The letters CTFA stand for Certified Trust and Financial Advisor and it is a certification granted by the American Banks Association. This designation indicates the holder has completed training and demonstrated knowledge in the following areas: trust and estate planning and administration, estate and income taxes, investment management, and financial planning. The Certified Trust and Financial Advisor mark is appropriate for financial planners, tax professionals, and trust officers that provide estate planning advice to their clients.
To achieve the designation, candidates must have a minimum of three years of experience in personal trusts along with the completion of an ICB (Institute of Certified Bankers) trust training program. Candidates can also have five years of experience in personal trusts along with a bachelor's degree or ten years of experience in personal trusts. To go along with the experience prerequisite, a holder must successfully pass an examination, adhere to a professional code of ethics, and complete 45 hours of continuing education every three years.The various designations in the financial services industry can look like the equivalent of alphabet soup. However, if you are looking for an adviser with practical Trust and Estate experience, then the CTFA designation is a good place to start because it is the industry standard.