NIPA recently met with NIPA Education Director Kim Martin to discuss the importance of holding an APA/APR designation.
Q: What does it mean to hold an APA/APR designation from NIPA?
A: NIPA’s best-in-class designations are an integral part of NIPA’s commitment to advancing the unique value of TPAs. To hold our profession to the highest possible standards, NIPA offers two comprehensive designations: the Accredited Pension Administrator (APA) for administrators and consultants, and the Accredited Pension Representative (APR) for financial advisors and professionals.
First and foremost, NIPA’s designations are practical and relevant. Our designations ensure TPAs have the knowledge and skills needed to effectively handle the day-to-day administration of their clients’ plans. NIPA’s APA and APR designations provide employees with the required competence and ability that immediately translates into being able to do their daily job.
Second, NIPA’s designations are a cost-effective way to distinguish yourself in the marketplace and stand apart from your peers. Earning a NIPA designation will not only give you a sense of personal accomplishment, but it will demonstrate your professional competency and commitment to the industry. This opportunity to strengthen your personal and professional value is earned by successfully completing four courses and exams for the APA designation, and two courses and exams for the APR designation. And, a NIPA designation is cost effective in comparison to than other industry designation programs.
Third, NIPA’s designations are convenient to obtain. Courses are self-study, allowing you to progress at your own pace. Exams are administered online, making it easier and more convenient to schedule and complete. Plus, two of the APA/APR exams are "open-book” and may be taken from home or work.
Q: Are continuing education credits available through the APA/APR program?
A: Earning a NIPA designation not only provides you with an opportunity to strengthen your personal and professional value, but you can also earn continuing education credits (CECs) by going through the APA/APR program.
You can earn 10 CECs by successfully completing the first course of each designation, and 20 CECs for each of the subsequent courses. The APA/APR program covers key topics ranging from plan fundamentals to advanced subjects, including but not limited to plan types, determining eligibility, allocating contributions, applying vesting, compliance testing, processing distributions and loans, reporting and disclosures, documents and amendments, fiduciary responsibility, prohibited transactions, correcting plan errors, and plan terminations.
Q: How can obtaining NIPA’s APA or APR designations contribute to the growth of a TPA firm?
A: Complex statutory mandates make it more and more challenging to maintain high professional standards. NIPA is committed to providing TPA business owners, their firms and staff with the tools and resources to not only meet those challenges, but also improve bottom-line results. Through NIPA’s APA and APR designations, staff will gain the education necessary to stay ahead of the curve, ensuring they have the knowledge and skills required to meet the demands of their job. Having qualified staff with an APA or APR designation reflects the TPA firm’s commitment to providing quality service, increases the firm’s professional credibility, makes the firm more marketable and sets the firm apart from the competition – all of which contribute to the growth of the TPA firm.
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