What Is a Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist?

Definition & Examples of a CRPS

Couple meeting with retirement planner

A Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist (CRPS) is someone who is certified to help businesses implement and maintain retirement plans for their owners and employees. Unlike Certified Financial Planners (CFPs), they work with business clients instead of only individuals or families.

The financial industry is full of acronyms, but CRPS is one of the newest in the industry. Learn more about how these financial planners are trained and when you might want to work with one.

What Is a Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist?

The CRPS designation is for professionals who want to either focus on or broaden their knowledge of retirement planning. This designation is for advisors focusing on creating and administering retirement plans for businesses and wholesale clients rather than individuals.

  • Acronym: CRPS

Businesses that wish to implement a retirement plan for employees will likely meet with a CRPS to review options and logistics for plans such as 401(k)s, SEP IRAs, and SIMPLE IRAs. They are specially trained in the specifics of implementing these plans on a large scale.

What a CRPS Does

A Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist earns their certification through the College for Financial Planning—the same governing body that issues the well-known CFP designation.

Topics addressed in the program include the types and characteristics of retirement plans, IRAs, SEP, SIMPLE, 401(k), and defined benefit plans, to name a few. The program also includes coursework geared toward nonprofit and government plans, qualified and IRA distributions, plan design, installation, and administration, and fiduciary issues.

Passing this coursework enables the CRPS to work with any employer looking to offer such plans.

The College for Financial Planning requires CRPS-certified advisors to pursue 16 hours of continuing education and renew their certification every two years

Who Should Work With a CRPS?

What if you’re not looking to become a CRPS but you want to find the right person to help you with your retirement planning? Because the CRPS designation is for professionals who want to work with businesses, you as an individual would not look for this designation before hiring somebody to put together your personal retirement plan. You’re likely in the market for a Certified Financial Planner.

If you’re a business owner or HR professional tasked with creating a retirement plan or upgrading your current company plan, a CRPS designation might indicate that a specific financial advisor is better qualified to create and administer a plan.

There is more to picking an advisor than just designations. Ask for references, discuss their pricing structure, and when creating a plan that will impact all of your employees’ financial future, get more than one proposal. If you don’t have experience evaluating financial services providers, get help from somebody who does.

Alternative Financial Planning Certifications

If you are looking for help in retirement planning, but not pursuing it through an employer, there are still several types of certifications you can look for to make sure your advisor is trustworthy. Here are just a few:

  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP): This is the most general certification that many financial advisors pursue. It indicates that they have completed a broad range of training and demonstrated aptitude across an array of financial planning topics.
  • Certified Fund Specialist (CFS): These financial planners specialize in mutual funds and helping clients apply effective fund planning strategies.
  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC): Similar to a CFP designation, this certification also requires an additional three years of work in the financial industry.
  • Personal Financial Specialist (PFS): This certification is granted to Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) who pursue training in financial planning on top of their accounting credentials.
  • Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC): This designation is basically a version of the CRPS for those who work with individuals instead of businesses.

Key Takeaways

  • A Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist (CRPS) is certified to work with businesses in developing and implementing their retirement plans.
  • These planners go through initial training along with continuing education and re-certification every two years.
  • If you're an individual looking for retirement plan help, you'll work with a Certified Financial Planner or another type of financial advisor certified to work with individuals.