Contrary to commonly-held belief, most financial planners are not “certified.” Anyone can call themselves a financial planner, but few successfully earn the rigorous certification requirements of becoming a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®). Advisors who earn this designation represent the industry’s highest level of expertise, integrity, and professionalism.
As conferred by the College of Financial Planning, CFP® Certification Requirements include:
Unlike many financial advisers, CFP® professionals must develop their theoretical and practical knowledge by completing a comprehensive course of study at a college or university offering a financial planning curriculum approved by the CFP Board. Applicants may also show that they have attained certain professional designations or academic degrees that cover the important subjects in CFP Board's financial planning curriculum.
CFP® professionals must pass the comprehensive CFP® Certification Exam, which tests their ability to apply financial planning knowledge to real-life situations. The exam covers the financial planning process, tax planning, employee benefits and retirement planning, estate planning, investment management and insurance. The average pass rate for this difficult exam is only 56%. This comprehensive exam ensures that CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals are highly qualified to develop a plan for your finances.
CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals must have a minimum of three years experience in the financial planning process prior to earning the right to use the CFP® certification marks. This hands-on experience guarantees that CFP® professionals have practical financial planning knowledge, so you can count on them to help you create a realistic financial plan that fits your individual needs.
CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals are held to the highest ethical standards. CFP Board's Code of Ethics outlines CFP® professionals' obligations to uphold principles of integrity, objectivity, competence, fairness, confidentiality, professionalism and diligence. The Rules of Conduct require CFP®professionals to put your interests ahead of their own at all times and to provide their financial planning services as a "fiduciary" — acting in the best interest of their financial planning clients.
CFP Board's enforcement of its Standards of Professional Conduct distinguishes the CFP® certification from the many other designations in the financial services industry. Everyone who seeks CFP® certification is subject to a background check, and those whose past conduct falls short of CFP Board's ethical and practice standards can be barred from becoming certified. After attaining certification, a CFP® professional who violates CFP Board's ethical and practice standards becomes subject to disciplinary action up to the permanent revocation of certification. Through diligent enforcement of its ethical and practice standards, CFP Board provides you with the confidence that your CFP® professional is both competent and ethical.