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ERPA's, Why Obtain an APA/APR Designation?

Posted By NIPA Headquarters, Monday, June 2, 2014

By: Kimberly Martin, APA, CPC, QPA, Education Director, NIP

Congratulations ERPAs! Because of your dedication to the retirement plan industry – and just plain hard work – you have earned the ERPA designation! NIPA recognizes that the knowledge and skills required to become an ERPA are extensive, and much of this same competency is required to obtain NIPA’s APA and APR designations. Because of the overlap of material covered on the ERPA exams and NIPA’s APA/APR exams, NIPA offers you two special opportunities for obtaining the APA/APR designations.

NIPA’s best-in-class designations are an integral part of NIPA’s commitment to advancing your unique value as a TPA. Obtaining NIPA’s APA or APR designation is a cost-effective way to further distinguish yourself in the marketplace and stand apart from your peers.

From a company perspective, having qualified staff with an APA or APR designation reflects the firm’s commitment to providing quality service. A TPA firm with designated staff increases the firm’s professional credibility, makes the firm more marketable, and sets the firm apart from the competition.   

Recognizing the knowledge and effort necessary to obtain the ERPA and other industry designations, NIPA has made obtaining your NIPA designation simpler. As an ERPA you automatically qualify for the APR designation upon joining NIPA, and you are eligible to obtain the APA designation by joining NIPA and taking a single open-book comprehensive exam.  

In addition, courses completed at other educational institutions could be used toward earning your APA/APR designations. Check out NIPA’s Exam Equivalencies to see the credit NIPA extends for successfully completing other industry courses. 

Best of all, having the APA or APR designation also means experiencing all the other benefits of NIPA membership. View the full list of member benefits at http://www.nipa.org/?page=MembershipCat.

Interested? Contact NIPA Headquarters for more information on how you can strengthen your personal and professional value with NIPA’s APA and APR designations!

And congratulations on earning your ERPA designation!

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Get Involved with NIPA: Grow Professionally and Earn CPE Credits as a Designation Committee Volunteer!

Posted By NIPA Headquarters, Monday, May 5, 2014

By: Kimberly Martin, APA, CPC, QPA, Education Director, NIPA

Maybe you’ve been in the retirement plan industry for years, having survived multiple use testing in 401(k) plans and the combined 415 limit calculation of DB/DC plans.  Or, perhaps you are somewhat newer to this business, having recently strengthened your personal and professional value by earning a NIPA APA or APR designation.  Possibly you are established in your career, but you want to help others learn the tools of the trade.  Either way, your experience brings an important perspective that is needed in our industry.

The strengthening and expanding of NIPA’s educational offerings and resources is due to many people.  One group of individuals vital to the success of NIPA’s educational programs is our volunteers.  Many of NIPA’s educational programs rely on volunteers, and I’d like to thank all of our many volunteers who donate their valuable time and expertise!  I encourage you to get involved and become a volunteer on NIPA’s Designation Committee.  Your input is extremely valuable to our APA/APR program! 

The Designation Committee is responsible for developing the study materials and examination questions for NIPA's Accredited Pension Administrator (APA) and Accredited Pension Representative (APR) designations.  Specifically, Designation Committee volunteers write and review examination questions related to their assigned topic(s), as well as an explanation of the answers.  Volunteers also review the related textbook assignment, verifying that the material is relevant, practical and understandable, and that all answers to exam questions can be found in the text. 

The Committee is divided into five sub-committees which correspond to the five APA and APR courses under the designation program.  Designation Committee volunteers are assigned to one of these sub-committees based on experience and areas of expertise.  Each volunteer is given one or two topics to work on from that course. 

A good share of the committee work is done individually (rather than as a group), at a time and location (office, home, etc.) that is convenient for you.

While these tasks may sound interesting to you, I know your time is limited, and my guess is that you are wondering how much time is actually involved!  Typically, the time commitment to review the textbook assignment and to write and review the examination questions is approximately 8 to 12 hours, but can be more if you request a more complex topic!  And, the required tasks can be completed at your own pace over a period of 2-3 months, depending on the sub-committee you are assigned. 

For your significant contribution to the designation program, what will you receive in return?  Designation Committee positions give you the opportunity to share your expertise, enhance your industry knowledge, gain new skills, and work with other industry professionals.  In addition, you will earn NIPA Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits.  Depending on the number of questions you review/write, you may be able to earn up to 15 CPE credits! 

If you have not yet experienced the rewards of being a NIPA volunteer, I encourage you to get involved with NIPA and become a volunteer on our Designation Committee today!

If you are interested in volunteering, click here to learn more or apply for a volunteer position. As always, please feel free to contact me at kmartin@nipa.org with any questions you may have.  

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NIPA’s APA and APR Designations: A Cost-Effective Way to Set Your Firm Apart From the Competition

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, March 31, 2014

By: Kimberly Martin, APA, CPC, QPA, Education Director, NIPA

You may have gotten into this crazy business by accident (not too many of us grew up planning on being a TPA), but once on the job, you made a choice to remain in the retirement plan industry, and that choice demands education.  This isn’t a profession where you can “wing it” for long.  Complex statutory mandates require that you know what you are doing!  Successful TPAs need to not only understand qualified plan concepts, but also must be able to apply these complicated rules when designing and administering retirement plans. 

Where can you go to make sure your staff has the knowledge and skills they need to effectively handle the day-to-day administration of your clients’ plans?
  NIPA is committed to advancing the unique value of TPAs in the retirement industry by keeping TPA business owners, their firms and staff ahead of the curve.  NIPA’s best-in-class designations ensure your staff has the expertise required to perform their daily jobs – and set your firm apart from the competition. 

