The Certified Retirement Counselor® (CRC) certification is independently accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Of over 100 financial designations, the CRC® is one of only a very few retirement and financial planning-related certifications independently accredited by the NCCA.
Why is it important to choose an accredited credential?
There can be a substantial difference between what may be a non-academically based certificate offered by an accredited institution of higher learning, and an academically-based certification that meets rigorous independent third-party, “program accreditation” standards. Although “institutional accreditation” is an appropriate and valid means of ensuring the public that institutions of higher education meet certain standards, “program accreditation” is a long and rigorous process specific to the certification program itself. It may take up to two years for a certification program to become accredited while completing a process that includes creating an up-to-date comprehensive practice analysis, linking the practice analysis to a psychometrically valid and reliable assessment instrument/exam and submitting a comprehensive application.
The Certified Retirement Counselor® (CRC®) certification meets the highest of these standards, including, but not limited to:
- Exam design that assesses the competency of the professional (versus knowledge only), using psychometrically acceptable and defensible testing instruments and procedures
- Adherence to a code of ethics
- A disciplinary process overseen by an independent Board of Standards
- Recertification requirements that require professionals to keep their knowledge current
Why did InFRE pursue higher standards to achieve accreditation for the Certified Retirement Counselor (CRC®) certification?
Accreditation of designations with required professional standards is the best approach to ensure protection of the public interest, but it is a challenging process and many organizations may not achieve the high standards that are required.
InFRE is keenly aware of its responsibility to maintain its role as the pre-eminent certification in the field of retirement counseling. In light of this responsibility and recent regulatory developments regarding the use of “senior designations”, InFRE has recognized that independent accreditation is the right thing to do to distinguish the CRC® among other retirement-oriented designations. After successfully completing the lengthy accreditation process, InFRE was able to demonstrate that the CRC® met the professional standards determined by the National Commission of Certifying Agencies (NCCA).
Accreditation is also an indication to consumers that all who hold an accredited certification possess an appropriate level of knowledge and competency pertaining to their profession. Independent accreditation is an important way to distinguish between a “certification” designed to help prepare retirement counselors to competently address retirement issues and a “designation” that may only indicate completion of a course. InFRE’s independent third-party “program” accreditation signifies that CRC® Certificants are an elite group of qualified retirement professionals among the array of retirement-related designations available today.
What do accreditation standards include?
Accreditation requires a certification to be structured and governed in a way appropriate for the profession and that ensures autonomy in decision making over essential certification activities. The exam is based on the domains of knowledge and tasks determined in an industry practice analysis and generally accepted psychometric principles. The certification program must also demonstrate that its recertification requirements measure or enhance the continued competence of Certificants. NCCA uses a peer review process to establish accreditation standards, evaluate compliance with the standards, and recognize organizations/programs which demonstrate compliance.
The InFRE Certified Retirement Counselor® (CRC®) certification continues to lead the retirement profession
InFRE’s purpose is raising the retirement readiness of American workers through retirement-specific, accredited certification and training for professionals. Texas Tech University, recognized nationally for their outstanding undergraduate, graduate and PhD financial planning programs, is a key partner. By having obtained independent third-party accreditation of the CRC® program, InFRE continues to lead the retirement profession as it has done since its inception in 1997.