Entry by Jennifer Allan

The Future of ACRE - Should we include a competence component?


This came up in another thread today (https://www.theconsultingtimes.com/exchange/forum/archives/2012/01/the-future-of-acre---rebranding.html) as whether or not the To-Be-Rebranded ACRE designation should include a competence component - that is - in order to receive the designation, should you have to demonstrate competence? And if so, how?

Personally, I believe that it should. That if someone is going to proclaim themselves to be a "certified" or "accredited" real estate consultant, it should be safe to assume that they have a higher level of expertise and competence... whether that is demonstrated with additional designations (e.g. CRS, GRI or my Exceptional Agent Project), or years of experience or number of closings, or....???



Do you know how financial planners become CFPs? I wonder if you could explore their model.

I earned a designation I don't advertise. Course was the book + a 20 question test you had to fax in. The questions were easy enough to answer without opening the book. In my mind that designation was crap. The info in the book was good but the logo means nothing to me and I don't use it.

Check this out from the CFP website:



1 | Complete the Education Requirement

Before applying for the CFP® Certification Examination, you need to complete the education requirements set by CFP Board. You can fulfill the education requirement through one of three paths:

Complete a CFP Board-Registered Education Program
There are more than 300 academic programs at colleges and universities across the country from which to choose.
These programs include credit and non-credit certificate programs, undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
They use various delivery formats and schedules, including classroom instruction, self-study and online delivery.
Many of CFP Board's Registered Programs also offer in-house educational programs for individual companies.

Apply for Challenge Status
Certain degrees and professional credentials fulfill the educational requirement and allow you to sit for the
CFP® Certification Examination.

Academic degrees and credentials that fulfill the educational requirements include:

  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA) - inactive license acceptable
  • Licensed attorney - inactive license acceptable
  • Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®)
  • Doctor of Business Administration
  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
  • Ph.D. in business or economics
  • Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU)

Request a Transcript Review
Certain industry credentials recognized by CFP Board, or the successful completion of upper-division level college courses, may satisfy some or all of the education requirements set by CFP Board.

Capstone Course Requirement
Beginning in 2012, the education requirements for CFP®certification will include completion of a financial plan development course registered with CFP Board. Learn more >

More information on the Education Requirement

Bachelor's Degree Requirement
A bachelor's degree (or higher), or its equivalent,1 in any discipline, from an accredited college or university2 is required to attain CFP® certification. The bachelor's degree requirement is a condition of initial certification; it is not a requirement to be eligible to take the CFP® Certification Examination. After you pass the CFP® Certification Examination, you will be required to provide evidence (official transcript from the degree-granting institution) that you hold a qualified bachelor's degree or higher degree.

1 International degrees may be substituted for a U.S. undergraduate degree if they receive equivalency from a third-party evaluation agency which is a member of National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES)www.NACES.org. Applicants should request a document-by-document evaluation.
2 An "accredited college or university" is one that has been accredited by an accreditation body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. To confirm a school's accreditation please visit the Department of Education's Web site(ope.ed.gov/accreditation/Search.aspx).

More information on the Bachelor's Degree Requirement

2 | Pass the CFP® Certification Examination

The CFP® Certification Examination tests your ability to apply your financial planning knowledge to client situations. The 10-hour exam is divided into three separate sessions. Because of the integrated nature of financial planning, however, each session may cover all topic areas. All questions are multiple choice, including those questions related to case problems.

The exam is administered three times a year - generally on the third Friday and Saturday of March, July and November - at about 50 domestic locations. The application deadline is approximately seven weeks prior to each exam date (e.g., February 1, June 1 and October 1). To apply to take the exam, complete the online applicationdownload an application or call 800-487-1497 to have one mailed to you. Completed applications, including payment of the $595 fee, must be received by the deadlines printed on the applications - there are no exceptions.

More information on the Exam Requirement

3 | Meet the Experience Requirement

At least three years of qualifying full-time work experience are required for certification. Qualifying experience includes work that can be categorized into one of the six primary elements of the personal financial planning process. Experience can be gained in a number of ways including:

  • the delivery of all, or of any portion, of the personal financial planning process to a client.
  • the direct support or supervision of individuals who deliver all, or any portion, of the personal financial planning process to a client.
  • teaching all, or any portion, of the personal financial planning process.

