American Academy of Financial Management
The American Academy of Financial Management (AAFM) was a US-based board of standards, certifying body, and accreditation council focused on the finance sector and management professionals. It was criticized in the Wall Street Journal as having low requirements for the credentials it confers and for excessive claims of links to other associations and industry experts.
|Type||Certifying and accreditation body|
|Headquarters||Colorado Springs, Colorado|
|United States and overseas|
The AAFM was founded in 1996 through a merger of the American Academy of Financial Management & Analysts (AAFMA) and the Founders Advisory Committee of the Original Tax and Estate Planning Law Review.
In January 2015, the AAFM sold its intellectual property to the Global Academy of Finance & Management – the logo for which is the same as that of the AAFM with different letters – and the International Board of Certification Standards, which now awards the AAFM's certifications in the United States. According to the GAFM website, George Mentz, the founder of the AAFM, is also the founder of GAFM/IBS brands. In some other countries, such as India, a rump of the AAFM still operates.
The AAFM offered multiple professional membership, certifications, and designations. Members had to have come through one of the AAFM-recognized university programs or through a government-recognized executive educational program, although the board waived these requirements in some cases. The AAFM board has never directly provided training, but has recognized hundreds of approved providers. 
The AAFM awarded a number of its own designations, including chartered asset manager (CAM), chartered market analyst (CMA), chartered portfolio manager (CPM), chartered trust and estate planner (CTEP), chartered wealth manager (CWM), and master financial professional (MFP).
Some of these designations were available to anyone with an accredited degree or license in finance, investments, securities, economics, or accounting upon payment of a fee. CWM certification normally involved about 80 hours of online study, although holders of certain professional designations, such as a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) or Certified Public Accountant (CPA), needed only to take a test and pay a fee; and anyone with sufficient professional experience could skip the test and get the designation by only paying fees. Those with a degree that involved at least some business coursework could also take an AAFM certification course, pay a fee, and receive an MFP.
According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) eight designations were "offered and recognized by the issuing organization" (i.e., AAFM). FINRA does not state on these pages that they, or anyone else, recognises them. FINRA does state that it does not approve or endorse any professional credential or designation listed on its website.
Criticism and evidence
In October 2010, the Wall Street Journal published an article detailing the use of questionable credentials by financial advisors that discussed the AAFM extensively. The article noted that the AAFM included among its Global Board of Academic Advisors & Professors several individuals who had never given their permission to be listed as board members. The article criticized the practice of many standards boards, AAFM included, of awarding credentials without requiring applicants to undergo any sort of assessment or examination, quoting the AAFM's founder, George Mentz, as evidence of this practice.
A claim on the AAFM website that it had a special affiliation with both the CFA Institute and the CFP Board, which administer Chartered Financial Analyst and Certified Financial Planner certificate programs, respectively, was rebutted by representatives of both organizations in the article. The CFP Board said that the AAFM had once helped provide continuing education for CFPs, but that it hasn't done so since 2006. Some of the individuals listed in a board of advisors told the WSJ they had no idea they were listed and hadn't agreed to it.
The AAFM has countered that individuals listed on its board of advisors did consent to be listed, posting emails from two individuals on its website. The organization also posted to its website part of the signature page of a document agreeing that the Association for Investment Management Research (the precursor to the CFA Institute) would not contest the AAFM's trademarks, with the signature itself blanked and replaced with the type-written statement, "Signed by Sharon Glover, who must have been Jeannie Andersons Boss at the time" [sic]. What appears to be a version of the same faxed agreement can be found on the GAFM website, with a signature by "Sharon Glover" and the handwritten information "VP & Assoc. General Counsel 1/5/04".
- "Is Your Wealth Manager Certifiable?", The Wall Street Journal: D1, October 27, 2004.
- "Is Your Advisor Pumping Up His Credentials?", The Wall Street Journal, October 16, 2010.
- "American Academy of Financial Management FAQ". Archived from the original on December 2, 2010. Retrieved December 6, 2010.
- "Home" GAFM website
- "Press" GAFM website
- "Board" GAFM website
- "Requirements". American Academy of Financial Management. Archived from the original on December 2, 2010. Retrieved December 6, 2010.
- CAM Archived July 27, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.,RFS Archived July 27, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.,MFP Archived August 14, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.,CWM Archived August 19, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. ,CTEP Archived August 19, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. ,CMA Archived August 19, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. ,CPM Archived August 19, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. ,FAD[permanent dead link]
- "FINRA Designations Lookup". Retrieved August 21, 2014.
- Recognized by Wall Street Journal Again, American Academy of Financial Management.
- CFA Contract (JPEG), AAFM.
- Copy of fax from C. Jeannie Anderson, Esq., Associate General Counsel, AIMR to Mr. George Mentz, AAFM, dated January 5, 2004 GAFM website