- Becoming a Certified Financial PlannerTM (CFP®) can boost your personal bottom line.
- There are several requirements and steps you must take to become a CFP.
- The new year is a good time to think about making career enhancements.
If you’re seeking to help grow your business and take another step in your career, this might be the year to go from advisor to Certified Financial PlannerTM (CFP).
It’s a title that can inspire a stronger sense of security in your clients, especially those who know the amount of education and training a CFP goes through — and those who know that CFPs have a fiduciary responsibility to their clients, meaning they are required to act in those clients’ best interest.
To broaden certified planners’ base of knowledge, the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards requires those pursuing the certification to have a college degree, to complete specific financial-planning coursework, and to pass a series of exams in the areas of financial planning, taxes, insurance, estate planning, and retirement. Once you’ve received the designation, you must complete continuing education programs each year to maintain your certification status.
Here are the five steps you need to take to become a CFP:
- Verify you have a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited university or college. This can be a degree in any major, not just business or finance. If you don’t have a degree yet, don’t worry — you can get one while you complete the financial-planning coursework described below, or within five years of passing the CFP exam.
- Complete the financial-planning coursework required by the CFP Board. Classes cover financial planning, insurance planning, investment planning, income tax planning, retirement planning, estate planning, interpersonal communication, professional conduct, and fiduciary responsibility. Board-registered programs can be found at universities nationwide (click here to search for a program near you). The coursework also includes completion of a 45-hour financial-planning capstone course. If you already have a chartered financial analyst (CFA), certified public accountant (CPA), or a higher degree in business, you can bypass the bulk of the CFP coursework, though you still must complete the capstone course.
- Register for and pass the CFP exam, a one-day, six-hour exam separated into two parts, with a mandatory break in between. Consisting of 170 multiple-choice questions, the computer-based test includes such areas as professional conduct and regulations, financial planning principles, education planning, risk management, insurance, investments, tax planning, retirement planning, and estate planning.
- Prove that you have at least three years of full-time professional experience or two years of apprenticeship in financial services.
- Pledge to adhere to the CFP Board’s standards of professional conduct and disclose information about your involvement in areas such as criminal activity, government agency inquiries, bankruptcies, customer complaints, or terminations by employers. The CFP board will conduct a background check after you complete the CFP exam.
Let’s be honest — it’s a lot of work to get your CFP designation. But it’s worth it: Research commissioned by the CFP Board finds CFPs earn 26% more in compensation than other financial professionals; practices with CFP professionals generate 40% more revenue and are generally more productive than other firms; and practices with CFP professionals attract 53% more ultra-high net worth and high-net-worth clients than companies without them.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, Certified Financial PlannerTM, and federally registered CFP (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.
Things to Consider:
- Find the closest board-registered university offering CFP coursework.
- See if your current job title or educational background allows you to skip any steps in the process.
- Sign up for the next CFP exam
Neither Transamerica nor its agents or representatives may provide medical, tax, investment, or legal advice. Anyone to whom this material is promoted, marketed, or recommended should consult with and rely on their own independent tax and legal advisors and financial professional regarding their particular situation and the concepts presented herein.
Transamerica Resources, Inc. is an Aegon company and is affiliated with various companies which include, but are not limited to, insurance companies and broker dealers. Transamerica Resources, Inc. does not offer insurance products or securities. The information provided is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as, medical, insurance, securities, tax, legal, or financial advice or guidance. Please consult your personal independent advisors for answers to your specific questions.