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Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)


A Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) is a specific type of financial advisor who is recognized by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). They possess expertise in estate planning, retirement planning, investment strategies and tax planning. To attain this credential, they must be a certified public accountant (CPA), have relevant work experience, and pass an exam.


Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) in phonetics is: – Personal: /pɜːr.sən.əl/- Financial: /faɪˈnæn.ʃəl/- Specialist: /ˈspɛʃ.əl.ɪst /- PFS: /ˌpiː ɛf ˈɛs/

Key Takeaways

  1. Comprehensive financial expertise: Personal Financial Specialists (PFS) have comprehensive knowledge in a variety of fields, including financial planning, tax planning, estate planning, risk management, and retirement savings. They are therefore uniquely qualified to advise on a broad range of financial matters.
  2. Professional standards: A PFS is a credential awarded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), and holders of this designation are required to adhere to high professional standards. This includes continuous professional development and adhering to a strict code of conduct.
  3. Completion Requirements: To qualify as a PFS, individuals must be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), complete a certain amount of relevant work experience, pass a comprehensive exam, and agree to abide by the AICPA’s code of professional conduct. This difficult process ensures that PFS credential holders are highly competent financial advisors.


A Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) is an important designation in the field of business and finance because it represents a professional who has attained a high level of proficiency and competence in personal financial planning. As certified by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), a PFS holder has extensive experience and rigorous education in several key areas of personal finance like estate planning, retirement planning, investing, insurance, and tax planning. Their role is vital as they use this knowledge and skill set in providing clear, reliable, and personalized financial guidance to individuals, helping them make informed decisions and achieve their financial goals. Therefore, this designation not only increases the credibility of the professional, but it also provides assurance to clients regarding the provision of expert financial advice.


The main purpose of a Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) is to assist individuals in managing their personal finances effectively. PFS professionals hold expertise in financial planning, estate planning, retirement planning, investments as well as insurance. As certified experts, they have the knowledge to help individuals understand their current financial situations and project their future needs. They work towards crafting a comprehensive strategy by using various financial instruments to secure the financial health of their clients. PFS professionals engage in activities such as reviewing and advising on tax returns, creating a budget, guiding on mortgages, loans, or managing debts, advising on insurance coverage and investment opportunities and more, depending on the unique needs of every client. They provide objective advice to aid individuals to make smart personal financial decisions and maximize their economic benefits whilst maintaining financial risk at an acceptable level. To this end, PFS professionals play a critical role in enhancing the financial well-being and securing the financial future of their clients.


1. Edith Myers & Co: Edith is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) operating her own firm in Boston, Massachusetts. She offers a comprehensive range of services such as tax planning, investment management, retirement planning, and estate planning to her clients, integrating the facets of tax and financial planning to maximize wealth and minimize tax liabilities.2. Tri-Star Wealth Management: Tri-Star Wealth Management is an accounting firm based in San Francisco, California where several PFS professionals are employed. These professionals work alongside other team members to ensure all aspects of a client’s financial life are being managed effectively – from overseeing their investments and retirement plans to advising on insurance coverage and estate planning.3. James Henderson, PFS: James is an independent financial advisor in Houston, Texas. As a PFS, he advises clients on managing their personal finances. His services include developing a plan for reducing debt, advising on investment strategies, and planning for future goals such as home ownership, eventual retirement, or beginning a college fund for children.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)?

A Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) is a professional designation given by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) to CPAs who specialize in personal financial planning. They are equipped with skills to help individuals manage their finances and achieve their financial goals.

What qualifications are needed to become a PFS?

To qualify as a PFS, one must be an active CPA, sign a statement of intent to comply with the requirements of the PFS credential, earn certain personal financial planning (PFP) experience, pass the PFS examination, and meet continuing education requirements.

How does a PFS differ from a regular CPA?

While a CPA focuses on a broad range of accounting and tax tasks, a PFS is a CPA who further specializes in personal financial planning. This includes aspects, such as retirement, estate planning, investments, and risk management.

Why might I need a Personal Financial Specialist?

A PFS can provide focused advice and planning around your personal financial situation. This can help you to make informed decisions about investment opportunities, help manage your taxes effectively, plan your retirement, or tackle other complex financial issues.

How often should I meet with a PFS?

The frequency of meetings can be decided between you and your PFS based on your individual needs and the complexity of your financial situation. Some individuals may meet with their PFS quarterly, while others may only need an annual review.

Can a PFS help with tax planning?

Yes, tax planning is a significant part of what a Personal Financial Specialist does. They are equipped to understand the tax implications of various financial decisions and can help maximize tax strategies for your benefit.

Who oversees and grants the PFS designation?

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is responsible for overseeing the credentialing process, granting the designation, and ensuring that PFS’s comply with their high standards of ethical practice.

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