More information on the Experience Requirement

4 | Pass Fitness Standards for Candidates and Registrantsand Background Check

Applicants for CFP® certification must pass CFP Board’s Fitness Standards for Candidates and Registrants, which describe conduct that will or may bar an individual from being certified.

For example, conduct that is presumed to be unacceptable includes one personal or business bankruptcy filed within five years prior to completing the CFP® Certification Application. Individuals that have filed for bankruptcy in that time frame must petition CFP Board’s Disciplinary and Ethics Commission for reconsideration of the presumptive bar. CFP Board’s Disciplinary and Ethics Commission may, at its discretion, grant or deny the petition.

After you have met the education, examination and work experience requirements, you must disclose past or pending litigation or agency proceedings and agree to abide by CFP Board's Code of Ethics and Professional ResponsibilityRules of Conduct and Financial Planning Practice Standards. A background check will also be conducted.

More information on the Ethics Requirement

5 | Pay Certification Fees

Upon successfully completing the first three steps, fees will apply as follows:


  • A one-time, non-refundable initial certification application fee of $100 for the background checks as noted above.
  • The non-refundable annual certification fee of $325.

6 | Receive Authorization to Use the CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and  marks.



Wow... I'll have to look at this again later, but wow.

Here's a follow-up question...

Do we want the to-be-rebranded ACRE program to be a meaningful designation or simply a career development course that helps an agent implement a consulting model?

I can go either way; in fact, I'm not a huge fan of designations since most consumers have no idea what they mean. So, if we just want *our* program to be primarily about career development, I'm fine with that. But if we want it to be something meaningful to the public and to other agents, I do think competence needs to be in there somewhere...

I'd like to see a competence component, although I too am stumped as to how you would measure it so that it is meaningful.  I don't like years of experience, because I don't understand how some I have seen with years of experience have ever closed a deal.  Plus I'm a newer agent, so I don't want to be ruled out, when my very first clients told me I was highly competent (without my asking).  And I agree it should be something substantive; I'm not opposed to explaining to my clients exactly what it entailed.


Now, I don't know? It is quite alot of material to digest. Rebranding and relauching  is probably needed.  

We need marketing that has the ability to show a seller and buyer why our consultative selling in real estate is a better option for them. And marketing that entices the traditional operating Broker why consulting is an option that will increase his revenues.

I know we have that. Maybe we just need to update and refresh.

Does that make sense? 

I think William and I are on the same page. I like rebranding and relaunching. I think you just need to tweak it a bit. You don't need to turn your world upside down. Eat the elephant one bite at a time. 

Marketing materials that explain what consulting is and offering OPTIONS is enough, in my opinion, to start. 

A package or text book to walk people thru it, great. A white sheet to explain to a broker how to implement this into his traditional practice if an agent wants to explore it.

An entire designation -- take your time. Digest and settle in. Don't allow this to overwhelm you or you will burn out.

Happy New Year to all! Enjoyed the discussions the past few days. 

Instead of a designation, perhaps the purpose of the new ACRE is to establish new standards?  Instead of a "kit" discussed on another thread, perhaps there are standards that we agree to meet as the designee.  This includes the consulting process outlined by Merv.  It would be customized and flexible for each agent, but the main elements would need to be there and the process followed. The group could offiically define what "real estate consulting" means. Maybe it's not even a designation, but a new term. Instead of introducing yourself as a Realtor, you say "I'm a <insert clever name here>." And we define the term.

I do think there needs to be some kind of campaign to the consumer, though. I think about this a lot.  Had a lot of conversations with friends over the holidays about the real estate industry and guess how the conversation went? They always talked about their house. Their experience.  People don't care how we get paid.  They want to sell their house.  They want to buy the right home and get a deal.  How can we translate what we do so that it matters to them? To get them to pay attention? Hell, I'd be happy if people just starting interviewing agents instead of working with their mom's friend's niece who lives 45 miles away. But I'm not bitter.

This is what ad agencies get paid millions to do. Take a complex concept and reduce it down to the simplest benefit.  So it's certainly not easy! We're up against established firms who will dismiss anything we do as discounting.

I've been toying with the idea of writing a blog post titled "It's YOUR Fault the industry hasn't changed" and blaming the consumer for not demanding more.  Probably not the best approach, but maybe it would get people talking. Sometimes you have to stir the pot.

