EducationUnlike many financial advisors, 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 CFP Board. Applicants may also satisfy the education requirement by submitting a transcript review or previous financial planning-related course work. Or, they can show that they have attained certain professional designations or academic degrees that cover the important subjects in CFP Board’s financial planning curriculum.
ExaminationCFP® professionals must pass the comprehensive CFP® Certification Exam, which tests their abilities 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. This comprehensive exam ensures that a CFP® professional is highly qualified to develop a plan for your finances.
ExperienceCFP® professionals complete several years of experience related to delivering financial planning services to clients prior to earning the right to use the CFP® certification trademarks. 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.
EthicsWhen it comes to ethics and professional responsibility, CFP® professionals are held to the highest of standards. They are obliged to uphold the principles of integrity, objectivity, competence, fairness, confidentiality, professionalism and diligence as outlined in CFP Board’s Code of Ethics. 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® professionals are subject to CFP Board sanctions if they violate these standards.
EnforcementCFP Board’s rigorous enforcement of its Standards of Professional Conduct—including releasing disciplinary information to the public—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 thepermanent 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.
The AIF® designation is a mark of distinction, which demonstrates a commitment to high standards of fiduciary excellence. AIF® designees have a reputation in the industry for their ability to implement a prudent process into their own investment practices, as well as being able to assist others in implementing proper policies and procedures.
Individuals who hold the CRPC® designation have completed a course of study and passed an examination encompassing the entire retirement planning process, including meeting multiple financial objectives, sources of retirement income, personal savings, employer-sponsored retirement plans, income taxes, retirement cash flow, asset management and estate planning.
Individuals who hold the CRPS® designation have completed a course of study encompassing design, establishment, installation, operation, investment objectives, maintenance, and administration of retirement plans. (Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), SEP, SIMPLE & SARSEP Plans, Defined Contribution Plans, 401(k) Plans, Defined Benefit Plans, 403(b) Plans, 457 Plans).