When I joined The American College of Financial Services in June 2016, I took a long look at the portfolio of designation and degree programs we offered and realized something was missing.
At the time, the RICP® was our most recent designation and it was solidifying itself as the go-to credential for advisors wanting to specialize in retirement income planning. The CLU® has long held a reputation as the premier designation in the life insurance world. Thousands of advisors have earned a ChFC® or CFP®, both of which demonstrate a mastery of financial planning principles that today’s clients expect their advisors to understand. Our graduate programs deliver a unique opportunity for financial professionals seeking advanced coursework.
These education programs, along with The College’s other designations, stand as symbols of professionalism, ethical integrity, and a commitment to furthering professional education.
While our portfolio of learning programs casts a wide net, we were missing a designation that focused on an important discipline in financial services: advanced applied wealth management. We needed a program that delivered an education based on research-backed investment strategies, and techniques for utilizing this knowledge to help clients meet their long-term goals.
I knew very early on in my tenure at The College that I wanted to see us serving the broader financial services community with an unbeatable education in personal wealth and investment management. Less than two years later, this notion has grown from a simple idea into a significant and transformative next step for The American College of Financial Services.
Our new designation program, the Wealth Management Certified Professional®, or WMCP®, delivers an advanced specialization in personal wealth and investment management unlike any other professional credential available today.
Let me share a few reasons why I’m so excited about the new WMCP® designation.
1) You’ve Never Seen Anything Like WMCP®
Moving beyond simple investment management, the WMCP® helps advisors transform theory into applied knowledge that brings a new level of value to client relationships.
The WMCP® curriculum revolutionizes the digital learning experience, delivering customized educational content that’s engaging and interactive. If your previous experience with an online course can be likened to slogging through long videos and wading through dense textbooks, then WMCP® is a breath of fresh air. First of all, there are no printed textbooks in the WMCP® program. All course material is online and easily accessible from your computer or tablet device.
The WMCP® program leverages the most innovative learning technology available to create an enjoyable student experience that uses time efficiently. Course material is presented through a mixture of readings, videos, and interactive lessons; each unit of material has been meticulously crafted by The College's instructional designers to ensure that the content is delivered in the format most appropriate for learning and retention. This integrated approach also exposes students to the math of finance and wealth management, but does not require the student to be or become a math whiz in order to successfully complete the program.
The program delivers a customized learning environment by testing students’ knowledge of wealth management topics before any coursework begins through a skills assessment that identifies student strengths and weaknesses. The results of this assessment will be factored into the program curriculum; students won’t need to sit through course content they already know, and they’ll be even more exposed to the content that they don’t know as well. (Of course, all course content is available at all times, so even if a student tests out of a module, they are free to access the material.)
As students work through the program, they are provided constant feedback on their application of concepts and are given steps to improve their mastery of the content.
2) State-of-the-Art Simulations And Interactive Student Experience
Core to the WMCP® learning experience is a series of advanced simulations that give students an opportunity to learn by experimenting with real-world client scenarios.
In a simulation, the advisor is free to take risks and explore the consequences and outcomes of their actions. Learning simulations provide the freedom to fail, but more importantly, they create opportunities to learn from mistakes. Having the freedom to make real-world portfolio decisions without real-world repercussions is a liberating way to learn and develop essential investment management skills.
The simulations encourage students to wrestle with significant ideas and apply theory and knowledge in a dynamic way.
3) WMCP® Trains Advisors in Goal-based Investing
Goal-based financial planning is an important philosophy that’s infused throughout the WMCP® curriculum. The essence of goal-based investing is that the client account is not treated as a monolith that exists in some other world, but as an account that the client is building with investments to reach various goals. Each individual investment is made with a specific goal in mind – college savings for the children or grandchildren, a retirement nest egg, a philanthropic legacy, etc.
Building an investment process that is centered on meeting client goals is central to the WMCP® education. Learners will move beyond selecting investments to developing the specialized knowledge needed to build a long-term wealth management plan.
WMCP® | Deep knowledge. Goal-based. Wealth Management Redefined.
In a global marketplace where mass-affluent and high-net-worth individuals are seeking advisors who can demonstrate a strong understanding of their specialized needs and goals, the WMCP® offers a rigorous, deep dive into personal wealth management that will prove incredibly valuable to advisors and clients alike.
By learning to leverage clients’ detailed personal characteristics and family dynamics, advisors with the WMCP® are better equipped to create investment strategies that most effectively meet clients’ financial goals. The WMCP® takes learners through an array of key competencies, including tax rules, financial products, behavioral finance, household portfolio theory, and asset allocation. In terms of student experience and content delivery, the WMCP® is our best designation program yet.
WMCP® raises the bar for online learning at The College, and I hope in the future, we will be able to remodel our other designation programs to deliver content like we do with WMCP®.
Dr. Michael Finke is Dean and Chief Academic Officer of The American College of Financial Services.