What is a Certified Financial Planner®?
The Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) designation is a professional certification mark for financial planners conferred by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board) in the United States. To receive authorization to use the designation, the candidate must meet education, examination, experience and ethics requirements, and pay an ongoing certification fee. This information relates specifically to CFP certification in the United States.
To earn the CFP Board designation, candidates must meet several requirements—the first of which is the educational requirement, which requires candidates to have a bachelor's degree or higher from an accredited U.S. college or university. As a first step to the present CFP certification criteria, students must master a list of nearly 1,000 topics on integrated financial planning. The topics cover major planning areas such as:
- General Principles of Finance and Financial Planning
- Insurance Planning
- Employee Benefits Planning
- Investment and Securities Planning
- State and Federal Income Tax Planning
- Estate Tax, Gift Tax, and Transfer Tax Planning
- Asset Protection Planning
- Retirement Planning
- Estate Planning
To fulfill the education requirement, students are required to complete course training in the above listed topic areas in order to meet the first requirement to sit for the 7 ten hour CFP Board Certification Examinations. A bachelor's degree (or higher), or its equivalent in any discipline, from an accredited college or university is required to attain certification. After passing the examination, the candidate must demonstrate to have exempt and extensive experience in the financial planning field. The CFP Board defines work experience as "the supervision, direct support, teaching or personal delivery of all or part of the personal financial planning process to a client" and such experience must fall within one or more of the following six primary elements of financial planning:
- Establishing and Defining the Client Relationship
- Gathering Client Data and Goals
- Analyzing and Evaluating the Client's Financial Status
- Developing and Presenting Financial Planning Recommendations and Alternatives
- Implementing the Financial Planning Recommendations
- Monitoring the Financial Planning Recommendations
After the student passes the exam and meets one or more of the six primary elements of financial planning, he or she must also have completed the following:
- Three years full-time or equivalent (2,000 hours per year)part-time experience in the financial planning field
- Be approved by the CFP Board during initial certification, which also involves an extensive background check—including an ethics, character and criminal check.
The final components are the ethics and continuing education requirements. Students and certificants are required to adhere to the CFP Board Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility and to the Financial Planning Practice Standards. Registered investment advisors have a fiduciary duty to care for investments. The CFP Board has the right to enforce them through its Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. To maintain certification, license holders are also required to complete thirty (30) hours of continuing education, of which two (2) hours the Board of Standards approved ethical information, on an on-going basis in addition to paying a licensing fee every two years. (Content from Wikipedia.com.)