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Accredited Retirement Advisor, ARA Certification: Details on Examination and Certification for Accredited Retirement Advisors

Written by AnonymousAugust 31, 2011
"Accredited Retirement Advisor Certification"

If you’re looking to improve your career in accounting, obtaining an accounting certificate is an excellent first step. Accounting certifications can expand your accounting knowledge and increase your proficiency in a specific area of the accounting field.

Introduction to Accredited Retirement Advisor Certification

Retirement advisors are accounting professionals who help seniors transition into retirement by providing specialized advice about topics like:

  • Tax planning
  • Preparing for retirement
  • Tax preparation for decedents
  • Estates and trusts
  • Financial planning

The Accredited Retirement Advisor (ARA) is a professional accounting certification issued by the Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation (ACAT). Earning the ARA designation shows that you’re an experienced and qualified retirement advisor with considerable expertise in the field. ARA certification has the potential to:

  • Distinguish you from others in your field
  • Open up employment opportunities
  • Increase your earning potential
  • Expand your professional marketability
  • Demonstrate your ongoing commitment to professional development

Key Steps to Accredited Retirement Advisor Certification

In order to become certified as an ARA, you’re required to pass the ARA examination and pay all fees associated with the credential. As of 2011, this consists of a$200 examination fee, a $50 registration fee, , a $50 credential fee, and a $20 certificate fee.

Details of the Accredited Retirement Advisor Exam

The ARA exam is a computer-based test comprised of 100 multiple-choice questions, all designed to evaluate your retirement advising knowledge. The content is distributed in the following way:

  • Retirement plans, benefits, and retirement distribution (20 percent of the exam)
  • Insurance, health care, senior care, and long-term care options (20 percent of the exam)
  • Estates, trusts, estate planning, and taxation considerations (40 percent of the exam)
  • Personal residence issues (10 percent of the exam)
  • Ethics and professionalism in serving aging clients (4 percent of the exam)

The exams are administered at LaserGrade testing centers, which are located around the country. Information about registering for the exam and finding your local testing center can be found on the ACAT website.

The ARA exam costs $200 plus a $50 registration fee as of 2011. If you want to reschedule your exam without forfeiting these fees, you must do so at least three working days before your scheduled test date.

Preparing for the Accredited Retirement Advisor Exam

ACAT recommends that all ARA candidates participate in “Serving Aging America, an Elder Care Seminar Series for Tax and Accounting Professionals” prior to taking the exam. The seminar is presented by the National Center for Professional Education, Inc. and is offered around the country three times a year. The seminar is designed to familiarize you with the retirement planning topics covered on the test.

Maintaining the Accredited Retirement Advisor Designation

To maintain your ARA designation, you are required to:

  • Pay an annual renewal fee of $80, due June 30th of each year.
  • Adhere to ACAT’s Code of Ethics and Rules of Professional Conduct
  • Comply with ACAT’s continuing professional education (CPE) requirements

ACAT requires that all ARAs earn 72 hours of continuing professional education credits every three years. Four of these hours must be in ethics and at least 24 must be in eldercare-specific issues, such as:

  • Retirement
  • Asset management
  • Social security
  • Medicare
  • Long-term care
  • Trusts and estates

The remaining hours can be in subjects of your choosing, as long as they’re relevant. Approved subjects include:

  • Accounting
  • Taxation
  • Finance
  • Technology
  • Business law

ACAT periodically conducts random audits to make sure that all ARAs have been earning the necessary CPE hours. If during these audits they find that you haven’t completed the required amount of CPE hours, your credential will be suspended.

Governing Board Information

ARA certification is issued by:

The Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation
1010 N. Fairfax Street
Alexandria, VA 22314