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CFP® Certification Resources
FPA believes that everyone who holds themselves out as a financial planner should be a CFP certificant. So we provide tools and resources to support our members' professional development efforts in attaining the certification.
- What Is a CFP® Professional?
- Become a CFP® Certificant
- Career Development Tools
- Educational Programs
- Planners Around the World
What is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER Professional?
A CFP® professional is an individual who has a demonstrated level of financial planning technical knowledge, experience in the field and holds to a client-centered code of ethics.
Four E's to Becoming a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional
CFP practitioners develop theoretical and practical financial planning knowledge by completing a comprehensive course of study at a college or university offering a financial planning curriculum registered with the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.
CFP practitioners must pass a comprehensive two-day, 10-hour CFP Certification Examination that tests their ability to apply their financial planning knowledge in an integrated format. Based on regularly updated research of what planners do, the CFP Board's exam covers the general principles of financial planning, insurance planning and risk management, employee benefits planning, investment planning, income tax planning, retirement planning and estate planning.
CFP practitioners must have a minimum of three years' experience working in the financial planning process prior to earning the CFP® mark. As a result, CFP practitioners have demonstrated a working knowledge of counseling skills in addition to their financial planning knowledge.
As a final step to certification, CFP practitioners must pass an ethics review and agree to abide by the CFP Board's Financial Planning Practice Standards and a strict code of professional conduct, known as the CFP Board's Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility. The Code of Ethics states that CFP practitioners are to act with integrity, offering professional services that are objective and based on client needs.
It is also necessary for every CFP® certificant, once certified, to complete a re-certification every two years. Those seeking to maintain their certification must attain a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education in order to stay current with developments in the financial planning profession and to better serve their clients. Two of these hours must be spent studying the CFP Board's Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility or Financial Planning Practice Standards.
Why FPA Supports the CFP Designation
FPA works to serve the public by identifying ways consumers can find a competent, ethical financial planner. The CFP® mark represents the standard of education and ethics consumers should be able to expect from a financial planner. By supporting a single credible mark we can accelerate public recognition and acceptance of financial planning.
Requirements for Becoming a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER
(How Do You Attain Your CFP Certification? PDF - requires Acrobat Reader)
- Complete the education requirement. You can fulfill the education requirement through one of three paths: Complete a CFP Board-Registered Education Program; Apply for Challenge Status; Request a Transcript Review. There is a model curriculum of more than 100 topics, which must be tested and mastered in order to sit for the Certification Examination. The educational topics include: The Process of Financial Planning, Insurance Planning, Investment Planning, Income Tax Planning. Retirement and Employee Benefits Planning and Estate Planning.
- Pass the CFP Certification Examination. The CFP exam 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 topics. All questions are multiple choice, including those questions related to case problems. The examination is administered three times a year - generally on the third Friday and Saturday of March, July, November - at about 45 domestic locations. The application deadline is approximately seven weeks prior to each examination date(e.g. February 1, June 1, and October 1). Application forms can be downloaded at www.CFP-Board.org or mailed to you if you call 1-800-487-1497. Completed applications, including the payment of the $595 fee, must be received by the deadlines printed on the applications - there are no exceptions.
- 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.
- Adhere to the Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility and Pass Background Check. 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 the CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility and Financial Planning Practice Standards. A background check will also be conducted. If you have any questions about the affect of any past or pending action on your authorization to use the marks, you should contact CFP Board legal counsel directly at (303) 830-7500.
- 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 and a biennial certification fee of $300.
- Receive Authorization to use the CFP, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER, and marks.
- Continuing Educational Requirements: It is also necessary for every CFP certificant, once certified, to get re-certification every two years. Those seeking to maintain their certification must attain a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education, in order to stay current with developments in the financial planning profession to better serve their clients. Two of these hours must be spent studying the CFP Board's Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility or Financial Planning Practice Standards.