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What Is an Accredited Portfolio Management Advisor (APMA)?

Mark Henricks
·5 min read
Happy family meeting with their APMA
Happy family meeting with their APMA

Managing an investment portfolio calls for mastery of a challenging set of skills including understanding portfolio theory, allocating assets between debt and equity, decoding mutual fund investment policies, managing taxes and planning for retirement. The accredited portfolio management advisor (APMA) credential signifies that a financial professional has received graduate-level training in these skills and others.

A financial advisor can help you develop an investment strategy and a suite of tactical moves to maximize your chances of reaching your goals.

The APMA certificate is overseen by the Kaplan Financial Eduction and the College for Financial Planning, which offers a number of financial professional designations along with the APMA, including the certified financial planner (CFP).

APMA Certification Requirements

Applicants for an APMA don’t have to meet any specific prerequisites. The only requirements are to take an educational course and pass a final exam.

The educational component consists of a two-part self-study course. The topics covered include:

  • Investment risk and return analysis

  • Modern portfolio theory and performance evaluation of equities

  • Debt and fixed-income features

  • Debt and fixed income valuation and analysis

  • Mutual funds and other pooled investments

  • Investing in real assets

  • Derivatives and structured products

  • Taxation of investments and the regulatory environment

  • Ethical considerations, investment strategies and retirement needs analysis

  • Behavioral finance, client suitability and constructing portfolios

Courses are delivered online. Students can choose between live online classes or on-demand courses that can be viewed any time. Both sorts of classes are led by instructors.

After completing each of the 11 modules, students have to pass a 30-question quiz before moving on to the next module. There is also a 90-question final exam. Students have three hours to take the final and have to get at least 70% of the answers correct to graduate.

The program costs $1,300. Taking the classes and preparing for and taking the exam requires about 12 weeks in total. Study time will amount to between 100 and 150 hours. After receiving an APMA designation, certificate holders can keep it active by meeting continuing education standards and paying a renewal fee. The continuing education requirement comes to 16 hours every two years. The biennial renewal fee is $95.

APMA Certificate Holder Jobs

APMA at work
APMA at work

People who get APMA certificates are usually working as financial planners, investment advisors or brokers. About 3% of financial planners have the APMA certification, according to the College for Financial Planning’s 2020 Survey of Trends in the Financial Planning Industry. The APMA is one of the less common certifications appearing in the survey. By comparison, 80% had a securities license and more than half had CFP certificates.

The courses required to earn an APMA are the equivalent of a single graduate-level course. Successful applicants can get credit for a specific course that is part of the CFP program, or as an elective in the college’s master’s degree in personal financial planning. However, no special powers or privileges come with earning an APMA.

Comparable Certifications

The APMA designation is considered an advanced certification, one that is not usually earned by beginners in the field. Comparable certifications include:

Chartered financial analyst (CFA) offered by the CFA Institute requires applicants to have a bachelor’s degree or four years of work experience and pass all three levels of the CFA exam. Exams cost $950 each, plus there is a $450 enrollment fee.

Accredited wealth management advisor (AWMA) is another certificate from the College for Financial Planning. It also costs $1,300 but the education component is more extensive and takes a year to complete.

Chartered portfolio manager (CPM) is a designation offered by the Global Academy of Finance and Management. It requires either a four-year degree or similar experience as a financial professional. The fee is $378 for a two-year registration.

Chartered investment counselor (CIC) is overseen by the Investment Adviser Association. To get a CIC, applicants must already have the CFA designation. They also need significant work experience managing portfolios and counseling investors, along with references from a relevant employer.

Bottom Line

Retired couple
Retired couple

The APMA designation certifies that a financial professional has undergone a 12-week course in portfolio management concepts, strategies and hands-on design and implementation. To get an APMA, planners also have to pass a final exam, commit to staying current with continuing education and follow a code of ethical conduct. Getting an APMA increased financial advisors’ earnings more than any other certificate measured by the College for Financial Planning’s 2020 survey of the field. APMA certificate holders reported an increase of 40% in annual earnings after receiving the designation.

Tips for Investing

  • An experienced financial advisor can help ensure that your investment portfolio is on track to reach your goals. Finding one doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors who will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

  • One of the key factors to consider when creating and executing a financial plan is the buying power of a dollar over time. A free inflation calculator can give you a good read on your money’s future buying power.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/SDI Productions, ©iStock.com/undrey, ©iStock.com/Rifka Hayati

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