A CFP® certificant is an individual who has successfully completed the initial and ongoing certification requirements established by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. (CFP Board). CFP® practitioners voluntarily submit to the certification requirements in order to demonstrate their competence and expertise as a financial planner. Anyone may call themselves a financial planner, but only those who meet the CFP Board’s certification requirements may use the CFP® and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ marks. To obtain the CFP® certification, individuals must complete a rigorous process that includes education, examination, experience, and ethical requirements.
Education: CFP® professionals must fulfill the education requirement in one of three ways: (1) Complete a comprehensive financial planning education program registered with the CFP Board, (2) Apply based on previously obtained professional certifications or academic degrees, (3) Submit a transcript to the CFP Board for review of qualifying financial planning education. CFP® professionals must also graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited college or university.
Examination: CFP® practitioners must pass a two-day, ten-hour exam administered by the CFP Board. The CFP® exam evaluates the individual’s ability to comprehend, analyze, and apply their knowledge to real-life financial planning situations. Exam topics include general financial planning principles, risk management and insurance planning, investment planning, retirement planning, employee benefits planning, income tax planning, and estate planning.
Experience: CFP® professionals must complete at least three years of full-time qualifying work experience before becoming certified. The CFP Board defines qualifying work experience as the supervision, direct support, teaching, or personal delivery of any or all parts of the personal financial planning process to a client. By obtaining the required work experience, individuals are given time to develop and enhance their skills in the financial planning process.
Ethics: CFP® practitioners must abide by the CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Practice Standards. CFP® professionals agree to act in their clients’ best interest and pursue the highest ethical standards in the financial planning process. The CFP Board may terminate the CFP® certification of individuals who do not abide by these standards. CFP® certificates must also submit to a background check and disclose any current or past involvement in legal investigations or proceedings regarding their professional conduct.
Renewal: CFP® professionals must renew their certification with the CFP Board every two years. To qualify for renewal, CFP® professionals must complete at least thirty hours of continuing education every two years. The continuing education is related to personal financial planning topics and helps CFP® practitioners stay current with industry developments. Two of the thirty continuing education hours are related to a review of the CFP Board’s Code of Ethics andPractice Standards. CFP® professionals must also disclose any public, civil, criminal, or disciplinary actions taken against them since their last certification renewal.
The CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification is held in high regard for a reason. By voluntarily submitting to the CFP Board’s strenuous certification requirements, CFP® practitioners demonstrate their passion for excellence in personal financial planning. Financial planning consumers want to be confident in the knowledge, skills, and ethical standards of their financial planners. As a result, many consumers demand a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional.
Sources: Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.