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Testimonials & Certification Comparison Chart

Most CPWA certificants believe that wealth management professionals, like medical professionals, should have a strong foundation in generalized knowledge (like financial planning) and specialized knowledge (like wealth management) in order to best deliver services and skills.

Here’s what some CPWA certificants have to say about earning the certification: 

“The CPWA certification program lives up to its billing as a comprehensive study of wealth management. The classroom section for five busy days was informative. The quality of instruction and course topics are relevant and second to none in quality from genuine practitioners. The University of Chicago Booth School of Business augments the program’s core strengths. I met many fascinating entrepreneurs and found the class participation enlightening.” 
—Michael Hokin, CFA®, CPWA®

“My confidence in dealing with larger clients is significantly higher than before my CPWA education.” 
—Brian Beasley, CPWA®, Partner, Registered Principal, Athena Investment Group, LLC

“I am a 25-year veteran of the financial services business with most of that time on the wealth management side and almost all of it at Northern Trust here in Chicago. Currently I am a managing director for one of our Wealth Advisory teams. One of the things that you realize in this business is that it is constantly changing—investment opportunities, tax and estate planning strategies, regulations, etc. If you are not committed to continuous learning, you are in effect falling behind. There has been a proliferation of certifications and accreditations in this business. What attracted me to the Certified Private Wealth Advisor program is that it is targeted to the advisor who works with the ultra-high-net-worth client. The other attractive aspect of the CPWA program is the partnership between the Institute and The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Both organizations bring a high level of intellectual capital to the table. I began applying the knowledge gained in this program immediately—while I was still going through the program.” 
—Charles Mueller, CPWA®, CTFA, Senior Vice President, Managing Director, Northern Trust

“We recently sent six people from our staff through the CPWA certification program. We found the content to be excellent and relevant for advisors and individuals supporting the ultra-high-net-worth marketplace. Instructors, along with facilities at the University of Chicago, were first class. I would strongly recommend the CPWA program to individuals working with high-net-worth taxable clients.” 
—James Durocher, CPWA®, Director, Eaton Vance Distributors, Inc.

“I enjoyed the program. I feel I've learned more in the last six months than I have in the last nine years.” 
—Chad A. Williams, CFP®, CPWA®, COO/Managing Partner, Capital Investment Management

“The CPWA program is the perfect complement to the CIMA program—the former adding practical wealth management strategies atop the latter’s theoretical and math-laden framework. While the CIMA program breaks down investments and processes iteratively into smaller parts for analysis, the CPWA program assures that the advisor can extract exponential value beyond the mere sum of the parts of a client's wealth. The CPWA program succinctly and effectively provides the toolset necessary to compete in the ultra-high-net-worth space. Our practice already caters primarily to this market segment, but I found the coursework prior and the week in residence to be both a wonderful refresher of core competencies as well as a lab brimming over with the latest wealth management techniques and perspectives. All of this was conveyed through relevant real life examples of practitioners, peers, and authors. The program made such an impression on me that I insisted that four of my colleagues participate in the winter class so that as a group we would become more effective in our roles.” 
—Rick Schultz, CIMA®, CPWA®, CEP, AIF, Senior Vice President – Investments, UBS Financial Services

Christopher Holtby, CPWA®, Wealth Advisor Trust Company, explains the competencies the CPWA certification have given him.

Here’s how the CIMA and CPWA certifications stack up against other well-respected industry credentials.

Sponsoring organization CFP Board of Standards Investments & Wealth Institute Investments & Wealth Institute CFA Institute
Ideal for Financial planners Investment advisors, managers, and consultants Financial planners and advisors who work with high-net-worth clients Portfolio managers and securities analysts
Curriculum focus Financial planning: insurance, investment, tax, and estate planning Discretionary investment management: investment policy and plan design, portfolio construction, investment fundamentals and advanced theory, behavioral finance Advanced wealth management:  Planning strategies for high- net-worth individuals, asset protection, tax and estate planning, legacy planning Investment expertise across all asset classes, economics, accounting, corporate finance, and portfolio management
Typical time commitment 18 months 9 months 7 months 3 years
Minimum work experience requirement 3 years
3 years
5 years
4 years (investment)
Exams required 1 2[1] 1 3
Education requirement with top business schools No Yes Yes No
Adherence to code of standards/ethics Yes Yes Yes Yes
Renewal period 1 year 2 years 2 years 1 year
Continuing Competency Requirement Required Required Required Optional
[1] There will be one required CIMA exam beginning in 2018.