A CFP® is a type of financial advisor who possesses one of the most rigorous certifications for financial planning knowledge.
Not every investment advisor or financial planner has the same accreditation, and there can be some confusion as to who is “certified” and who is not. It is important to know that only those who have fulfilled the certification and renewal requirements of the CFP® board can use the CFP® certification marks. Both Ray and Renee have earned this title.
Those who have received this designation have chosen to submit to a comprehensive and rigorous certification process, including an adherence to a set of standards known as “the Four E’s,” which include education, examination, experience and ethical requirements. These are important distinctions that help set those carrying the CFP® mark apart from their peers in the financial services industry.
CFP® practitioners are also held to a higher standard and required to participate in an on-going commitment to personal financial education in order to keep their status current.
When selecting a financial planner, you should feel confident that the person you choose to work with is both competent and ethical. The CFP® certification should provide that sense of security by allowing only those who meet the CFP Board’s strict requirements the right to use the designation.
CFP® Certification Requirements: the four E's
Education: The first step to CFP® certification is to acquire the knowledge required to deliver professional, competent and ethical financial planning services to clients. The CFP Board’s coursework component requires the completion of a college-level program of study in personal financial planning, or an accepted equivalent. The successful applicant also must have earned a bachelor’s degree (or higher) from an accredited college or university.
Examination: After successfully meeting the education coursework requirement, applicants will be eligible to register for the CFP® Certification Examination. This exam assesses one’s ability to apply financial planning knowledge, in an integrated format, to financial planning situations. Combined with the education, experience, and ethics requirements, it assures the public that the successful applicant has met a level of competency appropriate for a professional practice.
Experience: Because CFP® certification indicates to the public the ability to provide financial planning without supervision, The CFP Board requires anyone who is awarded the designation to have 6,000 hours of direct experience in the financial planning field (three years), or 4,000 hours of experience though an apprenticeship program.
Ethics: CFP® professionals agree to adhere to the high standards of ethics and practice outlined in the CFP Board’s Standards of Professional Conduct and to acknowledge the CFP Board’s right to enforce them through its Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Authorization to use the CFP® marks will not be approved until the background check and any investigation are concluded successfully.
How does CFP Board's Code of Ethics benefit me?
Through the Code of Ethics, CFP® practitioners agree to act fairly and diligently when providing financial planning advice and services, putting the client’s interests first. The Code of Ethics states that CFP® practitioners are to act with integrity, offering professional services which are objective and based on each client’s needs.
Ongoing Certification Requirements
Once certified, CFP® practitioners are required to maintain technical financial competence and fulfill on-going ethical obligations. Every two years, they must complete a minimum 30 hours of continuing education to stay current with developments in the financial planning profession and to better serve their clients. Two of these hours are spent studying or discussing CFP Board's Code of Ethics or Practice Standards.
CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and are certification marks owned by Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. (CFP Board)