Good Morning,  When we started Nucazza and began to get some interest from consumers that was one of the front and foremost questions, "How did they become an Acre" and "Do they all do it the same way".  Although the franchise idea is far off at his point, i like the idea that the Franchise makes the rules that the franchisee must abide too.  Consumers like sameness

I think it would be useful to make a little more of the last part of the ACRE training course where we determined our fees.   Then carry that a step farther and have the applicant submit a workable fee schedule.  Then (and included in the price of the course)  a 6-week getting started assignment program similar to the SWS for Life program -- but focused on fee-based services and generating income from it.  I beleive that  once people are launched from this kind of help, (Jennifer's SWS kind of help)  they will be off and running.   And many more members will be practicing  fee-based services.   

I would like to see a competency component along with a marketing strategy for consumers.  I am a certified vocal instructor  - an attempt to change the music industry similiar to how consulting could change the real estate industry.  I think their model, which has evovled over about 20 years, could adapted.  The certification requires a pre-cert period where the candidate is required to study and take a certain number of lessons, then a test at the end of the study time - also a test that can be taken over and over again to pass and the answers obtained from a lesson if needed.  Then, there is an annual training conference, and annual testing requirements.  I think the model could be adapted for consulting - along with a marketing strategy.   There is a small admin fee per year to pay for all of this - payable in installment.

There is some value for the consumer if they know there is a consistent accountability system that means  " ACRE consultant".  

Hilary - I'd love to see that blog... I'm always up for some good pot-stirring.

I'd like to share my initial gut reaction to the idea of a franchise or otherwise systematized approach to consulting.

Many of you don't know what I teach over at SWS, but I've never considered a successful real estate career to be a volume business - that is - that you need to come up with the most aggressive marketing and persuasive branding so as to attract a whole bunch of strangers into your midst. In fact, I often advise agents NOT to spend their money, time and energy on marketing projects that market to the masses because one real estate agent/practitioner/consultant simply doesn't have the budget or the skills to do it effectively.

But more so than that, good real estate business comes in one warm body at a time and the fact is that most people will hire the person they know, like and trust, not the person who has the biggest billboard or flashiest logo. Sure, big brands do attract potential customers, but it's still up to the individual practitioner to "convert" those leads (ugh, hate that word) into clients.

My point is that my approach to attracting good real estate business - consulting or othewise - is less about mass-marketing and more about quality relationships and service. Basically, the more people who know you, like you, trust you and know what you do for a living, the more paying clients you will have.

That said, I'm not at all opposed to creating some sample business plans and models to help individual practitioners get a consulting business up and running, but I don't want to imply that we want to control how someone structures their business. We're all entrepreneurs; at least the people I WANT to attract to our world are - and I don't know about you, but I don't want to be told how to run my business!

Paula - I love that idea of an SWS4Life sort of thing... for those who have no idea what that is - it's a program where you get daily emails for seven weeks with little "assignments" to do that day to help you build your business. It's fairly low-octane and fun, but if you actually DO most of the assignments, you really should see great results from it. Gonna think on that some more...

Linda - good stuff as well... Hmmmmm.... lots to think about... I love that ;-]

One thing I'd like to add to the Competence debate is that whether or not we add a competence component to the ACRE designation isn't likely to affect our ability (or lack thereof) to attract clients and thus enjoy successful businesses. No designation, no matter how rigorous it was to get it, is a magic bullet. Shoot, you can spend years getting your JD, CPA or MD, but if once you get out in the real world aren't able to find paying clients to serve, that degree is meaningless from an income-generating perspective.

So, when I ask the question if we want our designation to include a competence component, it's not because I think THAT's the magic bullet that will make all ACREs' phones ring with clients beating down the door to be served. It more about what best prepares each of us to Go Forth and Succeed, using what we've learned in class to help us do that.

Don't get me wrong - I'm passionate about improving the competence level of the real estate industry because I believe that if we don't, we'll all be out of work as we become less and less necessary or even useful to the consumer as a group. But simply requiring a level of competence or expertise in a designation isn't going to change anyone's life or business unless they're USING that competence and expertise in their day-to-day practice.

Does this make any sense?

This page contains a single entry by Jennifer Allan published on January 2, 2012 5:01 PM.

The Future of ACRE - REBranding was the previous entry in this blog.

The Single Greatest Factor of Success in Business is the next entry in this blog.

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