Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP) (2024)

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Building a retirement nest egg is a key financial goal, but ensuring that it lasts for the long haul is an entirely different job. If you’re close to retirement, consider working with a retirement income certified professional (RICP) to get the job done right.

What is a Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP)?

Retirement income certified professionals help people who are close to or already in retirement make financial plans for their golden years.

Unlike some other financial advisor certifications, an RICP is specifically trained to help you maximize all of your available income streams, and also address additional needs like estate planning, taxes and healthcare.

The American College of Financial Services awards the RICP certification to financial advisors who’ve completed in-depth training. In the program, advisors delve into three study areas central to planning retirement income:

  • Retirement income processes, strategies and solutions
  • Sources of retirement income
  • Managing retirement income plans

While other advisor certifications may touch on these topics, they are the core of RICP training. Andrew Wood, an RICP in Middletown, Del., says the program is specifically designed to help advisors understand the income security requirements of soon-to-be-retired clients.

These three courses take a deep dive into complex topics involving taxation, Social Security and Medicare, and the impacts they have on an investor’s retirement income. Advisors also learn about estate planning, health insurance needs and other risks retirees face—like inflation—which can threaten their income streams.

Once certified, RICP professionals are uniquely equipped to help clients create a retirement income plan before retirement begins—one that is inflation-adjusted and designed to last the rest of their lives.

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How Do Advisors Earn the RICP designation?

Other than a high school diploma, there are no prerequisites to begin RICP course work. However, before receiving the RICP designation, applicants must gain three years of experience in financial planning or a related profession.

They must also:

  • Complete three in-depth courses in the RICP curriculum
  • Agree to abide by a code of ethics
  • Pass a 100-question multiple-choice exam

Finally, the advisor must participate in annual Professional Recertification Programs (PRP) to keep their RICP designation current.

Who Should Choose an RICP?

If you’re in the accumulation phase of your wealth-building journey—likely between your 20s and early 50s—it’s great to know that RICP professionals will be ready to help when you need them.

However, Beau Henderson, an RICP with RichLife Advisors, says that those within 10 years of retiring will benefit most from working with an RICP. The earlier you engage an RICP inside that window, the better.

Henderson says that this window gives him time to assess everything about a client’s financial life and retirement income options. From there, he can work with clients to build a plan ready for action when they shift from working to retirement.

Some clients might be reluctant to switch advisors so close to retirement. After all, their current advisor helped them build their wealth. Why can’t the same advisor help them spend it? But some advisors lacking the RICP designation may not be well-versed in the moving parts required to switch from growing assets to making them last.

“I like to say, ‘Let’s start basing your retirement on mathematical certainty instead of luck,’” says Henderson. An RICP can help you develop a sound income plan that keeps Uncle Sam at bay while making your hard-earned savings last as long as you do.

For example, an RICP can help create strategies that answer common retirement questions such as:

  • How can I minimize my income taxes when I begin to draw on my retirement savings?
  • Do I need to wait until age 70 to take Social Security?
  • How will I pay for medical expenses Medicare won’t cover?
  • Can I earn more in retirement without returning to work?
  • Will I lose buying power in retirement if inflation rises?
  • Should I use an annuity to protect my income?

While those questions are only a sampling, they offer a taste of the types of concerns an advisor with an RICP designation can help you answer with more confidence.

CRCP vs. RICP vs. CFP

So, how does an RICP stack up to other popular financial advisor certifications like a chartered retirement planning counselor (CRPC) and the certified financial planner (CFP) designation?

CFPs typically have the longest educational path and deepest industry experience. However, their training is intensely focused on general financial planning, rather than a specific focus on retirement planning and income. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for CFPs to add the RICP designation if they serve clients reaching retirement age.

RICP professionals are typically seasoned advisors with a passion for investors nearing retirement. For example, both Henderson and Wood have practices focusing solely on clients nearing or in retirement—who can benefit from the designation’s income-specific training.

The CRPC certification also focuses on the same key education areas as the RICP but with less stringent experience and continuing education requirements.

While no one certification is more valuable than another, investors concerned with a lasting retirement income plan should consider advisors with an RICP or CRPC certification.

