course requirements for the following IARFC designations: RFA, RFC or MRFC

Unlike other certifications, there is no coursework or exam requirement. However, all applicants must agree to adhere to the International Association of Registered Financial Consultants’ code of ethics. They also must pay a $100 application fee and a $250 membership and designation fee.

Once applicants have received the RFC designation, they must complete a series of continuing education credits. Every two years, all RFCs must devote a minimum of 40 hours to continuing education credits. Each credit must fall under personal finance or professional practice management topics. Four hours of their continuing education credits must focus on ethics.

Financial Consultants vs. Financial Advisors

The terms “financial consultant” and “financial advisor” tend to be interchangeable. That said, many financial advisors may refer to themselves as financial consultants. This is because both professionals offer their help in making complex financial decisions. Many financial advisors and consultants are experts when it comes to creating financial plans suitable for your specific needs.

Both professionals may have studied economics, accounting or finance during their college years. You may even find some professionals with MBAs or other advanced certifications. For example, one of the most highly regarded certifications is the Certified

Financial Planner (CFP) designation, but there are many others that can add value.

For instance, other than the RFC designation, the chartered financial consultant (ChFC) designation is another certification you may see consultants carry. This designation is often used as alternative to the CFP mark. The Institute of Financial Consultants issues ChFC designations once an applicant completes five online modules, completes 20 hours of continuing education credits and passes an online exam. The core of the programs for the CFP and ChFC designations are very similar, but ChFC certifications require a few additional elective courses in financial planning.

However, the RFC designation doesn’t require an inclusive board exam like the CFP designation. Yet, both CFPs and ChFCs can give you financial recommendations based off of your individual financial situation.

How to Find a Registered Financial Consultant

It’s important to note that everyone has a different financial situation. Some financial consultants and advisors are experts with certain topics. Others only work with certain investors who have a specific net worth. That’s why it’s important to find a financial advisor who fits your financial needs. You can use online search tools or ask for referrals from friends and family who are in a similar stage of life and financial circumstance.

Once you have a few candidates in mind, you can use BrokerCheck to verify a consultant’s credentials and background. Next, create a list of questions that will help you gain more insight into their practice. These questions can include their fee structure, account minimums, expertise, clientele and certifications and investing philosophy. Make sure to meet with a few candidates before you make your final decision.

#1. Bottom Line

The one of the most important factors to consider when choosing advisors is their certifications and expertise. It wouldn’t be beneficial to work with a financial advisor or consultant who doesn’t have the knowledge, education or background in the specific area you need help with. It would be like going to a dermatologist for a cardiac issue.

#2. Financial Tips

If you’re still having trouble tracking down a Registered Financial Consultant, there are other tools that can help you locate one. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Do you know how much your investment needs to grow before you can cash in? How much will taxes and inflation take from your total? SmartAsset’s investing guide can help answer those questions and determine your tolerance for investment risk.

Leave a Comment