A CFP® professional is an individual who has a demonstrated level of financial planning technical knowledge, experience in the field and holds to a client-centered code of ethics.
Four E's to Becoming a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™
CFP practitioners develop theoretical and practical financial planning knowledge by completing a comprehensive course of study at a college or university offering a financial planning curriculum registered with the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.
CFP practitioners must pass a comprehensive two-day, 10-hour CFP Certification Examination that tests their ability to apply their financial planning knowledge in an integrated format. Based on regularly updated research of what planners do, the CFP Board's exam covers the general principles of financial planning, insurance planning and risk management, employee benefits planning, investment planning, income tax planning, retirement planning and estate planning.
CFP practitioners must have a minimum of three years' experience working in the financial planning process prior to earning the CFP mark. As a result, CFP practitioners have demonstrated a working knowledge of counseling skills in addition to their financial planning knowledge.
As a final step to certification, CFP practitioners must pass an ethics review and agree to abide by the CFP Board's Financial Planning Practice Standards and a strict code of professional conduct, known as the CFP Board's Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility. The Code of Ethics states that CFP practitioners are to act with integrity, offering professional services that are objective and based on client needs.
It is also necessary for every CFP certificant, once certified, to complete a re-certification every two years. Those seeking to maintain their certification must attain a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education in order to stay current with developments in the financial planning profession and to better serve their clients. Two of these hours must be spent studying the CFP Board's Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility or Financial Planning Practice Standards.