What Does it Mean to be a CFP®?
Written by Julie Betchwars, CFP®
Kelly mentioned that we recently celebrated Merissa completing her initial steps to become a Certified Financial Planner™, a CFP®. It isn’t an easy undertaking, but in our minds a very important one. The CFP® certification is recognized as the highest standard in personal financial planning. Anyone can call themselves a “financial planner”. Only those who have fulfilled the certification and renewal requirements of the CFP Board can use the CFP® certification trademarks which represent a high level of competency, ethics and professionalism.
Completing The Four E’s
A candidate for certification must complete the “Four E’s” of Education, Examination, Experience and Ethics. The Education component means the candidate must complete a comprehensive course of study at a college or university offering a financial planning curriculum approved by the CFP Board and they must attain a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree. The next step for the candidate is to pass the comprehensive CFP® certification Examination which tests their ability to apply financial planning knowledge to real-life situations. The CFP® professional is also required to complete several years of experience related to delivering financial planning services to clients. Finally, one of the most important requirements of a CFP is that they follow a “Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct”. The Code of Ethics includes seven Principles, Integrity, Objectivity, Competence, Fairness, Confidentiality, Professionalism and Diligence, which serve as guidelines to all CFP’s. The fiduciary duty of a CFP® is “One who acts in utmost good faith, in a manner he or she reasonably believes to be in the best interest of the client.” If we were to break these rules, we are subject to CFP Board sanctions.
Continuing Education for CFPs
Once we have our CFP® certification, the learning doesn’t stop there; we are also required to complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years and two of those hours must be a CFP Board-approved program on the Board’s Standards of Professional Conduct.
Obviously the point of all of these requirements is to make sure we as CFP’s are well-prepared to provide our clients with the most “comprehensive” financial planning advice possible.