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Exam Code: CTFA Certified Trust and Financial Advisor (CTFA) thinking November 2023 by team

CTFA Certified Trust and Financial Advisor (CTFA)

The knowledge areas below are the basis for the Certified Trust and Financial Advisor (CTFA) examination. These
knowledge areas were derived from a job analysis study and were validated by the CTFA Advisory Board. Postcertification programs that address these knowledge areas are eligible for CTFA continuing education credits through the American Bankers Association.

I. Fiduciary & Trust Activities (25%)

A. Nature and Characteristics of Account Relationship

1. Trusts

2. Estates

3. Guardianships/ Conservatorships

4. Custodians

5. Financial and Health Care Powers of Attorney

6. Agencies

B. Formal Requisites of Establishing Account

1. Written Agreements or Documents

2. Trust Situs

3. Acceptance of Fiduciary Appointment

4. Disclaiming of Interest

C. Fiduciary Responsibilities

1. Powers

2. Duties

3. Uniform Acts/Codes

4. Safekeeping of Assets

5. Environmental Issues

D. Investment Responsibilities

1. Investment Powers

2. Investment Types & Restrictions

3. Sale/Retention by Bank of Its Own Holding Company Securities

4. Prudent Investor

E. Receipts, Payments and Distributions

1. Duty in Making Payments or Distributions

2. Uniform Principal & Income Act

F. Accounting and Compensation

1. Duty to Keep Records

2. Duty to Furnish Information

to Beneficiaries

3. Duty to Render Court Accountings

4. Fiduciary Compensation

G. Alteration or Termination of the Trust

1. Power to Change Terms

2. Power to Revoke or Terminate

H. Regulatory/Compliance

1. Due Diligence

2. Know Your Customer

3. Privacy Issues

4. Bank Secrecy Act

5. OCC Regulation 9

6. Securities Laws

II. Financial Planning (25%)

A. Personal Finance

1. Time Value of Money Principles

2. Statement of Assets and Liabilities

3. Cash Flow Management

4. Debt Management

5. Investment Planning

6. Education Planning

7. Health Care & Disability Planning

B. Retirement

1. Capital Sufficiency

2. Investment Strategies

3. Wealth Accumulation & Distribution

4. Social Security & Other Programs

5. IRAs

6. Qualified and non-Qualified Plans

7. Income Needs & Sources

C. Insurance

1. Life Insurance

2. Long Term Care Insurance

3. Disability

4. Annuities

5. Health Insurance

6. Property/Casualty Insurance

7. Insurance Company, Product, and Intermediary Selection Criteria

D. Transfer Assistance

1. Wealth Transfer During Lifetime

2. The Flow of Property at Death

3. Business Succession Planning

4. Planning Documents

5. Planning Considerations

6. Charitable Giving Strategies

7. Special Needs Planning

E. Financial Modeling

1. Risk Assessment

2. Asset Allocation

III. Tax Law & Planning (25%)

A. Income Tax

1. Individuals

2. Fiduciaries

3. Charitable Trusts, Private Foundations, and Split Interest Trusts

4. Business

B. Transfer Tax

1. Gift Tax

2. Estate Tax

3. Generation-Skipping Transfers (GST)

IV. Investment Management (20%)

A. Economics and Markets

1. Gross Domestic Product

2. Interest Rates

3. Inflation & Employment

4. Government Fiscal Policy

5. Monetary Policy

6. International Influences

7. Market Operations

8. Currency

B. Portfolio Management Theories and Concepts

1. Modern Portfolio Theory

2. Equity Investment Management Approaches

3. Fixed Income Investment Management Approaches

4. Hedging Strategies

5. Risk Management

6. Total Return

C. Types of Investments/Selection & Analysis

1. Equities

2. Fixed Income

3. Convertible Securities

4. Mutual Funds

5. Common Trust Funds

6. Closely-Held Businesses

7. Real Estate & Farms

8. International

9. Nontraditional

10. Master Limited Partnerships

11. Stock Options

12. ETFs

13. Oil, Gas & Minerals

14. Commodities & Precious Metals

D. Client Objectives & Constraints

1. Investment Objectives

2. Risk Tolerance

3. Time Horizons

4. Tax Considerations

5. Current vs Future Objectives 6. Investment Restrictions & Preferences

7. Asset Allocation

E. Performance Measurement

1. Time-Weighted vs. Dollar-Weighted

2. Risk Adjusted

3. Benchmarks & Indicies

V. Ethics (5%)

A. Advisory

1. Unauthorized Practice of Law

2. Conflict of Interest

3. Confidentiality

4. Undue Influence

5. Related Parties

6. Client Competence/Capacity

B. Fiduciary

1. Duty of Loyalty

2. Breach of Trust

3. Trust Officer as Beneficiary

4. Personal Liability

5. Self Dealing

6. Gifts to/from Clients & Vendors

C. Business Development

1. Business Solicitation

2. Compensation Arrangements

D. Investment

1. Insider Information

2. Equal Treatment of Accounts

3. Directed Brokerage

4. Disclosures

5. Prudent Investor Standard

E. Other

1. Relationship with Other Professionals

2. Fraud Prevention
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Certified Trust and Financial Advisor (CTFA)
Question: 440
A person purchased a share of common stock exactly one year ago for $45.
During the past year the common stock paid an annual dividend of $2.40. The person sold the
security today for $85. What is the rate of return the firm has earned?
