The Certified Exchange Specialist® (CES®) Program is a voluntary certification and continuing education program offered through the Federation of Exchange Accommodators (FEA) designed specifically for 1031 tax deferred exchange practitioners. Individuals are eligible to apply to sit for the examination after three years of full-time hands-on experience facilitating exchanges. The comprehensive examination covers an array of exchange-related topics designed to challenge the candidate’s knowledge of exchange rules and also their competency in performing the necessary daily activities of an exchange accommodator company. The exam also focuses on those ethical issues present when any third party controls the funds of another. As a CES® Designee, one is bound by the CES® Code of Ethics and Conduct and is required to maintain twenty (20) hours of continuing education within a two (2) year period.
The FEA established the voluntary CES® Certification & Continuing Education Program to enhance the professionalism and expertise of its exchange industry members. Over five years of research and planning went into the development and design of the CES® Program.
The CES® designation demonstrates to a property owner considering an exchange that the professional they have chosen possesses a certain level of experience and knowledge that meets professional standards. Just as when one selects an attorney, accountant or REALTOR®, it’s important to review the credentials of any professional advisor or organization prior to beginning a business relationship. An exchange professional bearing the CES® designation has demonstrated the high level of knowledge necessary in dealing with complex tax-deferred exchanges.
Margo McDonnell, Susan S. Umstead, Sanna Phinney and Richard M. Heller, Esq., CCIM were among the first exchange professionals to earn the Certified Exchange Specialist® designation in 2003. Chadley Isett, JD, earned his coveted CES® designation in 2006, Joseph Szajnecki earned his in 2004, and Marissa LoCascio in 2008.
Margo McDonnell spearheaded the industry’s efforts to launch the CES® Program and was awarded The 2003 President’s Award for Outstanding Dedication and Service to the Members of the Federation of Exchange Accommodators. She served as Chair of the CES® Certification Council from its inception through 2007 and was presented with The Margo McDonnell Certified Exchange Specialist® Perpetual Award for Outstanding Service by the Certification Council in October 2008. Sanna succeeded Margo as Chair of the Certification Council and served until 2011.
Sue and Marissa joined the CES® Certification Council in 2012 and Marissa served as the Co-Chair of the CES® Certification Council from 2016 to 2017.
Cindi Platt-Elliott, Grace Rivera, Kristen McVeigh and Sabrina Richards have also earned their CES® designation.