Top 8 Finance Certificates: With Key Benefits and Definitions

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 14 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Finance certificates are a useful tool for candidates seeking to maximise their career progression potential. Candidates may impress employers with additional certifications that demonstrate an increased level of expertise. Understanding finance certifications can help you make more informed career decisions and promote your career progression. In this article, we discuss 8 popular finance certifications, explore what certifications are, explain why they're beneficial and list the requirements for gaining certifications.

What are finance certificates?

Finance certificates are certifications that qualify you to specialise in a certain area of finance. These certifications can show employers your skills and expert knowledge of specific financial practices. Finance certifications give candidates an opportunity to specialise in a specific financial topic and refine their skills to prepare for their careers.

This is important as having specific and technical skills may place candidates in a better position for more competitive or higher-paying roles that substantially contribute to their individual career progression. Finance certifications range in terms of subject, course length and the level of seniority they give candidates after qualification. Some certifications may require candidates to have a pre-existing finance qualification, such as a bachelor's or master's in accounting, economics or finance.

Related: Accountant Certification: 4 Programmes to Enhance Your Career

The benefits of finance certifications

There are multiple benefits to gaining an additional financial certification, with each contributing to your career progression in unique ways. Here's a list of reasons why finance certifications are beneficial:

  • Credibility: Additional certification may prove to clients and employers that you're an expert in your field and they can trust your opinion. Credibility is important in the financial industry as you may handle sensitive information often.

  • Boosts your value: Certifications may give you access to higher-paying roles earlier on in your career. This is because higher-paying roles require a higher degree of expertise and experience, which you can nurture through additional certification.

  • Confidence: An added layer of credibility may boost your confidence in the workplace. This can result in higher job satisfaction, promote customer loyalty and deliver high-quality service.

  • Global recognition: Finance bodies recognise some finance certifications internationally, meaning that candidates benefit from the global presence of the finance sector. Having an option to work in different countries can equip you with more impressive skills and influence your annual pay.

Related: Different Types of Finance Jobs (With Duties and Salaries)

8 finance certifications and their requirements

The type of finance certificate you receive is dependent on your chosen speciality. You may wish to specialise in multiple fields of finance, but this may cost a lot of money. When choosing which field to specialise in, research multiple job descriptions for your speciality to see which certification is favourable in that industry. Here's a list of 8 finance certifications with their course content and required qualifications you may consider:

1. Certified Private Wealth Advisor (CPWA)

This highly competitive certification offers candidates the opportunity to learn how to handle large amounts of money from wealthy clients. This course teaches vital skills on how to advise wealthy clients to spend and save their money in efficient ways. CPWA may advise on how to invest in appropriate markets and the best ways to keep their clients' money valuable over long periods of time. This program teaches candidates theory of estate planning, wealth transfer and executive compensation.

To study this course, recognised bodies require candidates to obtain a basic bachelor's degree in finance, accounting or economics from an accredited university or possess any other financial certification or license. This ensures that you understand basic economic theory and understand the major influences on financial value. Candidates may also complete a background police check before qualifying for this certification to ensure that they're safe to advise or handle large sums of money in the future.

2. Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Certified public accountants offer financial advice to clients and businesses, helping them manage the finances of things like mergers and acquisitions, income tax and financial planning. Public accountants can work with lots of different people every day and play an instrumental role in general financial management. To gain CPA certification, CPA Australia requires candidates to complete an authorised undergraduate or postgraduate degree to learn the basics of financial management. Once equipped with a degree, candidates can then apply and complete the CPA Australia program.

To fully qualify, candidates undertake three years of mandatory industry experience and are required to adhere to a strict CPA code of conduct.

Related: How to Become a Chartered Accountant in Australia (With Tips)

3. Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

This internationally recognised certification is a competitive and demanding course that requires candidates to commit to a minimum of 250 hours of a year of study. It teaches candidates how to analyse investments, security and portfolio management. A CFA certification is offered by the CFA Institute, which offers programs globally. You may complete this program locally through the CFA Societies Australia. Possessing a CFA certification can help you earn a competitive position. As the CFA is competitive, the certification requires candidates to have a bachelor's degree or at least four years of experience before applying.

Candidates then take multiple examines in varying fields of finance before qualifying as chartered financial analysts. On average, CFA candidates take a minimum of four years to complete the course.

4. Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

Certified financial planning certificates from the Financial Planning Association of Australia train candidates to help their clients plan for investments, estate, retirement and insurance. This course is highly ethics focused and ensures that candidates understand how to keep their client's best interests in mind when advising them. To complete a CFP, courses require candidates to have an approved bachelor's degree with a year in professional industry. It also requires candidates to sit an exam by Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority to ensure stringent ethical practice.

Candidates can expect their course to run for two to three years before qualifying as a certified financial planner.

5. Financial Risk Manager (FRM)

Financial risk management may be the most accessible course for future finance professionals. This course focuses on fraud, controlling risk in investment, project management and strategic planning. Financial risk managers research the market and determine any risks with investments to ensure that their client makes wise investment decisions. By conducting regular risk assessments, a financial risk manager can ensure that their client's money is safe and is continuing to appreciate.

Although there are no formal prerequisites for this certification, it may be wise to consider gaining a formal degree before applying. This ensures that you thoroughly understand the nature of investment risk and have basic economic theory which may help you secure your qualification.

6. Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)

Personal financial specialists or advisors provide their clients with specialist services like retirement, estate, investment and insurance planning. Personal financial specialists may specialise in one area of money management or may cover a wide range of financial services for their clients. Advisors often discuss business factors such as loan, retirement or personal insurance. The financial well-being of the client and the adherence to regulatory policies are central to PFS work.

To become a personal financial specialist, candidates complete a year of professional training, equivalent to 1600 hours. Candidates also require a bachelor's degree or have a qualification from The Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA). Authorities require candidates to pass a financial advisor exam to ensure compliance with professional standards.

7. Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

A certification from the Institute of Certified Management Accountants ensures that candidates can work effectively with businesses, government agencies and public companies. Management accountants focus on risk management, strategy planning, budgeting and financial analysis. Candidates for this program require a degree in finance and economics, commerce or accounting from a recognized university. The CMA awards candidates with certification after successful completion of the program and completing a set amount of industry hours.

The amount of time it takes to complete this program depends on the previous qualifications, as candidates with extensive qualifications may only pass a gateway exam before full certification.

Related: How To Become a Certified Management Accountant (Step Guide)

8. Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA)

The CIMA Society of Australia awards a certified investment management analyst certification to candidates who wish to build an extensive portfolio of investment management. Investment management analysts conduct thorough research and analyse a client's assets to make well informed financial recommendations. They may also guide their client on the correct time to buy and sell their assets to maximise profit. Candidates may take a minimum of three years to gain full certification.

During these years, candidates pass a number of professional exams to ensure expert knowledge of investment. Course leaders expect applicants to undertake at least 35 hours of study to reap the full benefit of the course. In some countries, a CIMA is equivalent to a master's degree.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Explore more articles