Why Use a Certified Financial Planner™

When someone mentions the term "Financial Planning", what is the first thing you think of? Investments? Insurance? Taxes? Retirement Planning? The truth is, all of those topics are simply subsets of Financial Planning, since Financial Planning really includes many financial topics.

In recent years, many practitioners have begun to specialize in just one area of financial issues such as insurance, investments, taxes, etc., yet continue to call themselves Financial Planners. This may make it difficult or confusing, for example, for anyone who is beginning to search for their first financial consultant and is hoping to find someone with broad skill sets.

To remedy this, the CFP Board of Standards created the Certified Financial Planner™ designation to aid consumers in evaluating any financial advisor they may be considering. Among the rigid qualifications a financial planner must meet in order to utilize the CFP mark of distinction are listed below.

Tested For Competency:

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. To earn the right to use the CFP marks, individuals must complete the following competency requirements.


Develop theoretical and practical financial planning knowledge by completing a comprehensive course of study at a college or university offering a financial planning curriculum, including over 110 educational institutions registered with CFP Board.


Pass a comprehensive two-day, 10-hour CFP® Certification Examination that tests their ability to apply financial planning knowledge in an integrated format. Based on regularly updated research of what planners do, CFP Board's exam covers the financial planning process, tax planning, employee benefits and retirement planning, estate planning, investment management and insurance.


Have a minimum of three years' experience in the financial planning process prior to earning the right to use the CFP marks. As a result, CFP practitioners possess financial counseling skills in addition to financial planning knowledge.

Committed to Ethical Conduct


As a final step to certification, CFP practitioners agree to abide by a strict code of professional conduct, known as CFP Board's Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, which sets forth their ethical responsibilities to the public, to clients and to employers.

Through the Code of Ethics, CFP practitioners agree to act fairly and diligently when providing you with financial planning advice and services, always putting your interests first. The Code of Ethics states that CFP practitioners are to act with integrity, offering you professional services that are objective and based on your needs. They are required to provide you with information about their sources of compensation and conflicts of interest in writing, and must keep personal details obtained while working with you confidential.

Re-Certified Every Two Years

Once certified, CFP practitioners are required to maintain technical competence and fulfill ethical obligations. Every two years, they must complete a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education, staying current with developments in the financial planning profession to better serve their clients. Two of these hours are spent studying or discussing CFP Board's Code of Ethics or Practice Standards.

In addition to the biennial continuing education requirement, all CFP practitioners voluntarily disclose any public, civil, criminal or disciplinary actions that may have been taken against them during the past two years as part of the re-certification process.

Mark of Quality

CFP® and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ are marks owned by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board) which help you identify financial planners who are committed to competent and ethical behavior when providing financial planning services. CFP practitioners have taken the extra step to demonstrate their professionalism by voluntarily submitting to the rigorous CFP® certification process. In addition to significant education and experience requirements, they must pass a comprehensive exam that tests their personal financial planning knowledge and skills, continually update their abilities and abide by CFP Board's Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility (Code of Ethics) and Financial Planning Practice Standards (Practice Standards).

About CFP Board

CFP Board is a nonprofit professional regulatory organization founded in 1985 to benefit the public by fostering professional standards in personal financial planning. An independent certifying organization, CFP Board owns the marks CFP® and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™.