A. 5.3%
B. 194.2%
C. 88.9%
D. 94.2%
Answer: D
Question: 441
A set of possible values that a random variable can assume and their associated probabilities
of occurrence are referred to as __________.
A. Probability distribution
B. The expected return
C. The standard deviation
D. Co-efficient of variation
Answer: A
Question: 442
A statistical measure of the variability of a distribution around its mean is referred to as
A. Probability distribution
B. The expected return
C. The standard deviation
D. Co-efficient of variation
Answer: C
Question: 443
The weighted average of possible returns, with the weights being the probabilities of
occurrence is referred to as __________.
A. Probability distribution
B. The expected return
C. The standard deviation
D. Co-efficient of variation
Answer: B
Question: 444
Which of the following statements regarding covariance is correct?
A. Covariance always lies in the range -1 to +1
B. Covariance, because it involves a squared value, must always be a positive number (or
C. Low co-variances among returns for different securities leads to high portfolio risk
D. Co-variances can take on positive, negative, or zero values
Answer: D
Question: 445
Total portfolio risk is __________.
A. Equal to systematic risk plus non-diversifiable risk
B. Equal to avoidable risk plus diversifiable risk
C. Equal to systematic risk plus unavoidable risk
D. Equal to systematic risk plus diversifiable risk
Answer: D
Question: 446
It is a market condition normally associated with investor optimism, economic recovery, and
expansion; characterized by generally rising securities prices.
A. Bear market
B. Bull market
D. Dealers market
Answer: B
Question: 447
______________ is a condition of the markets typically associated with investor pessimism
and economic slowdown; characterized by generally falling securities prices.
A. Bear market
B. Bull market
D. Dealers market
Answer: B
Question: 448
A person who buys and sells securities on behalf of clients and gives them investment advice
and information is called:
A. Stockholder
B. Account executive
C. Financial consultant
D. All are one and the same
Answer: D
Question: 449
A broker is:
A. Far more than a salesperson
B. Mostly interested in his own commission
C. May not be socially known
D. Can trade your stock without your permission
Answer: A, B
Question: 450
A broker who, in addition to executing clients transactions, offers a full array of brokerage
services is:
A. Full-service broker
B. Discount broker
C. Online broker
D. OTC broker
Answer: A
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Ramit Sethi’s rich life is having a desk in front of a nice bookcase that displays treasures from travels, and not some fake background he’s stolen off the Internet. This is the version of Sethi most people get to see these days on social media, where the money-advice guru posts clips of his podcast conversations with regular people about their finances. He’s got his headphones on, a big microphone in front of him, and he’s staring intently into the camera. 

“This is my dream setup, to have a real bookshelf with my favorite things on it,” says Sethi, 41, waving toward the background of his study of his house in Los Angeles, where he has settled with his wife, and is doing an interview over video conference. For many people, this kind of virtual meeting would be a rather lacking experience. But we’ve come a long way in the last three years since the pandemic started, and being in the same room with somebody is no longer the first key to intimacy. 

Maybe that’s part of the reason that Sethi is having such a big moment in the personal finance advice world. He’s not the first author with a personal finance book, or blog or podcast, all of which he bundles under his brand of “I Will Teach You To Be Rich.” But he’s one of the few who have connected so intimately and directly with his audience. He has not only kept that going for years, but his reach actually increased dramatically in the Zoom era. An eight-episode Netflix show released in spring 2023 called “How to Get Rich” took him to a new level after 19 years of effort. In rankings within the streaming service, it spent one week in the global top 10 in the category of TV in English, and reached the top 10 in 23 countries, according to Netflix. He is also on The MarketWatch 50 list of the most influential people in markets

“It’s humbling that it’s possible that more people heard about me in a week than maybe heard about me in about 20 years of doing what I’ve been doing. That feels just a little dizzying to me,” Sethi says. 

The fame hasn’t exactly gone to his head, but it does create something of a disconnect at the valet station. Sethi says that after the Netflix show came out, he was feeling a little overwhelmed and didn’t leave his house for two days. Then he finally went out to lunch with a friend and after they were outside waiting for his car, somebody came up and stared at him. 

“They finally said, ‘Oh, you’re the rich guy!” says Sethi. “And I thought to myself, ok, so this is what I’m going to be called for the next 10 years of my life.” 

