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What Is a Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP)?

RICPs have expertise in planning retirement income strategies. We explain what goes into earning this title and how to find one here.

As you enter retirement or begin to map it out, ensuring you understand how your income might look is crucial. An effective way of doing that is with a financial advisor skilled in planning income strategies for retirees. A particular type of expert that helps with this is a Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP).

In this article, we’ll outline the basics of the RICP professional designation, including what it is, what you could expect from someone with the title, and the pathway to becoming one. We’ll also explain how you can find one and draw contrasts from other similar certifications.

Key Takeaways

  • RICP is a professional designation offered by The American College of Financial Services, a reputable institution.
  • Titleholders have expertise in planning income in retirement and dealing with intermingled needs such as healthcare, taxes, and estate planning.
  • Completing the RICP coursework takes less than a year but requires three years of professional experience to use the title.
  • RICPs must abide by strict professional standards of conduct.

RICP Definition

RICPs are professionals with a defined skillset in retirement income planning. The title is available through The American College of Financial Services and comprises three mandatory online courses. During the program, students learn about various topics related to planning income for retirees, including:

  • Claiming Social Security benefits
  • Containing healthcare and long-term care
  • Estate planning
  • Taxes
  • Employee retirement plan savings
  • Investments and fixed-income assets, such as annuities
  • Putting together a comprehensive, tailored plan

Because of their education, you should expect an RICP to be able to help you manage a complete retirement plan. They’ll have a focused skillset on managing costs, benefits, and savings. Therefore, they will be able to help you feel more comfortable with the plans you have in place.

The American College of Financial Services is a reputable organization that also issues high-quality professional titles such as Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU). RICP titleholders must adhere to the high ethical standards set forth by the issuing organization. This tells you that when working with an individual carrying the marks, they are bound by a higher duty.

Becoming a RICP

Like other notable certifications and titles in the financial advice industry, it takes considerable time and effort to earn a RICP title. More specifically, to earn the designation, a person must complete a required online program. There are, however, no prerequisites for individuals to begin their training.

Here’s what it takes to become an RICP:


Candidates must complete the mandatory “RICP® Program,” which includes three courses and is all online. According to The American College’s website, the usual timeframe to complete the program is under 12 months. As noted, there is no prerequisite to enter the program, except paying the enrollment cost of $995 per course.

Below is a summary of the topics the combined courses cover:

  • Creating a retirement income plan for clients.
  • Risk management.
  • Understanding various retirement income sources (e.g., Social Security, annuities, etc.) and how they factor into a greater plan.
  • Methodology of managing a retirement plan, both in the initial creation and ongoing monitoring.

Students will have 10 weeks to complete each course, followed by a four-week exam period. They have five years from enrolling to complete the RICP program. Otherwise, they must start over.

Ethical and Professional Standards

Before receiving the RICP designation, students must also agree to abide by The American College’s Code of Ethics. Specifically, they must follow the school’s “Canons” and “The Professional Pledge,” which dictate how they must conduct themselves professionally.

While the full version of both the Canons and Pledge is available on the organization’s website, they require individuals to practice with integrity, honor, and with the law in mind. They are largely consistent with that of a fiduciary duty, which is common for high-quality designations.

Violating the ethical standards set forth by The American College comes with severe penalties. Specifically, this includes either a temporary suspension or permanent revocation of the title.

Have Three Years of Professional Experience

Finally, titleholders must have collected a minimum of three years of professional experience in the financial planning field, or a relevant adjacent industry, to be able to use the title.

While the firm doesn’t cite any examples of what might satisfy this requirement, an individual might gain experience from working as an advisor and using the program to increase their knowledge or by working as an intern for an advisory firm or an applicable financial services company.

Who Needs a RICP?

Because of the skillset they receive from their coursework at The American College, RICPs are ideal professionals for people nearing or already in their retirement. Specifically, they can assist with planning out what your income will look like in your post-working years and how complex factors, such as taxes and healthcare, can influence your strategies.

Because it requires a decent amount of experience to receive, you might often see professionals have the RICP title to supplement other professional designations, such as Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), among others. This can signal that a professional has experience in more general finance and holistic planning areas, but also a focus on working with clients on retirement-centric goals and strategies.

How to Find a RICP

RICPs may fill many roles in the financial advice industry; however, it’s most common to see them working either as employees or owners at advisory firms. As employees, RICP titleholders may work at a larger firm and handle clients with retirement needs. As owners, they may operate a company with the sole objective of managing retiree finances.

To find a professional using the RICP marks, you can use The American College’s Your Advisor Guide search tool. This allows you to search for people with the title in your ZIP code. It will show you a person’s name, city, the designations they hold, and the name of the company they work at. Besides locating experts, this is another good way to verify an individual’s credentials.

Another effective method of finding a retirement professional in your area is using a matching service, such as this free tool. After answering some questions regarding your goals and circumstances, it will present you with three vetted options you can compare near you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a RICP a fiduciary?

RICPs must adhere to a specific set of ethical standards and agree to a pledge of professionalism, which includes putting a client’s needs first and working with honesty and integrity. Therefore, while not specifically mentioned, RICPs could be considered bound by a fiduciary duty to uphold client interests first and foremost.

Do RICPs have to complete continuing education requirements?

The RICP is one of many titles The American College of Financial Services offers that require designees to complete a professional recertification program each year to maintain their designation. Among other requirements, this includes finishing a continuing education credit every two years and reaffirming one’s adherence to the college’s professional standards.

How long does it take to get a RICP title?

According to The American College, receiving the RICP title takes less than a year. However, if one considers the professional experience to complete before getting the right to use the mark, it can take over three years. For this reason, the designation might not be the first one professionals go after, but a second or third one to exhibit expertise in the retirement planning field.