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What Does It Mean to Be a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™? Thumbnail


What does it mean to be a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, and why is it so important? This designation is the top national mark for financial planners, showing the highest level of education and ethical standards in the industry. There are four things a CFP® professional must do before receiving the marks:

Educational Requirement

A CFP® professional must not only hold a bachelor's degree, but also complete a CFP Board-approved coursework program that covers the eight major knowledge topics for financial planning:

  • Professional Conduct and Regulation
  • General Principles of Financial Planning
  • Education Planning
  • Risk Management and Insurance Planning
  • Investment Planning
  • Tax Planning
  • Retirement Savings and Income Planning
  • Estate Planning

The coursework covers a huge array of content, showing the breadth of knowledge a CFP® professional must have to work with clients. Every area of financial planning impacts the other areas, and so it's important for financial planners to be well versed in all subjects to help clients make informed decisions. 

Exam Requirement

This grueling exam has a ~60% pass rate, and covers all of the financial planning knowledge areas, as well as comprehensive case studies that require planners to apply their knowledge to real world situations.  

Experience Requirement

Ultimately, CFP® Professionals must complete 6,000 hours of professional experience related to financial planning, or a more stringent 4,000 hours of apprenticeship experience. A financial planner needs to show this level of experience before receiving the CFP® mark.

Ethics Requirement

Before receiving the CFP® marks, every candidate must commit to acting as a fiduciary - that is, they must act in the best interests of their clients, at all times. The CFP Board conducts a thorough background check on each candidate and they must complete an Ethics Declaration form to disclose any previous unethical conduct. As a final step, they must agree to abide by the highest ethical standard in the industry, the CFP Board's Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct. Below is the CFP Board Code of Ethics:

A CFP® professional must:

  1. Act with honesty, integrity, competence, and diligence.

  2. Act in the client’s best interests.

  3. Exercise due care.

  4. Avoid or disclose and manage conflicts of interest.

  5. Maintain the confidentiality and protect the privacy of client information.

  6. Act in a manner that reflects positively on the financial planning profession and CFP® certification.

Are you looking for a CFP® professional?

We are happy to answer any questions you might have about what we do as financial advisors. If we aren't a good fit for you, we'll refer you to another fiduciary fee-only planner. Because we believe in putting our clients' best interests first, even before they decide to hire us.

Call us at 831-421-0700 or drop us a note here. (Note: Completing this form will send us a secure email. We will never share your information or add you to a mailing list without permission.)