Challenge exam program expected to swell CLU ranks

By Doug Watt | July 14, 2004 | Last updated on July 14, 2004
3 min read

(July 14, 2004) The number of advisors with the CLU designation could increase by as much as 1,000 as a result of a program that allows qualified candidates to obtain the mark by writing a single exam.

The challenge exam program was launched in February. Since then, 1,100 advisors have signed up, says CLU Institute head Terry Taylor. About 750 made it through the initial screening process, intended to weed out those who don’t have the experience to obtain the designation.

“The balance should have what it takes to pass the exam, in terms of experience, self-study and continuing education,” Taylor says.

The bridging program recognizes that many non-designated advisors may have the experience and knowledge to qualify for the insurance and estate planning mark, without going through the normal CLU route: completion of the CFP program combined with three specialized courses.

The first exam was held in April of this year, but no results will be released until the one-time-only program wraps up next year. “It would be misleading for those who haven’t written the exam yet,” Taylor explains.

“It was a challenging exam,” says John Barabe of Assante in Regina, who passed the test in April. “I think it was fair, but it certainly wasn’t easy. You have to know your stuff.”

Taylor says he’s been hearing much the same thing from others who have written the exam. “They’ve been saying that it wasn’t simple, but that it was fair and that it was a good test of knowledge.”

Barabe, a CFP who admits he’s a “bit excessive” when it comes to studying, says he put in about 200 hours of preparatory work for the exam.

Adam Shapiro of PPI Financial in Toronto found the exam to be “pretty straightforward.” But he notes as a chartered accountant, he has practised tax and estate planning for the last decade and recently completed the CFP program.

“So my preparations were really related to the insurance aspects. I didn’t have to dig deep in the tax and estate planning area,” Shapiro says.

Barabe and Shapiro, both members of Advocis, believe designations are important to help differentiate transactional-type advisors from the true financial planners.

“I deal with a lot of professionals, so for me it’s very important to have the designations,” says Shapiro. “It goes a long way in cementing me as the person they can talk to on a wide array of financial issues.”

Related News Story

  • Challenge exam option introduced for CLU designation
  • A second exam is scheduled for next month and the final test is in December. Candidates must submit qualifying criteria and be members of Advocis, which operates in partnership with the CLU Institute. One rewrite is allowed, with the last opportunity scheduled for April 2005.

    There are currently 3,600 advisors in Canada with the CLU designation. That number could increase by as much as 30% by the time the challenge exam program winds up next year. “I’m pretty comfortable that we’ll get 1,000 people or so going through the program,” says Taylor.

    Filed by Doug Watt,,


    Doug Watt