Broker Check
“What Does It Take to Earn Those Letter Designations?” – CFP®

“What Does It Take to Earn Those Letter Designations?” – CFP®

April 17, 2017

Wow! Those letters after your financial advisor's name look important don't they? Any idea what your advisor went through to obtain them? Well, we can tell you because we've been through it…

Ever see the CFP® marks after someone's name? CFP® stands for Certified Financial Planner™. CFP® are professional certification marks that are granted in the United States by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. This is a voluntary certification; no federal or state law or regulation requires financial planners to hold CFP® certification. It's recognized in the U.S. and a number of other countries for its:

  1. High standard of professional education
  2. Stringent code of conduct and standards of practice
  3. Ethical requirements that govern professional engagements with clients

Currently more than 71,000 individuals have obtained CFP®, certification in the U.S.

What do you have to do to obtain the CFP®?

Education - Complete an advanced college-level course of study addressing the financial planning subject areas that CFP® Board studies have determined as necessary for the competent and professional delivery of financial planning services, and attain a Bachelor's Degree from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university (or its equivalent from a foreign university). CFP Board's financial planning subject areas include insurance planning and risk management, employee benefits planning, investment planning, income tax planning, retirement planning and estate planning.

Examination - Pass the comprehensive CFP® Certification Examination. The exam 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 - Complete at least 3 years of full-time financial planning-related experience (or the equivalent, measured as 2,000 hours per year)

Ethics - Agree to be bound by CFP Board Standards of Professional Conduct, a set of documents outlining the ethical and practice standards for CFP® professionals.

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 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 and
  • Ethics - Renew an agreement to be bound by the Standards of Professional Conduct. The Standards prominently require that CFP® professionals provide financial planning services at a fiduciary standard of care. This means CFP® professionals must provide financial planning services in the best interests of their clients.

CFP Board -