What is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP)?

Are you looking for a qualified financial professional who can work with you to create a robust plan for managing your money and achieving your short- and long-term goals?

A Certified Financial Planner (CFP) has the knowledge, experience and ethics necessary to provide sound financial advice to clients from all walks of life. With the support of a CFP, you can create a financial plan tailored to your individual needs with ongoing supervision designed to help you enjoy life more with less money stress.

Let’s take a closer look at what the CFP designation is, what it takes to earn it, and how you can benefit from working with a CFP.

We will also introduce you to several certified financial planners on Wealthtender who can work with you to develop a personalized plan to achieve your financial goals.

What is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP)?

A Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is a well-qualified financial professional who uses a variety of strategies to help their clients. CFPs often analyze a client’s current situation and prepare a number of financial reports that show essential figures such as net worth. CFPs can also assist with investment planning, insurance planning, estate planning, income tax planning, and retirement planning.

While many other professional designations focus on investment management, the CFP focuses on holistic financial planning. In addition, CFPs stand out because they have to adhere to a strict standard of fiduciary duty, which means putting their clients’ interests ahead of their own. They cannot purchase financial products for customers for the sole purpose of earning high commissions.

To earn a CFP, finance professionals must meet certain education and experience requirements and pass a rigorous exam handed out by the CFP council. The purpose of this exam is to evaluate their ability to apply financial knowledge to all types of situations.

Slideshow: What is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

Should You Hire a Certified Financial Planner?

A CFP can benefit a variety of individuals and families, regardless of their economic status. With the guidance of a GVB you can:

Create a Comprehensive Financial Plan: If you want a detailed plan that can help you achieve your financial goals, a CFP can be an invaluable resource. They can help you budget, save for a home or your kids’ college, and/or navigate an inheritance you never expected to receive. You can also rely on them to make sure you stay focused and achieve your goals. Make the most of a complex financial situation: There are a number of complicated situations that can justify the need for a CFP. For example, if you own a business or own real estate, a GVB can inform you about tax implications and other nuances that you may not be aware of. Navigate through a life event: Several life events can prompt you to work with a CFP and figure out how to deal with the financial changes caused by them. If you’ve had a change in marital status, family size, or employment status, they’re definitely worth considering. Get a fresh look at your finances: Even if you are confident about your finances, a GVB can provide a second opinion or a fresh look. They can point out a mistake or opportunity you never thought of and help you change your financial situation for the better.

What do certified financial planners have to say about hiring a CFP?

Jeremy Keil, CFP

Jeremy Keil, CFP®

Keil Financial Partners

“The CFP® is a designation available only to the top financial advisors who have a proven track record of what they are doing in financial planning.

A CFP® certificate is someone who has passed a rigorous exam in 72 different financial planning topics. It’s usually a good sign that someone is looking at your situation in a more comprehensive way than the average financial advisor.

It’s great to have someone knowledgeable, but even better, as of October 2019, the CFP Board requires all CFP® professionals to act as a fiduciary at all times.”

What does it take to earn and maintain the GVB?

Those hoping to earn a CFP designation must meet certain requirements set by the CFP board. Here’s a quick overview of what it takes to become a CFP.

CFP Education Requirements

The CFP board requires all candidates to complete a course in financial planning or a related field such as insurance planning, risk management, employee benefit planning, or retirement planning.

In addition, they must hold a bachelor’s or graduate degree from an accredited college or university. Those who want to become certified but have not yet graduated from college have up to five years after passing the CFP exam to complete their degree.

CFP experience requirements

To sit for the CFP exam, candidates must have either 6,000 hours of qualifying experience in the financial planning field or 4,000 hours of apprenticeship experience. The aim is to ensure that they have taken their knowledge on board and applied it in everyday situations.

CFP exam

Once they meet their educational requirements, candidates must pass the CFP certification exam. It consists of 170 multiple choice and short scenario questions with long case histories. There are five testing windows per year and the exam is administered via a computer-based test format (CBT) over a period of two days in 10 hours.

CFP Ethics

CFP holders are held to the highest standards set forth by the CFB Council. These standards are based on important principles such as objectivity, competence, honesty, professionalism and confidentiality.

The board of directors rules also require CFP professionals to put the client’s interests ahead of their own and act as fiduciaries rather than focusing solely on committees or their own professional success.

The CFP Board conducts background checks to ensure that each individual investigates or discloses legal process related to their professional or business conduct.

CFP Continuing Education

Once a finance professional becomes a CFP, they must complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years. They must also submit a certification application.

How to find the best certified financial planner for you

With over 80,000 CFPs in the US, you’ll find a wide variety of financial professionals to work with, including financial advisors and financial coaches. In addition to working with clients who live in their communities, many CFPs also work with clients across the country.

You can find a growing number of CFPs on Wealthtender and you can also search the directory of CFPs on the Let’s Make a Plan website, sponsored by the CFP issuing organization.

Recommended Certified Financial Planner Professionals on Wealthtender

Click on a pin in the map view below for a sample of Certified Financial Planner professionals who can work with you to develop a personalized financial plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I have a complaint about the Certified Financial Planner I work with?

Click here to file a complaint on the CFP Board website and for instructions on how to file a complaint by mail if desired.

Where can I learn about other professional names of financial advisors and coaches?

Refer to this list of popular financial certifications prepared by Wealthtender to help you learn more about each designation. You’ll find a brief description of each certification, plus links to in-depth articles if you want to learn more about a particular designation.

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About the author
Brian Thorp, founder and CEO of Wealthtender profile photo

About the author

Brian Thorp

Brian is CEO and founder of Wealthtender. He and his wife live in Texas and enjoy the diversity of Houston and the vibrancy of Austin.

With over 25 years of experience in the financial services industry, Brian applies his experience and passion at Wealthtender to help more people enjoy life with less money stress.

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This post What is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP)?

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