And then the driver pulled up with his car, a 2005 Honda Accord that Sethi bought a year out of college when his blog was just getting going, and he drove to his rental home. 

“The Accord is a fantastic, sensible sedan – and I rent by choice. I also enjoy spending a lot of money on the things that I love,” he says. He often blogs about those things: a major amount of traveling, designer clothes and a personal trainer. “That’s the whole point of my philosophy, that you can spend extravagantly on the things you love, as long as you cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t.”

Another of his favorite rich life extravagances, despite the calories: Sometimes ordering two appetizers. 

“One of my greatest joys now is being able to easily afford ordering any appetizer that I love, and sometimes getting two, because when I was a kid, we didn’t order them at all,” he says. 

Sethi didn’t grow up poor, but his parents were Indian immigrants who made their way in the California suburbs, and that figures heavily into his relationship with money. He was taught to work hard, get into a good school and make something of himself. But he had to pay his own way for that, because there wasn’t money in the budget for tuition. So what he worked on the hardest at Bella Vista High School in Fair Oaks, Calif. was getting scholarships, and that was the start of his trademark obsessive, data-obsessed approach to tackling projects. He applied to 65 of them, and ended up getting enough to pay for an undergraduate degree at Stanford, then graduate school. 

Now, he sees his upbringing as part of what helps him relate to all sorts of people. “Representation really matters, and I think that we’re seeing this happen first on the outer edges of personal finance, on sites like TikTok, where you have this incredibly diverse array of young influencers who are sharing their experiences with money. It doesn’t follow the typical playbook of a certified financial planner, and I think there’s something beautiful about that,” he says. 

Shouting into the void

The blog and the whole “I Will Teach You to Be Rich” concept started after some failed investments with that scholarship cash. Sethi wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again, so he read up on the stock market and taught himself how to handle his own finances. Then he figured he could teach what he was learning to others as a moneymaking scheme. At first, he tried to do this in person, but nobody ever showed up. 

“My bet was that people wanted to learn about money, but the key is that they wanted to do it from the comfort of their home. They did not want to go to a seminar. I knew that because I had tried and failed at getting people to come to my free events,” Sethi says. 

Blogging in 2004 wasn’t exactly a revolutionary thing to do, but Sethi made it different by focusing more on the people commenting than about him spouting his own theories. He read every message and responded to each one. 

“It was just day-in and day-out,” he says. “I would write something, and then at the end, I’d say, reply to this email. And I’d read every single reply and, in fact, I used to write back to every single email that came in,” he says. “People felt like, wow, this guy’s actually listening to me. And, of course, I was.”

Sethi’s first real break came after months of relentlessly pitching coverage of his blog to major media outlets from his dorm room at Stanford. This was before you could easily look up how to contact editors, and he had to write letters and make phone calls to try to bring attention to his work. He told an editor at the New York Times that their personal finance coverage was great, but that it didn’t resonate with people of his generation – early Millennials, mostly – and wasn’t delivered in a way that they cared about. 

He was politely brushed off a lot, but then The Wall Street Journal noticed and mentioned his blog in a story. He got a book deal a short while later, thanks to similar hustle, and by 2009, he was considered the personal finance voice of his generation – called Generation Y’s favorite personal finance adviser by Fortune, among other accolades. “So the world has noticed now too,” he says. 

It still took a decade more of plugging away to reach the level where he is now, though. He was blogging and interacting with his audience daily on every channel possible, just doing the work, until a decade had passed and he set about writing a second edition of his book. Sethi still reads every message he gets, but he no longer is able to answer each person himself. There are just too many ways he’s reaching people – 700,000 followers on Instagram, 275,000 on X (Twitter), 320,000 on YouTube, 75,000 on TikTok at the end of October, plus his untold number of blog followers and podcast listeners across many platforms. 

“His real edge is he’s probably spoken to more people – between in-person and online – than most financial planners ever have,” says Nick Maggiulli, a fellow personal finance blogger and author (“Of Dollars and Data”) who is friends with Sethi. “I think he enjoys the process of understanding human behavior and has a deep understanding of it. With trolls, a lot of people say, ‘I’ll just ignore them,’ but he likes to see the pathway to their thinking. I don’t know many people who do that.”

Sethi says his blog and really his whole philosophy is just psychology disguised as personal finance. “My unending fascination is with human behavior,” he says. “I read literally thousands of emails and comments every day because I love understanding how people think and talk and act with money. It’s so important to surround yourself with everyday people and not simply multimillionaires who started some tech company.”

What he’s preaching

The tenets of “I Will Teach You To Be Rich” are core personal finance – save smart, have an emergency fund, invest for the long-term in low-fee index funds and manage your spending smartly. But Sethi’s approach and tenor present these concepts in a new way for an audience that doesn’t want to be scolded for buying lattes instead of saving for a down payment for a house. 

