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RMA Program FAQs

Frequently asked questions for candidates seeking the RMA certification.


Who is the RMA certification designed for?

Ideal candidates for the RMA Certification Program include wealth managers and specialists, financial planners, investment consultants and advisors, retirement specialists, family office professionals, trust professionals, tax and estate professionals.

What are the benefits of earning the RMA certification?

  • Product-Neutral Learning: The program provides a unique mix of academic validation and practical application through a client-centered, “outcomes-based” approach, rather than what most retirement education programs teach which tilt towards investment planning or product solutions.
  • Practical Tools, Techniques and Methodologies: The Procedural Prudence Map™ is one of many practical tools that help advisors map a decision-making process that complies with fiduciary best practices for client recommendations. The result is a body of knowledge and skills that helps advisors to satisfy their clients’ retirement income needs while complying with the industry’s increasing regulations. 
  • Flexible, Stackable Learning: The program is completed in three stages (or levels). Learners may elect to complete just 1) the online course and receive a certificate of completion, or advance through 2) the capstone course and 3) the final exam to receive the RMA certification.

  • Premier quality education and real-world application: The RMA program features a balanced lineup of expert practitioners and academics, with the focus on real-world application.

What are the requirements to obtain the RMA?

Financial services professionals with three years relevant experience or acceptable designations (CIMA®, CPWA®, CFP®, CFA®, ChFC, RIPC) and adhering to the Institute Code of Professional Responsibility are eligible to register for the first level online course or the bundle of all three levels.

Why would I pursue the RMA if I already have my CFP, CIMA, or CPWA certifications?

RMA is considered a “post-CFP, post-CIMA, post-CPWA" certification when it specifically comes to retirement-income planning. Each of these credentials addresses some elements of retirement planning, but usually in the context of other financial or wealth advice. The RMA is retirement-income specific, with an emphasis on advising your clients through the realities of changing from an accumulation mindset to a decumulation mindset. Additionally, the RMA builds on your previous certifications by providing academically backed, practical set of decision-making processes that can be used “off-the-shelf” in your practice today.

What does the program entail? 

The Retirement Management Advisor® (RMA) program is an advanced certificate program and pathway to certification that focuses on building custom retirement income plans to mitigate clients’ risks and to master the retirement planning advisory process, all within the increasing regulatory environment. RMA education equips certificants with the knowledge needed to speak the language of retirement-focused clients and teaches how to build a plan that includes the option of a safety-first approach— something a pure accumulation mindset does not address.

What are subjects that will be covered?


Client Diagnostic Kit

  1. Client Planning Process—Client planning process, retirement phases, advisors' styles, “gamma," measures of fundedness
  2. The Household Balance Sheet—Household balance sheet, financial, social and human capital, start of life-cycle plan
  3. Household Cash Flows—Fixed and discretionary expenses, tax-bracket planning, retirement milestones, Medicare and Long-term care, Social Security, pensions, complete life-cycle plan

Retirement Allocation

  1. Assessing Retirement Risks—Retiree risk profiles, risk management techniques, floor allocation, probability-based and safety-first strategies

RMA Toolbox

  1. Risk Management Allocations—Retirement allocations, withdrawal strategies, time segmentation, retirement policy statements
  2. Account Location/Product Selections—Product selection, account location, income annuities

Practice Management

  1. Presenting & Monitoring the PlanMethods for planning, transparent and trustworthy advisory practice, aligning client situation with planning methodology
  2. Professional GuidelinesInvestments & Wealth Institute’s Code of Professional Responsibility, marks usage, legal and regulatory compliance

What are the competencies I will have after my coursework is completed?

The ability to build custom retirement income plans to mitigate clients’ risks and to master the retirement planning advisory process.

How long does it take to complete RMA certification?

The Level I online course takes approximately nine weeks of self-study to complete. Level II is a two-day in-person experience. The exam is three hours, but we anticipate it may take a candidate approximately 10-12 hours of preparatory study.

If I obtain the RMA, what ongoing obligation for continuing education will I have?

Like other Institute certifications, the RMA certification requires 40 credits every two years. Continuing education content that is approved for CIMA® and CPWA® is also approved for RMA®.

What do RMA designees say about the certification?

“In the process of preparing for and taking the RMA exam, I realized how much I’ve learned about retirement planning that I never before understood. This approach is not just more comprehensive, it places a sharp focus on the risk-management techniques that both advisors and retirees really need to understand and implement. I believe that any practitioner who is concerned about succeeding in retirement planning would benefit enormously from the practical insights conveyed by the RMA program."
~ David Macchia

“I can already tell how the RMA coursework has changed the way I perceive my client’s risks exposures and how the “safety first” mantra of RMA is permeating everything I do. I believe that as time passes and the retiree population grows further there will be an increasing desire to utilize income experts and retirement savvy planners. Additionally, I believe that the RMA coursework puts me at an advantage when it comes to speaking to clients concisely about their retirement needs and puts me on the cutting edge of retirement portfolio construction.”
~Lucas Minton

“Up until now there hasn’t been any formal training available to teach advisors the important differences between planning for accumulation and planning for retirement income. The RMA program is changing that. They developed a specialized curriculum one studies to become an RMA, or Retirement Management Advisor®. The material is fabulous and offers a tremendous amount of insight into the difference between accumulating assets and ‘decumulating’ assets.”
~ Dana Anspach

How much does it cost?           

The course is a stackable credential, so you can take the levels separately or together. If you want to become an RMA candidate, (the process includes the online course including the printed textbook [a $155 value], Capstone, and certification exam), the price is $2,495 for members and for non-members, the price is $2,995. You can also choose to purchase membership when you apply to be an RMA candidate, for $2,890.

You can choose to take only Level I (the online course) for $1,395 if you're a member. The price of the Capstone varies, but you can find out more information about it here. Institute Membership is $395 annually, if you don't already hold one of our certifications, and includes blog content and Retirement Management Journal, as well as the Institute publications, the Journal of Investment Consulting, the Investments & Wealth Monitor and discounts on our programs.

How do I register/enroll?

For more information or to register, click here.