Frequently Asked Questions: CPWA® Certification

Have questions about the Certified Private Wealth Advisor® certification? You’re in the right place. See the extensive FAQs list below. If you have a question that isn’t addressed, please reach out to our team and we will be happy to assist you.

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About the CPWA® Certification

What is the CPWA® certification?  

The Certified Private Wealth Advisor® certification is designed for experienced advisors who work with high-net-worth clients. It focuses on the full cycle of wealth—accumulation, preservation, and distribution. Earning the CPWA® designation gives you the skills to identify and analyze challenges facing high-net-worth (HNW) clients and develop specific strategies to minimize taxes, monetize and protect assets, maximize growth, and transfer wealth. 

How will the CPWA® certification help me?  

CPWA® certification gives you specialized knowledge to successfully meet the needs of HNW clients. HNW clients have higher expectations for financial advisors and want assurance that you can help them accomplish their goals.  

Advisors who earn the CPWA® certification from Investments & Wealth Institute deliver more value to HNW clients. The expertise gained through certification makes you a better leader of a client’s wealth management team, including CPAs, estate planning attorneys, and more.  

Plus, the CPWA® designation gives you a competitive advantage over other advisors who may not possess deep knowledge of strategies to minimize taxes, monetize and protect assets, maximize growth, and transfer wealth.   

How is CPWA® certification different from CFP® certification?  

The Certified Financial Planner® certification covers financial planning strategies that apply to a wide range of clients. CPWA® certification is specialized to HNW clients and embraces a holistic approach to financial planning and wealth planning. 

How many continuing education credits can I earn with the program?  

The CPWA® program satisfies your CE hours requirement for a CFP® certification period (excluding ethics). You will receive 40 CE hours for CIMA® and/or RMA®, including ethics and tax & regulations. 

Education and Preparation 

What topics are covered in the CPWA® certification program?  

There are four major topics, which include 11 sections: 

  • Human Dynamics: Ethics, Behavioral Finance, Family Dynamics 

  • Wealth Management Strategies: Tax Strategies & Planning, Portfolio Management, Risk Management & Asset Protection 

  • Specialty Client Services: Retirement, Closely Held Business Owners, Executives 

  • Legacy Planning: Charitable Giving, Estate Planning & Wealth Transfer

How do I earn CPWA® certification? 

There are six steps to earning CPWA® certification: 

  1. Apply

  2. Complete a 6-month pre-study period 

  3. Attend an executive education course 

  4. Pass the CPWA® certification exam 

  5. Sign licensing agreement and remit the initial certification fee

  6. Maintain CE credits 

What are the CPWA® program prerequisites?  

  • Bachelor’s degree OR one of the following designations: CIMA®, RMA®, CFA®, CFP®, ChFC,® CPA® 

  • Pass FINRA background check 

  • Five years’ experience in the financial field at time of certification 

What’s included in the cost of the CPWA® program?  

  • Application fee and background check 

  • Tuition and materials for 6-month study 

  • Executive education course and materials 

  • Hotel Accommodations (Chicago Booth in-person programs only) 

  • Exam fee (1st attempt and 1 retake) 

What is the difference between Chicago Booth and Yale? 

Yale School of Management

University of Chicago Booth School of Business


Online ONLY—No in-person component 

Includes five day in-person executive education at Chicago Booth 

Learning Platform

Uses Yale learning platform  

Uses IWI Academy learning platform  

Materials & Resources

Materials, reading, and resources selected by Yale 

Materials, readings, and resources selected by Investments & Wealth Institute 

Study Period

One year for studies 

Six months for studies 

Cancellation Policy

No cancels or transfers 

Cancels or transfers allowed up to 60 days prior to in-person course 


Dobbs Education/Yale School of Management

Investments & Wealth Institute

Completion Certificate

Certificate of course completion provided by Yale SOM 

Certificate of course completion provided by Chicago Booth 

Study structure

Flexible schedule

More structured study timeframe

What can I expect from the in-person class?  

  • 4.5 days of executive education with Investments & Wealth Institute instructors, professors, and expert practitioners 

  • Optional exam preparation sessions 

What do I need to do before attending a CPWA® certification executive education program? 

Submit an online CPWA® certification application and select your program model: Chicago Booth or Yale.

  • For Chicago Booth: Once your application is approved, you will complete a 6-month pre-study prior to attending the executive education course. 

  • For Yale: Once your application is approved, candidates will complete an online pre–study. There is no executive education course with Yale Online. 

When can I sit for the CPWA® certification exam?  

You can sit for the CPWA® certification exam once you complete your selected program’s required education. 

How do I take the CPWA® certification exam?  

The CPWA® certification exam is offered in–person at a Pearson Vue testing center or online through Proctor U, which is monitored by a proctor.

What happens after I pass the certification exam?  

We will send you an email indicating you’ve passed the exam (within approximately 5-7 business days from the date of your exam). Then you will be required to document a minimum of five years of verified work experience in financial services. After that, you will sign a License Agreement and pay an initial CPWA® certification fee. 

What happens if I fail the CPWA® certification exam?  

We will send you an email indicating you’ve failed the exam. Then you must complete two steps: 

  • Step 1: Complete the Exam Retake Form via the link provided in the Exam Fail email. A retake fee may apply. 

  • Step 2: Make your Exam Selection via a separate link provided in the Exam Fail email. 

Please note, candidates must wait 30 days in between each exam attempt.

How many questions are on the CPWA® certification exam?  

There are 135 multiple choice questions, including 10 beta questions. You will be scored on 125 questions. 

What is the CPWA® certification exam pass rate?  

Updated exam pass rates can be found here.   

What score do I need to pass the CPWA® certification exam? 

The CPWA® certification exam does not have a set score to pass. The exam is scored using the Modified Angoff Scoring Method, meaning that your pass rate is determined by the difficulty of the exam that you received. If your exam is less difficult, then your passing score will be higher; if your exam is more difficult, then your passing score will be lower. 

Is there a deadline to pass the CPWA® certification exam?  

Candidates have a 2-year period to complete required program education and take and/or pass the CPWA® certification exam. Once your program education requirement is met, you will have an initial 90-day testing window. However, candidates have an unlimited number of exam attempts within their candidate period, and therefore can open multiple testing windows by submitting the exam retake fee, if applicable. 

When will I receive my CPWA® certification exam results? 

For both Pearson Vue and Proctor U exam vendors, you will receive results immediately after completing the exam. 

How do I retake the CPWA® certification exam? 

Upon receipt of the “Exam Fail” email received from the Investments & Wealth Institute, you will need to complete two steps: 

  • Step 1: Complete the Exam Retake Form via the link provided in the “Exam Fail” email. A retake fee may apply. 

  • Step 2: Make your Exam Selection via a separate link provided in the “Exam Fail” email. 

Please note, candidates must wait 30 days in between each exam attempt. 

What happens if I need to transfer classes or cancel?  

We can transfer you to a different class up to 60 days prior to the class (deadline date). A $750 transfer fee will apply. Cancellations must also be before the 60-day window prior to class (deadline date). Cancellations will receive a refund of their tuition minus a $1,500 non-refundable fee. 
Yale Online CPWA® Certification Program: Transfers and cancellations from the Yale Online CPWA® certification program are not permitted.