When selecting a financial planner, you need to feel confident that the person you choose to help you plan for your future is competent and ethical. Many people believe that all financial planners are certified, but this isn't true. Only those who have fulfilled the certification and renewal requirements of the CFP Board can use the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) certification.
CFP® Certification Requirements
- Education. CFP® professionals must develop their theoretical and practical financial planning knowledge by completing a comprehensive course of study at a college or university offering a financial planning curriculum approved by the CFP Board. In addition, continuing education is mandatory. CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioners are required to complete 35 hours of continuing education every two years in order to maintain their designation.
- Examination. CFP® practitioners must pass a comprehensive, two-day, 10-hour CFP Certification Examination that tests their ability to apply financial planning knowledge in an integrated format. Based on regular research of what planners do, the exam covers the financial planning process, tax planning, employee benefits and retirement planning, estate planning, investment management, and insurance.
- Experience. CFP® professionals must have a minimum of three years' experience in the financial planning process prior to earning the right to use the CFP designation. As a result, CFP practitioners possess financial counseling skills in addition to financial planning knowledge.
- Ethics. As a final step to certification, CFP® practitioners agree to abide by a strict code of professional conduct, known as the CFP Board's Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, which sets forth their ethical responsibilities to the public, clients, and employers. The CFP Board also performs a background check during this process, and each candidate for CFP certification must disclose any investigations or legal proceedings related to his or her professional or business conduct.