When looking for a financial advisor, it’s important to remember that although many terms within this industry sound similar, they’re not all the same and don’t always tell the full story. A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) certification, however, indicates the education and experience that was required to attain and uphold the designation.
What Are the Qualifications of a CFP® Professional?
When you begin looking for a financial professional, you’ll find a plethora of titles, such as financial advisor, financial planner, wealth advisor, and investment manager. But even if you find two financial planners, for example, they may not offer the same services or have the same education and experience.
A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner, however, is different. As the name indicates, a CFP®professional is one who has earned a highly respected certification from the CFP Board. This certification indicates a high level of financial planning capabilities, as becoming a CFP® certificant requires training across 72 areas of finance.
In addition, CFP® professionals must meet requirements across the following areas:
- Education: CFP® professionals must complete coursework from a CFP Board Registered Program, as well as have a bachelor’s degree. Coursework will include financial planning, education planning, risk management and insurance planning, investment planning, tax planning, retirement savings and income planning, and estate planning.
- Exam: In addition to meeting educational requirements, certificants must demonstrate their knowledge by passing the CFP® exam, which consists of two 3-hour sessions over one day.
- Experience: They must have either 6,000 hours of professional experience related to financial experience or 4,000 hours of apprenticeship experience. The latter carries additional requirements, such as being directly supervised by a CFP® professional during the apprenticeship.
- Ethics: To be a CFP® certificant requires adhering to certain ethical standards, such as acting as a fiduciary and avoiding or at least disclosing and managing conflicts of interest.
Why Choose a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional?
There are many experienced and ethical financial professionals; however, you also don’t know the professional’s background simply by looking at the title. Consider how a term like “self-help coach” does not, on its own, indicate whether that professional is qualified to provide you with the services you’re looking for, whereas certain certifications and degrees can provide a more objective view of the coach’s ability to serve your specific needs.
With financial advice, as the CFP® requirements indicate, not only does earning this certification require diligence, but it also indicates a high level of experience and professionalism. In particular, if you’re looking for guidance across many areas of financial planning, a CFP® professional may have the knowledge you’re looking for, compared with a financial professional who primarily acts as solely an investment manager.
How to Find a CFP® Certificant Near You
To find a CFP® professional near you, go to LetsMakeaPlan.org, a CFP Board site where you can search for CFP® practitioners in your area. On the site, simply enter your city or zip code, or search for an advisor by name to confirm their certification.
Once you get to the search results, you can review the individual CFP® professionals in your area to see who might be a good fit for you, considering that different financial advisors may have different focus areas, for example.
For those in Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, or in Silicon Valley, our team of CFP® professionals is ready to help you reach your goals across many different areas of your financial life. Schedule a complimentary meeting to see how we can help you.
This material was prepared by Kaleido Inc. from information derived from sources believed to be accurate. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice.