Understanding the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification, the steps involved and how long it takes can help new financial advisors and those seeking advancement in their careers begin planning the process. Although it typically takes 18 to 24 months to complete, there are several things that can affect the CFP timeline for you. Here’s what you need to know.
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What is CFP?
The Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification is a professional credential for financial advisors that reflects their expertise in comprehensive financial planning. The average person studies approximately 1,000 hours over a period of 18+ months to prepare for this exam and meet the requirements. This does not include the 6,000+ hours of actual professional experience that you need before taking the exam (or the 4,000 hours of apprenticeship that meets specific requirements).
Administered by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board) in the United States and similar organizations globally, CFP certification demonstrates a financial advisor’s expertise in retirement, estate planning, taxes, investments, insurance, and risk management. This sector-specific knowledge can influence important financial decisions, guiding customers to achieve their financial goals.
How the CFP Certification Process Works
To become a certified financial planner (CFP) in the United States, individuals must typically follow these general steps:
- Education: Earn a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university. The degree can be in any discipline, although some institutions offer specific financial planning programs.
- CFP Board-Registered Program Completion: Complete a CFP board-registered education program. These programs cover a variety of financial planning topics while meeting the educational requirements set by the CFP Board.
- CFP Exam: Pass the CFP Certification Exam. This comprehensive exam assesses your ability to apply financial planning knowledge to real-life situations. This covers areas such as retirement planning, investment management, tax planning, and estate planning, among other topics.
- Work experience: Gain at least 6,000 hours of professional experience related to the financial planning process or 4,000 hours through an apprenticeship program. The purpose of the experience requirement is to ensure that CFP professionals have practical knowledge and expertise in financial planning.
- Ethics Course: Complete a CFP board-registered ethics course. This course focuses on the CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct, which emphasizes professional responsibility and ethical behavior in financial planning.
- CFP Board Fitness Standards: Agree to comply with the fitness standards of the CFP Board, including background checks and declarations regarding criminal history, bankruptcy and other matters that may affect your ability to practice as a CFP professional.
- CFP Certification Application: Submit an application for CFP certification through the CFP Board, which includes verification of education, examination, experience, and ethics requirements.
- continuing education: Once certified, maintain your CFP status by completing ongoing continuing education requirements. This involves completing a certain number of continuing education credits every two years to stay up to date with changes in the industry and maintain competency.
How long does it take to complete the CFP process
While it takes an average of 12 to 18 months to complete CFP certification, it is not a race. The journey toward CFP certification is a worthy investment in gaining knowledge, skills, and professional competence.
A strong foundation in financial planning or a relevant degree can reduce the time spent preparing for the exam. However, newcomers to the field may face a steep learning curve that will require additional hours to understand and master the material.
As mentioned earlier, you’ll need 6,000 hours (or 4,000 hours through an apprenticeship program) of professional experience related to financial planning in addition to taking required courses and taking exams. So the actual time period for you to complete will depend on where you are in your individual career and how quickly you can meet your requirements, which will vary depending on the individual.
Becoming a CFP professional involves a blend of education, practical experience, and high ethical standards that will give you a comprehensive understanding of personal financial planning. This will usually take you at least 18 months to complete, but this will depend on your specific situation.
Tips to Grow Your Consulting Firm
- Once you’ve got your new CFP, you’ll want to show it to as many potential clients as possible. It would be great to find a way to bring in leads and get in touch with as many potential customers as possible. SmartAdvisor can make it easy to find and connect with leads. SmartAdvisor is an online lead-generation tool that takes the guesswork out of finding the right clients for your consulting business.
- Another thing to do after receiving your CFP is to list it on your website and deploy some creative social media marketing to make sure as many potential clients as possible learn about your new certification and what it can do for them. Can do.
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