In keeping with all bona fide professional designations, the Registered Retirement Consultant /Conseiller en Retraite and Conseillère en Retraite credential demands the highest standards of its holders.
As a RRC/CR holder you have an obligation—to yourself, to the industry and most importantly, to the clients you serve—to demonstrate that you are engaging in ongoing professional development. You need to maintain your technical understanding of retirement and estate planning concepts. You must also keep up-to-date on administrative, legal and regulatory changes that take place within the industry that can impact your client’s situation and the recommendations you make to them.
To remain in good standing, an RRC/CR holder must earn a minimum of 10 (ten) qualified continuing education credits each year based on activities approved by the CIFP Retirement Institute.
Commencement of CE Requirements
CE requirements commence the calendar year following the year in which you attain RRC/CR certification. A minimum of 10 qualified CE credits must be accumulated by December 31st of each calendar year.
For example, if you obtain your RRC/CR designation at any point this calendar year, you will not have any CE requirements for the balance of this year. However, by December 31st of next year, you will be required to complete a minimum of 10 approved continuing education credits to maintain your RRC/CR certification.
A continuing education activity must be completed in full (and all requirements for that activity satisfied) before CE credits can be claimed for that activity. Credits cannot be claimed based simply on enrollment in or partial completion of a course or activity.
Similarly, if a particular course or activity straddles two calendar years, credit for that course or activity cannot be claimed until its actual completion date (which includes satisfying all requirements for that activity such as assignments and examinations). For example, if you enroll in a CE course that commences in September of this calendar year and that concludes in January of next year, you can only claim the course for CE purposes for next year as that will be the course completion date (assuming all of the requirements for the course have been met by that time).
Eligible Continuing Education Activities
An eligible continuing education activity is one that furthers the development, professional skills and technical knowledge of the Registered Retirement Consultant/Conseiller en Retraite and Conseillère en Retraite. The CE activity must, first and foremost, be educational in nature and must cover concepts directly related to retirement and/or estate planning, financial planning in general or industry trends, changes and developments (e.g. legal, administrative and/or regulatory) that impact the advice and recommendations a Consultant/Conseiller and Conseillère would give to his or her clients.
Activities that focus on the merits and features of specific financial products or financial organizations or that are promotional in nature are not considered continuing education.
A variety of options—offered through the CIFP Retirement Institute or alternate sources—qualifies as approved continuing education activities for purposes of upholding an individual's RRC/CR certification.
» CIFP Trends in Retirement Planning Course
In terms of relevant educational content, cost-efficiency, ease of administration and peace of mind, the CIFP Retirement Institute recommends Registered Retirement Consultants/Conseillers en Retraite and Conseillères en Retraite complete the Trends in Retirement Planning Course to fulfill their CE requirements. Registration for this course is included as part of your annual RRC/CR licensing renewal fee.
In addition to featuring content that will upgrade your technical knowledge, this education offering is pre-approved by the CIFP Retirement Institute thereby relieving you of the burden of self-assessing whether or not the course content meets the prescribed CE standards. Moreover, you will not have to worry about a potential audit and cumbersome record keeping given that the course has already been vetted by the Institute.
In short, successful completion of the Trends in Retirement Planning Course will satisfy all of the CE obligations of the Registered Retirement Consultant/Conseiller en Retraite and Conseillère en Retraite for the year in one simple and convenient step.
» Alternate Continuing Education Activities
Alternate continuing education activities may also be taken to meet the annual CE obligations for the RRC/CR designation. These activities include (but, are not limited to):
Credit courses: Courses offered through a university, community college or other approved post-secondary educational institution (including self-study and distance learning education offerings) that qualify for a minimum of one-half (1/2) credit at the applicable educational institution and for which the final course grade is, wholly or in part, based on a formal examination qualify.
In-house training: Educational seminars, workshops and webinars sponsored by the financial institution that employs the Consultant/Conseiller and Conseillère can be claimed provided the learning objectives covered in the session are in keeping with the RRC/CR continuing education guidelines.
When tabulating the number of CE credits for an in-house training session, time spent for breaks, meals and non-educational activities must be excluded from the calculation. A maximum of seven (7) CE credits can be claimed for a full-day, in-house training session.
Conferences: Sessions attended at conferences, such as the annual CIFPs National Conference, are eligible activities provided they are educational in nature (for ease of identification, educational sessions at the CIFPs National Conference are designated as pre-approved in the delegate handbook).
Presentations must predominantly focus on technical financial planning concepts or retirement or estate planning. Sessions that centre on the features of specific financial products or financial organizations with a sales or marketing bent do not qualify.
Teaching, presenting, writing / editing: A Registered Retirement Consultant/Conseiller en Retraite and Conseillère en Retraite who teaches courses or conducts presentations relating to retirement planning and/or financial planning can claim one CE credit for each hour of teaching or presenting to a maximum of 10 CE credits for the calendar year.
Similarly, an individual who writes financial planning books, articles, newsletters or course content can claim one CE credit for each hour of writing to a maximum of 10 credits. Where the individual is engaged in editing or re-writing pre-existing content, one CE credit can be claimed for every two hours of editing or re-writing to a maximum of 10 credits.
Other activities: Other activities that are educational in nature and that relate specifically to retirement planning, estate planning or financial planning in general may also qualify for CE credits.
Please note: Unless a CE activity is specifically designated as pre-approved by the CIFP Retirement Institute, it is the sole responsibility of the Registered Retirement Consultant/Conseiller en Retraite and Conseillère en Retraite to ensure the appropriateness of any proposed CE activity he or she chooses to undertake. Similarly, he or she must self-assess whether the proposed activity is aligned with the RRC/CR CE guidelines. Non-pre-approved activities are subject to review, approval and audit by the Institute. Decisions made by the Institute pertaining to the appropriateness of a continuing education activity are final.
