How to Become a CFP® Professional
Financial planning can help you reach your goals in life. It is also a profession that offers rewarding, flexible careers. These careers provide many benefits, including work-life balance, growth potential and the opportunity to make a difference in other people’s lives.
Financial planners who go on to earn professional certifications may enjoy even greater benefits. Becoming a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTMprofessional, for example, shows potential clients and employers that you have met extensive training and experience requirements and are committed to high ethical and professional standards. CFP® professionals consistently say their certification gives them a competitive edge over other advisors, increases their credibility with clients and boosts their income and career satisfaction.
If you decide to become a CFP® professional, you must complete the following four requirements:
• Education: You must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and complete a financial planning program that has been approved by CFP Board. If you have an advanced degree or hold other professional designations, you may be able to skip some of these coursework requirements.
• Exam: Once you’ve completed the education requirement, you are ready to take the CFP® exam. This comprehensive exam tests your ability to apply financial planning knowledge to real-life situations, emphasizing critical thinking and problem-solving skills over factual recall or recognition. It covers the financial planning process, risk management and insurance, and other important topics.
• Experience: You must also complete at least two to three years of financial planning experience to qualify for CFP® certification. This experience may be gained through a professional position or an apprenticeship, and it may be completed either before or after you pass the CFP® exam. You can earn qualifying experience in several ways, from engaging with clients directly to supporting the financial planning process to teaching financial planning-related courses.
• Ethics: All CFP® professionals commit to CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct, meaning they agree to adhere to high ethical and professional standards for the practice of financial planning. Importantly, the Code and Standards include a commitment to CFP Board to act as a fiduciary — that is, to put their clients’ best interests first — when providing financial advice. You will also need to disclose information about your background, as CFP Board will conduct a detailed background check.
Visit CFP.net to learn more about these requirements and how to get started.