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What is a CFP®?

What is a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional? 
Choosing a financial planner may be one of the most important decisions you make for yourself and your loved ones. Financial planners can provide you and your family guidance over your lifetime. A planner can play a central role in helping you meet your life goals and achieve financial well-being. When selecting a financial planner, you need to feel confident that the person you choose to help you plan for your future is competent and ethical. Only those who have fulfilled the certification and renewal requirements of the CFP® board can display the CFP® marks.
In order to be certified by the CFP® board, your financial planner must submit to the rigorous CFP® Certification process that includes education, examination, experience and ethical requirements.

  • Education - CFP® professionals must develop their theoretical and practical financial planning knowledge by completing a comprehensive course of study at a college or university offering a financial planning curriculum approved by the CFP® board. In addition, every two years, they must complete a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education to stay current with developments in the field.
  • Examination - CFP® professionals must pass a comprehensive two-day, 10-hour CFP® Certification Examination that tests their ability to apply financial planning knowledge in an integrated format. The exam covers the financial planning process, tax planning, employee benefits and retirement planning, estate planning, investment management and insurance.
  • Experience - CFP® professionals must have three years minimum experience in the financial planning process prior to earning the right to use the CFP® certification marks. As a result, CFP® professionals possess financial counseling skills in addition to financial planning knowledge.
  • Ethics – As a final step to certification, CFP® professionals agree to abide by a strict code of professional conduct, known as the CFP® Board’s Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility that sets forth their ethical responsibilities to the public, clients and employers. The CFP® Board also performs a background check during the process, and each candidate for CFP® certification must disclose any investigations or legal proceedings related to their professional or business conduct.

To learn more, visit the CFP Board’s Web site at 
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, Certified Financial Planner™ and CFP (with flame design)® in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete initial and ongoing certification requirements.