CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®)
The CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® certification is a voluntary certification; no federal or state law or regulation requires financial planners to hold CFP® certification. It is recognized in the United States and a number of other countries for its (1) high standard of professional education; (2) stringent code of conduct and standards of practice; and (3) ethical requirements that govern professional engagements with clients. Currently, more than 86,000 individuals have obtained CFP® certification in the United States.
To attain the right to use the CFP® marks, an individual must satisfactorily fulfill the following requirements:
Education – Complete a college-level course of study addressing the financial planning subject areas that CFP Board’s studies have determined as necessary for the competent and professional delivery of financial planning services or an accepted equivalent, including completion of a financial plan development capstone course, and attain a Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited college or university. CFP Board’s financial planning subject areas include professional conduct and regulation, general principles of financial planning, education planning, risk management and insurance planning, investment planning, income tax planning, retirement savings and income planning, and estate planning;
Examination – Pass the comprehensive CFP® Certification Examination. The examination, administered in 6 hours, includes case studies and client scenarios designed to test one’s ability to correctly diagnose financial planning issues and apply one’s knowledge of financial planning to real world circumstances;
Experience – CFP Board requires 6,000 hours of experience through the Standard Pathway, or 4,000 hours of experience through the Apprenticeship Pathway that meets additional requirements; and
Ethics – Agree to be bound by CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct, which put clients’ interest first; acknowledge CFP Board’s right to enforce them through its Disciplinary Rules and Procedures; comply with the Financial Planning Practice Standards which determine what clients should reasonably expect from the financial planning engagement and complete a CFP® Certification Application which requires disclosure of an individual’s background, including involvement in any criminal, civil, governmental, or self-regulatory agency proceeding or inquiry, bankruptcy, customer complaint, filing, termination/internal reviews conducted by the individual’s employer or firm.
Individuals who become certified must complete the following ongoing education and ethics requirements in order to maintain the right to continue to use the CFP® marks:
Continuing Education – Complete 30 hours of continuing education hours accepted by the CFP Board every two years, including two hours on the Code of Ethics and other parts of the Standards of Professional Conduct, to maintain competence and keep up with developments in the financial planning field;
Ethics – CFP® professionals agree to adhere to the high standards of ethics and practice outlined in CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct and to acknowledge CFP Board’s right to enforce them through its Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. The Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct require that CFP Professionals provide financial planning services in the best interests of their clients; and
Certification Application – Properly complete a Certification Application to (i) acknowledge voluntary adherence to the terms and conditions of certification with CFP Board and (ii) disclose any involvement in criminal and civil proceedings, inquiries or investigations, bankruptcy filings, internal reviews and customer complaints.
CFP® professionals who fail to comply with the above standards and requirements may be subject to CFP Board’s enforcement process, which could result in suspension or permanent revocation of their CFP® certification.