Agent Certifications and Licenses
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) changed how healthcare coverage is purchased in the USA. Today, you go to a website and choose your plans, pay your money and then call and talk to a contact center health insurance agent about your plan, benefits, or any other questions you may have. With ACA, contacts centers popped up overnight with agents ready and waiting to take calls. Open enrollments are a short six weeks and contact centers all want to get in on the act. Even companies that have nothing to do with insurance or healthcare got into the business. The only requirement is agents obtain and maintain a state issued health insurance license to talk with customers. A state issued licensed is mandatory before salespeople can talk to potential policyholders. This is not optional.
It’s easy to get a license. Agents need to take the state mandated exam and pass. Contact centers started teaching the prep classes, packing in potential agents with the hope that half the class would pass and be ready to move to the floor. To maintain it is even easier, just pay the money for the CE courses, which can be done in self-study, online or in an instructor-led class. There may or may not be an exam.
ACA has opened many new contact centers with new opportunities for agents to make more than the average $10/hour. ACA centers are busy hiring, educating and certifying new insurance agents everyday and prospering as a result.
While the financial planning industry has always had a series of certifications it is new to mortgage banking. The SAFE Mortgage Licensing Act of 2008 requires mortgage loan originators to register and be licensed with the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS). See the NMLS resource website for details on the requirements and SAFE MLO Test. Obtaining a NMLS license is mandatory for loan officers, processors, and other mortgage professionals who talk to customers. This is a state issued license allowing the individual to conduct business in that state.
The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) does provide a certificate for Certified Mortgage Banker and this is optional. It is the industry standard of professional success. The MBA provides training and education in both commercial and residential mortgage banking, as well as the examination and certification process.
Certified Financial Planners on the other hand, have had a series of certifications for years.
For example, here is the list:
Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
Certified Fund Specialist (CFS)
Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC)
Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA)
Each designation signifies an education and experience level and the type of work these professionals conduct. While certifications are optional, securities licenses are not. Financial Planners and/or Financial Advisors at a minimum need to hold securities licenses such as Series 63, Series 6 and/or Series 7 depending on the type of work one is doing. The Financial Advisor holds only the security licenses and can work with customers. This is how most Certified Financial Planners get started since they need three years of experience before obtaining a certificate.