When selecting a financial advisor to help you plan for your future, you need to feel confident that the person you choose is competent and ethical. You might assume that all financial planners are certified, but this isn’t true. Only those who have fulfilled the certification and renewal requirements of the CFP Board can use the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER certification. Here’s an overview of the CFP® program, as well as several other designations financial advisors may hold.

CFP® Certification Requirements:

  • Education: CFP® professionals develop theoretical and practical financial planning knowledge by completing a comprehensive course of study at a college or university offering a financial planning curriculum approved by the CFP Board.

  • Examination: CFP® practitioners must pass a comprehensive, six-hour CFP® Certification Examination that tests their ability to apply financial planning knowledge in an integrated format. The exam covers the financial planning process, tax planning, employee benefits and retirement planning, estate planning, investment management, and insurance.

  • Experience: Because CFP® professionals must have at least three years of hands-on experience in the financial planning process, they possess financial counseling skills in addition to technical knowledge.

  • Ethics: CFP® practitioners agree to abide by a strict code of professional conduct, known as the CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, which sets forth their ethical responsibilities to the public, clients, and employers. The CFP Board also performs a background check on candidates for CFP® certification, who must disclose any investigations or legal proceedings related to their professional or business conduct.