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Dowling & Yahnke boasts a team of professionals who adhere to the highest standard in customer service and industry knowledge. Accordingly, our staff has earned a number of industry certifications that confirm their level of knowledge and understanding.

CFA - Chartered Financial Analyst

The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation is a globally respected, graduate-level investment credential established in 1962 and awarded by the CFA Institute, the largest global association of investment professionals.

There are currently more than 135,000 CFA charterholders working in 150 countries. To earn the CFA designation, candidates must (1) pass three sequential, six-hour examinations, (2) have at least four years of qualified professional investment experience, (3) join the CFA Institute as members, and (4) commit to abide by, and annually reaffirm, their adherence to the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct.

High Ethical Standards

The CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct, enforced through an active professional conduct program, requires CFA charterholders to:

  • Place their clients' interests ahead of their own

  • Maintain independence and objectivity

  • Act with integrity

  • Maintain and improve their professional competence

  • Disclose conflicts of interest and legal matters

Global Recognition

Passing the three CFA exams is a difficult feat that requires extensive study (successful candidates report spending an average of 300 hours of study at each level). Earning the CFA charter demonstrates mastery of many of the advanced skills needed for investment analysis and decision-making in today's quickly evolving global financial industry. As a result, employers and clients are increasingly seeking CFA charterholders, often making the charter a prerequisite for employment.

Additionally, regulatory bodies in 28 countries recognize the CFA charter as a proxy for meeting certain licensing requirements. More than 300 colleges and universities around the world have incorporated a majority of the CFA Program curriculum into their own finance courses.

Comprehensive and Current Knowledge

The CFA Program curriculum provides a comprehensive framework of knowledge for investment decision making and is firmly grounded in the knowledge and skills used every day in the investment profession. The three levels of the CFA Program test proficiency in a wide range of fundamental and advanced investment topics, including ethical and professional standards, fixed-income and equity analysis, alternative and derivative investments, economics, financial reporting standards, portfolio management, and wealth planning.

The CFA Program curriculum is updated every year by experts from around the world to ensure that candidates learn the most relevant and practical new tools, ideas, and investment management skills to reflect the dynamic and complex nature of the profession.

To learn more about the CFA charter, visit


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The CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) certification is a voluntary certification that is recognized in the United States and a number of other countries for its (1) high standard of professional education, (2) stringent code of conduct and standards of practice, and (3) ethical requirements that govern professional engagements with clients. Currently, more than 73,000 individuals have obtained CFP® certification in the United States.

To attain the right to use the CFP® marks, an individual must satisfactorily fulfill the following requirements:

  • Education Requirement:  Complete an advanced college‐level course of study addressing the financial planning subject areas that CFP Board’s studies have determined as necessary for the competent and professional delivery of financial planning services, and attain a Bachelor’s Degree from a regionally accredited United States college or university (or its equivalent from a foreign university). CFP Board’s financial planning subject areas include insurance planning and risk management, employee benefits planning, investment planning, income tax planning, retirement planning, and estate planning;

  • CFP®  Certification Examination Requirement:  The examination, administered in two three hour sessions over one day, includes case studies and client scenarios designed to test one’s ability to correctly diagnose financial planning issues and apply one’s knowledge of financial planning to real world circumstances;

  • Experience Requirement:  Complete a minimum of three years of full-time financial planning-related experience (or the equivalent, measured as 2,000 hours per year); and

  • Ethics Requirement:  Agree to be bound by CFP Board's Standards of Professional Conduct, a set of documents outlining the ethical and practice standards for CFP® professionals.

Ethics and Continuing Education (CE)

Individuals who become certified must complete the following ongoing education and ethics requirements in order to maintain the right to continue to use the CFP® marks:

  • Complete thirty hours of continuing education hours every two years, including two hours related to the Code of Ethics and other parts of the Standards of Professional Conduct, to maintain competence and keep up with developments in the financial planning field; and

  • Renew an agreement to be bound by the Standards of Professional Conduct. The Standards prominently require that CFP® professionals provide financial planning services at a fiduciary standard of care. This means CFP® professionals must provide financial planning services in the best interests of their clients.

CFP® and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ are certification marks owned by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, LLC. These marks are awarded to individuals who successfully complete the CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.

To learn more about CFP® certification, visit


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CDFA® - Chartered Divorce Financial Analyst®

The Chartered Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA®) designation is issued by The Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts (IDFA™), which is a national organization dedicated to the certification, education, and promotion of the use of financial professionals in the divorce arena.

