What is a CFP®?

A Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) is the formal recognition of a financial professional specializing in financial planning, retirement planning, estate planning, taxes, and insurance, who have successfully completed the CFP® Board’s exams, fulfills annual continuing education, and arguably most importantly, adheres to the CFP® Board’s professional conduct standards.1

Why does the CFP® Certification Matter?

Unlike most financial professionals, a Certified Financial Planner® is required to put their client’s needs ahead of their own. This is called the fiduciary duty, and this is one of the most important distinctions between a CFP® and other financial professionals. This ensures that the consumer’s needs are prioritized above all else, preventing them from being sold products and services that they don’t need, or are only for the sake of the advisor’s financial interest. If you are working with a financial advisor who is not a CFP®, then you are not protected by fiduciary and may end up paying for services or products that you don’t need.2

What is required to earn a CFP® certification?

Many financial planning “certificates” can be earned online with very little preparation or studying. The CFP® requires a Bachelor’s degree, and coursework covering roughly 100 topics, taking up to 2 years to study, and a 10 hour final exam. Candidates must also have at least 6000 hours of full-time professional financial experience. This makes the CFP® certification the most notable certification a financial advisor can get. In addition to passing the CFP® exam, continuing education credits must be earned each year in order maintain a CFP® status. Additionally, the CFP® Board continues to monitor advisors and can penalize advisors who violate the CFP® code of ethics. 1,2