“If the book was entitled “Basic Principles of Financial Planning,” I don’t think it would have sold,” says Dan Solin, a personal finance expert who Sethi mentions in his book because he admires Solin’s work. The respect goes both ways. “Who doesn’t want to be rich? And who doesn’t want to be rich after a few hours of studying a book? But he then delivers on the message to those like you and me,” Solin adds. 

There are several key elements of the IWTY philosophy that are contrarian. One is that homeownership is not the be-all of financial planning. Another is that big banks are out to get you, so you should learn to manage your money on your own without paying huge fees to somebody else. And don’t even get Sethi started on the new trend of buy-now-pay-later microloans, of which he says, “I’m not a big fan.”

“One of the reasons people come to me and stick with me, is deep down, they are looking for somebody who will tell them the truth. They want to know what’s a good bank and what’s a bad bank and they want you to name names,” says Sethi. “Most of all, they want somebody showing them a vision that money can be fun. It’s not always drudgery, like hoarding it and swimming in it like Scrooge McDuck.”

This honesty is what appeals to Brad Koontz, another fellow behavioral finance expert and author who is also a Sethi fan. “Most personal finance people just say save, save, save, and Sethi is about how money is meant to be spent. I appreciate his ability to challenge the gospel, and I think that resonates with a younger audience,” says Koontz. “There’s a sense of authenticity.”

Dreams come true

In the second volume of the book version of “I Will Teach You to Be Rich,” which was published in 2019, Sethi wrote what seemed like a throwaway passage: “My fantasy is to host a TV show where couples have their first conversations about money together.” 

He delved into it further: “No, I’m not going to mediate it. I’ll just be sitting in the background stirring the pot with crazy money questions (“What’s a money secret you haven’t told your partner yet?), eating chips and salsa, grinning as I watch the nervous hands, the sweaty foreheads, and the stammering words. Damn, I live for this shit. HBO, provide me a call.”

A year or so later, it was Netflix that came calling, making it a little like an afterschool-special version of visualizing your future. 

“It’s crazy. Isn’t it?” Sethi says. “Oh my God, I wrote this down, and then it actually happened. I mean, I love reality TV, I love talking about money, I love a little drama, put those together and you end up with a podcast or maybe, with a lot of luck, an international TV show, and then it happened.”

Sethi says that he knows the Netflix execs who handled his show read his book, but nobody ever talked to him about that particular passage. Once he started negotiating the deal, he started to test the dynamics with a series of “fireside chats”on Instagram Live. He’d literally be in front of a fire, and he’d talk to a couple over video conference about their money. That morphed into a proper podcast that continues on. 

The ironic thing about the Netflix show for Sethi’s career is that it might end up to be just a blip compared to his podcast, which may be what he was meant to be doing all along. 

“I knew right away that it was what I wanted to do,” he says. 

A podcast allows Sethi to stay in touch with his audience frequently and have more dialogue than just a text format. He can delve deep into conversations with guests and allow all the human drama to spill out onto the screen – the stammering and sweating – and he can do it all without the fussiness and preparation needed for a TV production.

The audience’s situations never get old to him, and he never gets frustrated facing the same questions over and over. “I get the same questions literally 50 times a day,” he says. “I love it.”

One of the core ones is: Where should I put my money if I’m saving it for a down payment?

“Look, the answer is you put it in a high yield savings account. So I think, maybe don’t ask this question again. It’s a solved problem. I posted something like that, and I got so many people to respond. They wrote back, well, what about Treasury bills?”

Then the back-and-forth continued, because Sethi’s philosophy is that most people are not going to go out and buy Treasury bills, and he knows this because he listens to them over and over, for the 50 times a day they ask him about this same topic. He wants to provide them advice that will make a difference to them, and he says, “normal people do not know what a Treasury bill is and they do not care. You could become incredibly wealthy without ever knowing what a Treasury bill is. And you would only understand this if you were talking to people like I do. Half the people who listen to my podcast don’t even know how much money they make.”

That said, Sethi’s audience is growing in age and sophistication along with him. He started out talking about basic investing for young, single professionals, for instance, and now, as a married 40-something, his focus is more on couples and their money dynamics. It’s not hard to see a future volume of “I Will Teach You To Retire” in the offing. But first, maybe a few other things might intercede. 

“I think that money and parenting is becoming a hotter Topic than ever before, and I get messages daily,” Sethi says. And someday, even, Sethi might settle down and become a homeowner, despite his better instincts. 

“If there is a day when I buy a house, I know it’s going to be a terrible financial decision and we’re still going to do it anyway. And I’m pretty sure the internet is going to get extremely mad if we do,” he says. But ever the advice guru, he adds, “But you know, remember that the advice is to run the numbers, and not everybody should rent.”

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