The financial industry is very confusing and often people do not know who to turn to for help with their personal finances. Anyone can call themselves a financial advisor or financial planner and there is no regulation over who can use the term. It is becoming more common for the life insurance salesman down the street or broker who sells investment products to market themselves as a financial advisor. Luckily, the CFP® certification is recognized as the highest standard in personal financial planning. It demonstrates a deep knowledge and commitment to financial planning. Below are the main reasons to only work with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ when looking for help with your personal financial planning.
- Ethics - Every CFP® professional is held to a fiduciary standard, meaning they must act in their clients’ best interests. Most people think that every financial advisor is required to do this, but unfortunately that is not the case. The CFP® Board also has a rigorous code of ethics and standards of professional conduct that every certificant must adhere to.
- Education - Candidates are required complete six college level courses as well as a capstone course offered by institutions approved by the CFP® Board. The education requirement can take anywhere from 9 months to 2 years to complete.The coursework includes topics like, fundamentals of financial planning and ethical considerations, tax planning, estate planning, risk management/insurance and employee benefits, investments, education planning, and retirement savings and income planning. CFP® professionals are also required to complete 32 hours of continuing education every 2 years.
- Experience - CFP® must have at least 6,000 hours (roughly 3 years) of professional experience related to the financial planning process, or 4,000 hours (roughly 2 years) of apprenticeship activities under the direct supervision of a current CFP® professional and additional requirements.
- Examination - The CFP® Board exam is a demanding six hour exam testing candidates on comprehensive financial planning topics covered in the coursework. A majority of the exam is designed to evaluate the ability for candidates to apply these planning principles to everyday situations.