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PFP developments and tools.

PFP DEVELOPMENTS AND TOOLS

Personal financial planning (PFP) is a practice area of constant change and growth; this column provides information about change and growth in the areas of investment advisory services, retirement and insurance planning and accreditation. Here is information about the expansion of PFP into the investment advisory area, including the debut of the AICPA's virtual Center for Investment Advisory Services; information on building resources for dealing with clients' retirement planning concerns; and information on developments that affect CPAs' access to the personal financial specialist (PFS) accreditation.

New Center for Investment Advisory Services Supports CPAs

The AICPA has launched a new Center for Investment Advisory Services that facilitates members expanding their financial planning practices to include providing investment advice. The Center for Investment Advisory Services is a cluster of resources that enables AICPA members and their firms to get the tools, training, resources and relationships they need to provide investment advisory services to clients.

The Center helps CPAs to move into financial planning in a way that retains clients and lets practitioners build equity in their own businesses. It provides CPAs with practical help in building a practice, whether they are just entering the field or are already experienced practitioners.

Through the Center, the AICPA continues to promote CPAs, particularly PFSs, as trusted business advisers. The Center's services prepare CPAs and firms to maintain high standards as they take on the role of investment adviser. It also provides continuing support to CPAs in that role.

The Center integrates the AICPA's vast internal resources with strategic relationships that the Institute has developed with carefully selected external organizations and vendors. The Center provides:

* Training to help members prepare for securities licensing exams;

* Tools, products and services to facilitate both initial registration as an investment adviser and ongoing compliance with governing regulations;

* Courses to develop a working knowledge of investment policy, the asset allocation process, performance measurement and evaluation, and account manager search and selection;

* Asset allocation software and other software aids; and

* Mutual funds research.

AICPA Strategic Partners Develop Offerings

By forging relationships with them, the AICPA was able to arrange for extremely competitive and attractive pricing. Negotiations are underway to add more tools and services, including portfolio management software, custody and clearing services, and marketing aids.

All the Center's offerings enable AICPA members to plan and implement investment strategies without having to become affiliated with broker/dealers. The Center does not provide any investment advisory services. (In particular, the AICPA does not manage money.) Nor does it merely provide members with a "short list" of turnkey asset manager programs. The Center is designed to facilitate delivery of services to clients. It is not intended for use in managing a CPA's own investments.

On an ongoing basis, the Center will oversee and administer relationships, explore new options for products and services, and support quality control.

For more information about the Center and those services currently available, visit the Center's website, http://investmentadvisory.aicpa.org. Updates to the site will introduce new features. In addition, AICPA staff is available to furnish more information about the Center's programs and services at 1-877-66-AICPA.

Retirement Planning and Insurance Planning: Social Security and Medicare

Clients commonly expect that their tax practitioners, as experts in dealing with the IRS, are also expert at dealing with other Federal agencies that affect their finances. In particular, clients often bring questions about Social Security and Medicare to their tax advisers. Providing answers not only satisfies clients, it also leads to opportunities to deliver retirement planning and insurance planning services.

Information, forms, publications and software related to Social Security are available at the Social Security Administration's (SSA) website, www.ssa.gov. Anyone planning for retirement will be interested in a projection of future Social Security benefits, which can be. obtained by filing Form 7004, Personal Statement Request, with the SSA. The form is downloadable from the website. Also, single copies can be obtained by calling 1-800-SSA-1213.

The SSA produces a number of pamphlets helpful to clients, including, pamphlets on retirement and on disability benefits, and pamphlets with information for survivors. To order pamphlets in bulk, contact the SSA at Department of Public Affairs, Distribution Center, P.O. Box 17743, Baltimore, MD 21235, or 1-301-965-0945 or fax 1-301-965-0696.

The website for Medicare information is www.medicare.gov. The site has a Medigap Compare section, which contains information on Medigap insurance policies, including information on rating methods and tips on shopping for Medigap plans. The Guide to Health Insurance for People with Medicare is posted on the site.

AICPA Studies New Approaches to PFS Accreditation

The PFS accreditation is the financial planning specialty accreditation held exclusively by certified public accountants who are members of the AICPA. A CPA must demonstrate experience and expertise in a wide range of personal financial matters before being awarded the PFS.

The PFS was the first accreditation instituted by AICPA; the second was the Business Valuation accreditation. Recently, a third accreditation for CPAs in information technology (IT) was approved by the AICPA.

In contrast to the requirements that apply to a CPA seeking the PFS accreditation, a CPA seeking the new IT accreditation is not necessarily required to take an examination. The centerpiece of the new IT accreditation is a "point system" an innovative approach designed to allow for flexibility of entry into the program by both newer and seasoned CPA IT professionals.

The point system is based on business experience, life-long learning and examination. There are minimum requirements for both business experience and life-long learning; an examination is required for those who do not achieve sufficient points through these two requirements.

The PFP Executive Committee is working with the National Accreditation Commission, a new senior AICPA committee, in considering a "point system" similar to the IT accreditation model to foster greater flexibility of entry into the PFS accreditation program.

The PFP Executive Committee is receiving expert advice on this issue from the PFS Credential and Exam Committee. All members of the Credential and Exam Committee are PFSs, and many of them have held the accreditation from its earliest days.

For further information about PFS accreditation and the latest information about qualifying for the accreditation, write to pfs@aicpa.org.

Editor's note: Sarah Phelan is Technical Manager of the AICPA Personal Financial Planning Team.

The author's views, as expressed in this column, do not necessarily reflect the views of the AICPA. Official positions are determined through certain specified committee prodecures, due process and deliberation.

If you would like further information about this article, contact Ms. Phelan at (201) 938-3717 or sphelan@aicpa.org.
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Title Annotation:personal financial planning
Author:Phelan, Sarah
Publication:The Tax Adviser
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2000
Words:1096
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