To maintain high professional standards in our industry, NIPA offers two comprehensive designations which indicate that an employee has achieved the necessary “know how” in this industry.  Through NIPA’s 
Accredited Pension Administrator (APA) and Accredited Pension Representative (APR) programs, your staff will gain the required knowledge and skills that immediately translate into being able to do their jobs – and improve bottom-line results!

The APA is earned through the successful completion of four self-study courses and exams geared toward plan administrators and consultants, while the APR designation is earned through the successful completion of two self-study courses and exams geared toward financial professionals.  Each program’s relevant and practical curriculum focuses on the information and abilities your staff needs to successfully carry out their responsibilities.  Check out each designation’s comprehensive curriculum in
 
NIPA's 2014 Education Brochure. 

While NIPA’s designation program is designed to provide your staff with the expertise needed to meet the demands of their jobs, a NIPA designation isn’t only about improving day-to-day performance.
  NIPA’s APA and APR designations provide your staff with the opportunity to earn a prestigious designation that carries with it a sense of personal accomplishment and demonstrates their commitment to the retirement plan industry.  Obtaining a NIPA designation will strengthen their personal and professional value, causing them to stand out from their peers and distinguishing your firm in the marketplace.

Because NIPA is committed to providing you, your firm and your staff with the tools and resources you need to succeed, NIPA has implemented a new pricing structure for its APA/APR designation program.  In addition, staff of business owner members can now register for the APA and APR exams at the reduced member rate.  Practically speaking, this translates into lower costs to put your employees through NIPA’s designation program.  Visit
http://www.nipa.org/?page=DesignationPrograms to learn more about these discounts available to you.

NIPA’s designations are also convenient to obtain.  Courses are self-study, allowing your staff to progress at their own pace.  Practice examinations are available to help determine how well they know the material.  APA and APR exams are administered online during three month-long periods each year, making it easier and more convenient to schedule and complete their exams.  In fact, NIPA’s next exam window is from May 15 through June 15, and registration is still open. 
Click here to enroll your employees in NIPA’s APA or APR designation program, and get them started today! 

Retirement plans operate under a complex set of rules and regulations, causing day-to-day plan administration to become increasingly more complicated.  NIPA’s designation program will help you meet this challenge.  Educating your employees is a commitment you must make in order to advance your business in this competitive world.  Don’t wait!  Begin today.  
Click here and register your employees in NIPA’s APA or APR designation program, and strengthen their personal and professional value.  With NIPA’s best-in-class designations, your staff will gain the education excellence necessary to set your firm apart from the competition!  

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Stay Ahead of the Curve with NIPA’s 2014NAFE A Cost-Effective Way to Educate Your Staff

Posted By Brittany Scofield, Monday, March 3, 2014

By: Kimberly Martin, APA, CPC, QPA, Education Director, NIPA

As retirement plan professionals in a constantly changing business, we’re often challenged with staying ahead of the curve.  The rules governing retirement plans are extensive and complex – and difficult to stay on top of on a daily basis.  I confess.  At times I have several unopened newsletters waiting in my inbox.  More often than I care to admit I glance through periodicals, then set them aside to read more thoroughly “later.” Sometimes its days (OK, weeks) before I actually read important IRS guidance.  And yet, keeping up with these rules and understanding their practical application is essential to meeting the demands of our daily jobs. 

 NIPA has the perfect solution to this struggle to stay ahead of the curve: the 2014 NIPA Annual Forum & Expo (2014NAFE), a premier event designed exclusively for retirement plan professionals.

The 2014NAFE provides the most up-to-date information on all aspects of the retirement plan industry, including day-to-day tasks, impacts of recent or forthcoming legislation, industry trends and practical tools that will help you discover innovative solutions to enhance the services you provide to your clients.

Taking place April 27-30 in Las Vegas, this cost-effective solution will provide you with the expertise you need to succeed while earning up to 22 NIPA and 22 ERPA CPE credits – that’s nearly a year’s worth of ERPA continuing professional education credits in just four days.

Expand your knowledge and enhance your abilities by attending relevant educational sessions focused on the most pressing issues you face each day – from participant notices, administrative errors, PPA restatements, and distributions and loans to ethical choices, 3(16) fiduciary duties, mergers and acquisitions, DOL audits, and how to set yourself apart.  Advanced roundtable discussions provide an open forum to network, exchange ideas and learn from an exclusive group of peers who have successfully faced the plan administration challenges you’re facing now.  And to make sure you don’t miss any of these sessions, following the conference you will receive a link to the audio recordings and PowerPoint presentations from each of the 37 educational sessions.

Check out the conference’s robust schedule and lineup of leading industry expert speakers at www.nipa.org/nafe.

If you are unable to make it to Vegas this year or need to save on travel and hotel costs, NIPA has the solution for that as well! NIPA is proud to bring back the virtual component to the 2014NAFE.  Attendees of the 2014NAFE Virtual Conference will be able to join 13 of the presentations and ask the speakers questions during the live sessions.  The virtual conference is a cost-effective way for everyone to benefit from these comprehensive educational sessions regardless of their location, and participants can earn up to 19 ERPA CPE credits and 19 NIPA CPE credits – nearly a year’s worth of ERPA CPE in just 3 days!  In addition to being able to attend the sessions live, participants will be able to access recordings of the sessions year-round.

Register for the 2014NAFE by March 21st to receive your $100 cost savings.  You are also eligible for a significant 50% registration discount if you are new APA or APR.  In addition, group rates apply to both the in-person and virtual conference, allowing more of your staff to attend this premier event at a great value.  Visit www.nipa.org/?page=NAFERegistration to learn about more about these and other discounts available to you! 

Get up to speed with the latest rules, trends and solutions.  Attend the 2014NAFE and stay ahead of the curve. 

I hope to see you in Las Vegas!

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