Chartered Advisor for Senior Living® (CASL®) is a professional designation for individuals whose advice helps older clients achieve financial security. A CASL® certification is often held by financial advisors who have demonstrated a commitment to helping clients who are middle aged and older to achieve and preserve financial security through wealth management, wealth preservation and wealth transfer planning. The CASL® designation, while still recognized by the American College of Financial Services (the CASL® issuing organization), is no longer offered to new students.
The CASL is one of several American College legacy programs. The college continues to support existing CASL holders. The American College decided to stop admitting new professionals to the program as of Sept. 1, 2015, but continues to offer existing candidates the coursework and exams required to complete the designation by March 21, 2017.
According to the American College, the CASL designation "shows a commitment to helping aging clients achieve financial security now and into the future. The CASL helps advisors lead clients from middle age through retirement and assist them with the management, preservation, and transfer of wealth."
CASL® designation holders are tasked with providing income and investment strategies that are appropriate for the client’s age, helping clients understand long-term care insurance and health insurance, and providing estate planning guidance. The required coursework gets into the details of aging successfully; family relationships and living arrangements for older individuals; health care needs; health insurance coverage prior to age 65; Medicare coverage; Medicaid planning; types of property ownership; trusts; estate taxes; and ways to transfer assets.
It also covers types of investments; the risk and return associated with different types of securities; how investment markets work; portfolio management; planning for retirement distributions; claiming Social Security; continued investment throughout retirement; and retirement housing.
While there are no uniform standards by which to evaluate the usefulness to consumers of the many financial adviser designations, the CASL designation is considered a rigorous one because it requires 250 to 300 hours of study; the completion of five specific college-level courses; three-to-five years of relevant full-time work experience or achieving the experience requirements for the CLU, ChFC, REBC or CFL designations; five closed-book, two-hour exams; and 15 hours of continuing education every two years. The five required courses are Understanding the Older Client, Health and Long-Term Care Financing for Seniors, Financial Decisions for Retirement, Investments, and Fundamentals of Estate Planning. It takes an average of 18 months to earn this designation.
Because there are multiple financial adviser designations that allow advisers to claim expertise in managing the finances of seniors, consumers need to be wary and investigate the requirements behind a credential before trusting an adviser with their finances. Some designations have no required coursework and are not accredited. Others, including the CASL, require significant coursework or self-study and are regionally or nationally accredited.
Retirees and near-retirees face numerous complex decisions related to their finances, so it often makes sense to hire an expert who can analyze individual circumstances and provide detailed, personalized advice. Books and articles can provide general advice, but they cannot tell a married 70-year-old with $500,000 in a 401(k) and moderate health exactly what decisions to make to maximize financial security and quality of life.
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