Documentation and Reporting
» Annual Reporting of CE activities
As part of RRC/CR certification renewal, a Consultant/Conseiller and Conseillère will be required to attest to meeting his or her RRC/CR CE obligations each year. This is the extent of the individual's continuing education reporting requirements—supporting documentation does not need to be submitted with the renewal application.
This said, excluding activities that have been specifically pre-approved by the CIFP Retirement Institute, a Registered Retirement Consultant/Conseiller en Retraite and Conseillère en Retraite is advised to retain official and original documentation to support any continuing education activities that he or she has claimed in the event he or she is selected by the Institute for a random audit.
» Audit of Reported CE Activities
Individuals that are randomly selected for an audit of his or her claim for CE credits must submit documentation to the CIFP Retirement Institute to substantiate his or her claim. The documentation must contain sufficient information to enable the Institute to verify the nature and appropriateness of the reported activity and the Consultant's/Conseiller and Conseillère’s participation in it. The Institute may conduct an audit for any, or all, of the three previous years; it is important Consultants/Conseillers and Conseillères keep supporting documentation on file to cover this period.
Depending on the nature of the continuing education activity, acceptable documentation will typically be in the form of:
Credit courses: an official transcript or notice of completion issued and certified by the sponsoring post-secondary educational institution
In-house training: a certificate of attendance and completion issued by the Consultant's/Conseiller and Conseillère’s employer who is sponsoring the training
Conferences: a certificate of attendance (including detailed information about the educational session) issued by the conference sponsor / host
Teaching, presenting, writing / editing:
Teaching: a letter issued by the educational institution or financial industry organization sponsoring the course attesting that the Consultant/Conseiller and Conseillère is the instructor of the course
Presenting: a certificate or letter from the sponsor confirming the details of the Consultant's/Conseiller and Conseillère’s presentation
Writing / editing: verification issued by a third party attesting to the nature of the writing / editing work completed by the Consultant/Conseiller and Conseillère
CE documentation that is incomplete, that does not match the records of the CIFP Retirement Institute as it pertains to the identification of the Consultant/Conseiller and Conseillère, that is not issued and certified by a recognized post-secondary educational institution or financial industry organization or that, in any respect, is deemed to be inadequate by the Institute will not be accepted. Claims for CE credits based on this documentation will be declined.
In addition to proof of attendance or a certificate of completion for a CE activity, an individual may be required to provide further supporting documentation (e.g. official course description, PowerPoint presentation, syllabus, etc.) to clarify what learning objectives were covered as part of this activity.
Decisions made by the CIFP Retirement Institute with regards to the adequacy of the documentation submitted and/or the relevance of the continuing education activity itself are final.
Determining the Number of Credits Attributable to a CE Activity
Excluding activities that have been specifically pre-approved by the CIFP Retirement Institute, it is the sole responsibility of the Registered Retirement Consultant/Conseiller en Retraite and Conseillère en Retraite to assess the appropriateness of a proposed continuing education activity and the number of CE credits that should be assigned to that particular endeavour.
The sponsoring educational institution or financial organization will often offer guidance as to how many CE credits an activity is worth. Where it is left to the participant to make that determination, the number of credits allocated to an activity should be reasonable and should have a direct correlation to the amount of time he or she spent in that activity for purposes of learning and improving his or her skills and technical knowledge.
A prudent and conservative rule of thumb to follow is that one hour of qualified continued education activity equates to one CE credit.
Carryover of CE Credits
Continuing education credits accumulated in a given year in excess of the minimum requirements to uphold an individual's RRC/CR designation can not be carried over for use in a future year.
Waiver of CE Requirements
CE requirements for a given year may be waived due to extenuating circumstances (e.g. the individual is on maternity or parental leave, the individual or a member of his or her immediate family dies or is diagnosed with a serious medical condition or disability).
An individual must formally request for an exemption of his or her CE obligations in writing and must provide supporting documentation as applicable. Such requests will be reviewed by the CIFP Retirement Institute on a case-by-case basis; decisions rendered are at the discretion of the Institute and are considered final.
A waiver of CE requirements is only valid for the calendar year in which the formal request is submitted; exemptions for multiple years are not permitted as part of one request. An individual who requires an exemption beyond the current calendar year will be required to submit a separate formal request to be exempt for the following year.
Failure to Comply with RRC/CR CE and/or CE Audit Obligations and/or Misrepresentation of CE Activities
Certification as a Registered Retirement Consultant/Conseiller en Retraite and Conseillère en Retraite and the use of the RRC/CR marks signals to the financial services industry, clients, peers and the public at large that the Consultant/Conseiller and Conseillère has attained a recognized level of knowledge and competence and that he or she has undertaken an obligation to act in a professional and ethical manner. The RRC/CR designation also indicates the individual's commitment to professional development through continuing education. Accordingly, a breach of this commitment is considered a serious violation of the Code of Conduct.
An individual will face the revocation of his or her RRC/CR certification and his or her right to use the RRC/CR marks for the following CE violations:
The individual fails to earn a minimum of 10 qualified continuing education credits for a given year within the prescribed timelines (unless, the individual has been approved for a continuing education waiver by the CIFP Retirement Institute).
An individual, who has been randomly selected for audit, does not fulfill the requirements of the audit as stipulated by the CIFP Retirement Institute.
An individual misstates or misrepresents his or her CE activities in a manner that is deemed to be deliberate in the reasonable judgment of the CIFP Retirement Institute.
In all situations, decisions made by the CIFP Retirement Institute are considered final.