To be considered qualified to use the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation, an individual must meet certain educational, ethics, and experience requirements. The person must also take an examination and pay an ongoing fee. This professional certification mark is conferred in the U.S. by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.
An individual must meet the CFP Board-specified education requirements prior to applying for the CFP Certification Examination. The person will first need to have a bachelor’s degree or higher in any discipline, granted by an accredited college or university. In addition, relevant subject matter education must be proven or attained. There are three ways of doing this: completing a CFP Board-registered education program, apply for challenge status, and requesting a transcript review.
Over 300 college and university programs adhere to the Board education guidelines. An individual that has a degree such as a Doctor of Business Administration or Ph.D. in business or economics will be determined to have met the requirements. Someone who is a CPA, CFA, ChFC, CLU, or a licensed attorney also fulfills the educational requirements. Other industry credentials and successful completion of upper-level university or college courses may fulfill some or all of the requirements.
Once the education requirements have been met, the individual may apply and, if approved, sit for the CFP Certification Examination. This ten-hour exam costs $595 and is administered three times per year in various locations throughout the U.S. The exam is pass-fail and the individual may retake the exam an unlimited amount of times but is required to pay the exam fee each time.
A minimum of three years of qualifying full-time work experience is also required. Individuals can read more online about what type of work experience qualifies under the CFP Board guidelines. Once this requirement has been met, the individual must pass a background check and the Candidate Fitness Standards provided by the CFP Board. A one-time initial certification application fee of $100 and a biennial certification fee of $360 also apply. When all of these requirements have been successfully fulfilled, the CFP Board will grant the individual authorization to use the CFP, Certified Financial Planner, and CFP marks.