Founded in 1993, IDFA™ provides specialized training to accounting, financial, and legal professionals in the field of pre-divorce financial planning. Over the years, IDFATM has certified more than 5,000 professionals in the U.S. and Canada as Certified Divorce Financial Analysts® (CDFAs®).

The CDFA® designation is available to individuals who have a minimum of two years experience as a financial professional, accountant, or family lawyer.

To acquire the designation, candidates must successfully pass all exams and be in good standing with their broker dealer (if applicable) and the FINRA/SEC or other licensing or regulatory agency.

To earn the designation, the participant must complete a series of self-study course modules and pass an examination for each module. The American module topics are:

  • Financial and legal issues of divorce

  • Advanced financial issues of divorce

  • Tax issues of divorce

  • Working as a CDFA®: case studies

Continued Education (CE)

To retain the Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® designation, a CDFA® must obtain twenty hours of Continuing Education (CE) every two years (ten of which must be divorce-related), remain in good standing with the IDFA™, and keep his/her dues current.

CDFA® is a certification owned by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts™. This designation is awarded to individuals who successfully complete the IDFA™ initial and ongoing certification requirements.

To learn more about the CDFA® designation, visit


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CPA - Certified Public Accountant

Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is the statutory title of qualified accountants in the United States who have passed the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination (Uniform CPA Exam) and have met additional state education and experience requirements for certification as a CPA. The CPA was established in law in 1896. The requirements for licensure as a CPA, which are set by each state board of accountancy, include completing a program of study in accounting at a college or university, passing the Uniform CPA Exam, and obtaining a specific amount of professional work experience in public accounting (the required amount and type of experience varies according to licensing jurisdiction).

One of the world’s leading licensing examinations, the Uniform CPA Examination, serves to protect the public interest by helping to ensure that only qualified individuals become licensed as CPAs. The Uniform CPA Exam is set by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and administered by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. Eligibility to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam is determined by individual state boards of accountancy. Typically, the requirement is a U.S. bachelor’s degree including a minimum number of qualifying credit hours in accounting and business administration with an additional one year study.

The subject matter areas covered by the Uniform CPA Exam include:

  • Auditing and Attestation - Planning the engagement, internal controls, obtaining and documenting information, reviewing engagements and evaluating information, and preparing communications.

  • Financial Accounting and Reporting - Concepts and standards for financial statements, typical items in financial statements, specific types of transactions and events, accounting and reporting for governmental agencies, and accounting and reporting for non-governmental and not-for-profit organizations.

  • Regulation - Ethics and professional responsibility, business law, Federal tax procedures and accounting issues, Federal taxation of property transactions, Federal taxation – individuals, and Federal taxation – entities.

  • Business Environment and Concepts - Business structures, economic concepts, financial management, information technology, and planning and measurement.

The Uniform CPA Exam tests primarily understanding and the ability to apply authoritative literature—such as auditing and accounting standards, the Uniform Commercial Code, and the Internal Revenue Code—that are universally adopted by all U.S. jurisdictions or are federal in nature.

Ethics and Continuing Professional Education (CPE)

Over 40 of the state boards of accountancy now require applicants for CPA status to complete a special examination on ethics. Many states require that the ethics course include a review of that state's specific rules for professional practice.

CPAs are required to take continuing education courses in order to renew their license. Requirements vary by state, but the majority of states require 120 hours of CPE every three years with a minimum of 20 hours per calendar year. As part of the CPE requirement, most states require their CPAs to take an ethics course during every renewal period.

To learn more about the CPA; designation, visit


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IACCP® - Investment Advisor Certified Compliance Professional

The first industry designation of its kind, the Investment Adviser Certified Compliance Professional (IACCP®), was developed by the Center for Compliance Professionals, the education and professional development division of National Regulatory Services (NRS), a resource closely in tune with the changing complexity of the financial securities compliance profession and provider of compliance education for over 20 years.

The IACCP® is awarded to knowledgeable, experienced individuals who complete an instructor-led program of face-to-face and online study, pass a certifying examination, and meet work experience, ethics and continuing education requirements. The designation signifies knowledge of investment adviser regulation and compliance best practice, and adherence to national recognized professional standards and ethical leadership.

Exhaustive certification and course development, together with expert instructors and facilitators from the compliance, legal, regulatory, industry, and academic sectors, help ensure that individuals earning the IACCP® designation have been trained, tested and certified to meet high industry professional standards.

IACCP® is a certification owned by the Investment Adviser Compliance Certificate Program®. This certification is awarded to individuals who successfully complete the program's initial and ongoing certification requirements.

To learn more about the IACCP® designation, visit


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Master Planner Advanced StudiesSM

Individuals who hold the MPAS® designation have completed a Master of Science degree with a major in personal financial planning or financial analysis. The program consists of 36-43 semester credits and delves deeply into personal financial planning or investment-related content using research-based coursework and real-world case studies. Graduates of the program are required to demonstrate critical thinking skills and complex problem-solving techniques. Additionally, individuals must complete assignments, projects, research, and papers and meet all graduation requirements for the Master of Science degree.

Ethics and Continuing Education

All designees have agreed to adhere to Standards of Professional Conduct and are subject to a disciplinary process.

Designees renew their designation every two-years by completing 40 hours of content-specific continuing education, reaffirming adherence to the Standards of Professional Conduct and complying with self-disclosure requirements.

To learn more about the MPAS® designation, visit their website.


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ChFC® - Chartered Financial Consultant®

The ChFC® designation has been a mark of excellence for financial planners for almost thirty years and currently requires more courses than any other financial planning credential. The curriculum covers extensive education and application training in all aspects of financial planning, income taxation, investments, and estate and retirement planning.

To attain the right to use the ChFC® marks, an individual must satisfactorily fulfill the following requirements:

  • Education Requirements:  ChFC® candidates must complete nine college-level courses, seven required and two electives. The required courses include Financial Planning: Process and EnvironmentFundamentals of Insurance PlanningIncome TaxationPlanning for Retirement NeedsInvestments; Fundamentals of Estate Planning; and Financial Planning Applications.

  • ChFC® Examination Requirements:  Nine closed-book, course-specific, two-hour proctored exams;

  • Experience Requirements:  Candidates are required to have three-years of full-time, relevant business experience; and

  • Ethics Requirements:  Must adhere to The American College’s Code of Ethics, which includes the following professional pledge: “I shall, in light of all conditions surrounding those I serve, which I shall make every conscientious effort to ascertain and understand, render that service which, in the same circumstances, I would apply to myself.”

Continuing Education 

To retain the Chartered Financial Consultant® designation, a ChFC® must obtain thirty hours of continuing education every two years.

To learn more about the ChFC® designation, visit and


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CLU® - Chartered Life Underwriter®

The CLU® designation is one of the oldest and most respected credentials in financial services, dating back to the late 1920s. It represents a thorough understanding of a broad array of personal risk management and life insurance planning issues and stresses ethics, professionalism, and in-depth knowledge in the delivery of financial advice.

To attain the right to use the CLU® marks, an individual must satisfactorily fulfill the following requirements:

  • Education Requirements:  CLU® candidates must complete eight college-level courses, five required and three electives. The required courses include Fundamentals of Insurance PlanningIndividual Life Insurance; Life Insurance LawFundamentals of Estate Planning; and Planning for Business Owners and Professionals. Elective topics cover financial planning, health insurance, income taxation, group benefits, investments, and retirement planning.

  • CLU® Examination Requirements:  Eight closed-book, course-specific, two-hour proctored exams;

  • Experience Requirements:  Candidates are required to have three-years of full-time, relevant business experience; and

  • Ethics Requirements:  Must adhere to The American College’s Code of Ethics, which includes the following professional pledge: “I shall, in light of all conditions surrounding those I serve, which I shall make every conscientious effort to ascertain and understand, render that service which, in the same circumstances, I would apply to myself.”

Continuing Education 

To retain the Chartered Life Underwriter® designation, a CLU® must obtain thirty hours of continuing education every two years.

To learn more about the CLU® designation, visit and


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CPWA® - Certified Private Wealth Advisor®

The CPWA® designation signifies that an individual has met initial and on-going experience, ethical, education, and examination requirements for the professional designation, which is centered on private wealth management topics and strategies for high-net-worth clients. The designation is administered through Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA).

To attain the right to use the CPWA® marks, an individual must satisfactorily fulfill the following requirements:

  • Prerequisites for the CPWA® designation:  a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university or one of the following designations or licenses: CIMA®, CIMC ®, CFA®, CFP®, ChFC®, or CPA license; have an acceptable regulatory history as evidenced by FINRA Form U-4 or other regulatory requirements and five years of experience in financial services or delivering services to high-net-worth clients.

  • CPWA® Examination Requirements:  complete a rigorous educational process that includes self-study requirements, an in-class education component, and successful completion of a comprehensive examination.

  • Ethics Requirements:  adhere to IMCA’s Code of Professional Responsibility and Rules and Guidelines for Use of the Marks.

To retain the Certified Private Wealth Advisor® designation, a CPWA® designee must report 40 hours of continuing education credits, including two ethics hours, every two years.

To learn more about the CPWA® designation, visit the IMCA website.

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