Nonprofit ICFE Help Professionals Expand Their Market with Niche Certification Programs

icfeSan Diego, CA. – Small business owners, like financial planner John Hobden of London, Ontario, Canada, was looking for a relatively quick way to expand his business.

What John discovered was a niche certification, the Certified SmartEquity Specialist (CSES™) program from the nonprofit Institute of Consumer Financial Education – ICFE, based in San Diego, CA. Hobden learned a new way – not the make an extra payment plan – to pay off his mortgage and lower the amount of his interest payments resulting in a tremendous savings of his time and money.

“My referral business has exploded to the point I’m having a hard time keeping up with the appointments. All I did was share my CSES™ course experience with my clients and helped them save thousands in loan interest payments,” he recalled. “I found by first helping clients free up cash flow and saving thousands of dollars in loan interest payments, they found it easy to get properly insured. The Certified SmartEquity Specialist program from the ICFE helped me both personally and professionally,” Mr. Hobden said.

Credit reporting, credit ratings and credit scores are another area of specialization for many different professionals. By becoming a Certified Credit Report Reviewer (CCRR®) through the ICFE, or a Certified Credit Repair Specialist (CCRS™) people can make an immediate impact on the lives of their clients and their credit reports. CCRRs® are trained to look for a wide variety of reporting irregularities and mistakes. CCRRs® also put in seminars on how to improve credit scores.

Another ICFE course is the Certified Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (CHECMS™). It fine-tune’s the real estate or mortgage person’s knowledge and how to help their clients navigate the reverse mortgage process.

The ICFE also has instructor training courses for “Make Your Move”, a first-time home buyers course, “Money in Motion”, “Money and Faith in Motion” and the “Money Instruction Book”. “Credit When Credit is Due” is one of the nation’s most popular consumer credit courses with almost a half million people enrolled or completing it.

The ICFE’s courses are accepted for continuing education (CE) credits by a wide variety of professional associations, state regulatory and licensing authorities, including the CFP® Board of Standards and Practices and the Association for Counseling and Planning Education.

A specialized certification may help a small businessperson land a sole source contract. For instance, many municipalities and private employers make Identity Theft Protection part of an employee’s benefit package. When they issue requests for proposals, most specify the individuals who work with their employees must have a CITRMS® XV designation. A certification could also land a professional a “preferred vendor” status with many companies and governmental employers.


The Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE) was founded as a non-profit organization in 1982 to help consumer improve spending habits, increase savings and use credit more wisely. Working in cooperation with government and business, the ICFE offers several certification programs with Continuing Education Units and Professional Development Units including Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist Program and the Certified Consumer “Debt Collection Compliance Specialist®. Paul S. Richard is the ICFE President and Executive Director. To learn more about ICFE visit their websites at and