RRA® Continuing Education Requirements

A Registered Retirement Analyst credential holder has an obligation to maintain the highest standards of professional conduct whenever dealing with clients and the public. Inherent in this obligation is a requirement for the licensee to maintain and improve his or her professional skills through continuing education and training so as to keep up-to-date with changes in retirement and estate planning and/or the financial planning process, relevant legislation and related matters.

In keeping with this and in addition to abiding by the Code of Conduct, to remain a Registered Retirement Analyst licensee in good standing, an individual holding the RRA designation must complete a minimum of 10 qualifying, verifiable continuing education activities approved by the CIFP Retirement Institute on an annual basis.
CE requirements commence the calendar year following the year in which the individual attained RRA certification. A minimum of eight (8) qualified CE credits must be accumulated by December 31st of each calendar year.

For example, an individual who became an RRA licensee at any point this calendar year, will not have any CE requirements for the balance of this year. However, by December 31st of next year, the licensee will be required to complete a minimum of 10 approved continuing education activities to remain an RRA credential holder in good standing.

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, a licensee who enrolls in a course that commences in September of this calendar year and that concludes in January of next year, can only claim the course for CE purposes for next year (assuming all of the requirements for the course have been met by that time).

An eligible continuing education activity is one that furthers the development, professional skills and technical knowledge of the Registered Retirement Analyst licensee. The CE activity must, first and foremost, be educational in nature and must cover concepts directly related to one or more of the following technical knowledge areas:

  • retirement planning
  • estate planning
  • taxation planning
  • investment planning, including alternative investments (i.e. investments that do not fit into the traditional investment categories of cash, bonds and stocks)
  • financial management
  • insurance/risk management
  • financial planning in general
  • industry trends, changes and developments (e.g. legal or administrative) that impact the advice and recommendations a licensee 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 CIFP or alternate sources—qualifies as approved continuing education activities for purposes of upholding an individual's RRA certification.

CIFP Trends in Retirement Planning Course

In terms of relevant educational content, cost-efficiency, ease of administration and peace of mind, CIFP recommends Registered Retirement Analyst licensees complete the Trends in Retirement Planning Course to fulfill their CE requirements. Registration for this course is included as part of an individual's annual RRA licensing renewal fee.

In addition to featuring content that will upgrade his or her technical knowledge, this education offering is pre-approved by the CIFP Retirement Institute thereby relieving the licensee of the burden of self- assessing whether or not the course content meets the prescribed CE standards. Moreover, the licensee 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 Analyst credential holder for the year in one simple and convenient step.

Alternate continuing education activities

Alternate qualifying and verifiable continuing education activities may also be taken to meet the annual CE obligations for the RRA 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 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 licensee can be claimed provided the learning objectives covered in the session are in keeping with the continuing education guidelines for the RRA credential.

    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 preapproved in the delegate handbook).

    Presentations must predominantly focus on the technical aspects of financial planning 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 Analyst licensee who teaches courses or conducts presentations relating to 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, a licensee who writes financial planning books, articles, newsletters or course content can claim one CE credit for each hour of writing. Where the licensee 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.
  • 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.

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 Analyst licensee to ensure the appropriateness and applicability of any proposed CE activity he or she undertakes is aligned with the RRA designation 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.

Annual reporting of CE requirements

As part of RRA certification renewal, a licensee will be required to attest to meeting his or her RRA credential CE obligations each year. This is the extent of the licensee’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 Analyst credential holder 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 reporting of CE Activities

Licensee that are randomly selected for an audit of his or her claim for CE credits in support of RRA certification must submit documentation to the CIFP Retirement Institute to substantiate his or her claim. The documentation must contain sufficient information to enable the CIFP Retirement Institute to verify the nature and appropriateness of the reported activity and the licensee's participation in it. The CIFP Retirement Institute may conduct an audit for any, or all, of the three previous years; it is important licensees 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 licensee'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 licensee is the instructor of the course
    • Presenting: a certificate or letter from the sponsor confirming the details of the licensee's presentation
    • Writing / editing: verification issued by a third party attesting to the nature of the writing/editing work completed by the licensee

CE documentation that is incomplete, that does not match CIFP Retirement Institute records relating to the identification of the licensee, that is not issued and certified by a recognized postsecondary 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 of a CE activity, a licensee may be required to provide further supporting documentation (e.g. official course description, PowerPoint presentation, syllabus, etc.) to clarify what learning objectives are 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.

Excluding activities that have been specifically pre-approved by the CIFP Retirement Institute, it is the sole responsibility of the Registered Retirement Analyst licensee 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 advise the participant 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.

Continuing education credits accumulated in a given year in excess of the minimum requirements to uphold a licensee's RRA certification cannot be carried over for use in a future year.

CE requirements for a given year may be waived due to extenuating circumstances (e.g. the licensee is on maternity or parental leave, the licensee or a member of his or her immediate family dies or is diagnosed with a serious medical condition or disability).

A licensee 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. A licensee 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.

Certification as a Registered Retirement Analyst professional and the use of the RRA marks signals to the financial services industry, clients, peers and the public at large that the licensee 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 RRA designation also indicates the licensee's commitment to professional development through continuing education. Accordingly, a breach of this commitment is considered a serious violation of the RRA Code of Conduct.

A licensee will face the revocation of his or her RRA certification and his or her right to use the RRA marks for the following CE violations:

  • The licensee fails to earn a minimum of 10 qualified continuing education credits for a given year within the prescribed timelines (unless, the licensee has been approved for a continuing education waiver by the CIFP Retirement Institute).
  • A licensee, who has been randomly selected for audit, does not fulfill the requirements of the audit as stipulated by the CIFP Retirement Institute.
  • A licensee 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.