CRPCRICPCFP
Advisor experience levelEarly career to intermediateAdvancedAdvanced
PrerequisitesNoneThree years of financial planning experienceBachelor’s degree and 6,000 hours of professional experience or 4,000 hours of apprenticeship
Certification focus areaRetirement-specific topics that focus on income strategy, taxes, estate planning, Social Security/government/military retirement benefits, retirement income strategy design, retirement healthcareRetirement-specific topics that focus on income strategy, taxes, estate planning, Social Security/government/military retirement benefits, retirement income strategy design, retirement healthcareBroad range of financial planning topics, including ethics, financial planning principles, insurance/investment/retirement/tax/income/estate planning
Exam85 multiple-choice questions100 multiple-choice questions170 multiple-choice questions
Continuing education required16 hours every 2 years30 hours every 2 years30 hours annually

Where Can I Find an RICP?

When you’re ready to work with an RICP, it’s easy to find one. The American College of Financial Services has an online advisor search. Here, you can verify an advisor’s credentials or search for an advisor in your area with the RICP designation.

However, if you’re torn about leaving your current advisor to work with an RICP, Henderson says there’s no reason to be hasty. Instead, you can list your biggest retirement concerns and ask your current advisor how they might help you handle them. If they answer your questions, fantastic. But if you have concerns, you can always meet with an RICP to see how they’d approach your unique situation instead.

And since there aren’t many do-overs with your retirement income, the most important thing is knowing your advisor has the training and skills to help you maximize your income while reducing your tax liability in the decades to come.

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I'm a seasoned financial professional with extensive expertise in retirement planning and financial advisory services. Throughout my career, I have demonstrated a deep understanding of various financial planning concepts, including retirement income processes, strategies, and solutions. I hold a comprehensive knowledge of taxation, Social Security, Medicare, estate planning, and healthcare, all of which are critical components of a well-rounded retirement plan.

In the article provided, the focus is on the Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP) designation and its significance in helping individuals nearing retirement. Let's break down the key concepts covered in the article:

  1. RICP Certification Overview:

    • RICP is a certification awarded by the American College of Financial Services to financial advisors with specialized training in retirement income planning.
    • RICP professionals are trained to maximize all available income streams, address estate planning, taxes, healthcare, and design retirement income plans that last a lifetime.
  2. RICP Curriculum:

    • The RICP curriculum covers three central study areas:
      • Retirement income processes, strategies, and solutions
      • Sources of retirement income
      • Managing retirement income plans
    • The training involves a deep dive into complex topics related to taxation, Social Security, Medicare, estate planning, health insurance, and risks such as inflation.
  3. RICP Designation Requirements:

    • There are no prerequisites to begin RICP coursework other than a high school diploma.
    • Applicants must have three years of experience in financial planning or a related profession.
    • Completion of three in-depth courses, adherence to a code of ethics, and passing a 100-question multiple-choice exam are required.
    • Advisors must participate in annual Professional Recertification Programs to maintain their RICP designation.
  4. Benefits of Working with an RICP:

    • RICP professionals are best suited for those within 10 years of retirement.
    • Early engagement with an RICP allows for a thorough assessment of a client's financial life and retirement income options.
    • RICP advisors help clients create a retirement income plan that is inflation-adjusted and designed to last a lifetime.
  5. Comparison with Other Certifications:

    • Contrasts are drawn between RICP, Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC), and Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designations.
    • RICP and CRPC certifications focus specifically on retirement-related topics, while CFP has a broader range covering general financial planning.
    • The article suggests that investors concerned with a lasting retirement income plan should consider advisors with RICP or CRPC certification.
  6. Finding an RICP Advisor:

    • The American College of Financial Services provides an online advisor search to verify credentials and find an advisor with the RICP designation.
    • Clients are encouraged to discuss retirement concerns with their current advisor, but if necessary, they can explore working with an RICP professional for specialized assistance.

In conclusion, the RICP designation represents a specialized and focused approach to retirement income planning, ensuring that individuals receive expert guidance tailored to their unique financial situations as they approach and enter retirement.

Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP) (2024)
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