What is a CFP (certified financial planner)? A CFP refers to the certification given by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. It is given to those who successfully meet the initial as well as ongoing certification requirements of the CFP Board. If you want to become a certified financial planner, you have to take examinations in the fields of financial planning, retirement, insurance, taxes and estate planning. You also need to take continuing education programs every year to keep your certification status.

How to Become a CFP?

You have to meet requirements in four categories, including:

  • Ethics
  • Work experience
  • Education
  • CFP exam

Education Requirements

First, you must have a bachelor’s degree or higher from a college or university approved by the U.S. Department of Education. You also need to complete a list of financial planning coursework. This second requirement, except the capstone course, may be avoided if you have one of the recognized financial designations like CPA, CFA, or a higher business degree.

CFP exam

You need to pass the CFP examination. It’s a computer-based examination that lasts for three days. It contains 170 multiple choice queries that include item-set-style and stand-alone questions. The exam topics change frequently, but include areas like financial planning principles, insurance, risk management, professional regulations and conduct, investments, education planning, estate planning, tax planning, and retirement planning. You’ll be tested in these areas and your ability to build client-planner relationships, analyze, gather information as well as develop, communicate, implement, and monitor recommendations.

Work experience

You must have at least three years of full-time experience or two years of apprenticeship in the field of financial planning.


You have to abide by the professional conduct standards of the CFP Board and reveal information about your involvement in various areas like customer complaints, terminations by employer, government agency inquiries, criminal activity, or bankruptcies on a regular basis.

The CFP Board performs comprehensive background checks on candidates. They also have the final say on whether to give designation to a candidate or not.

How to Find a Good Certified Financial Planner

Your friends and relatives can give you recommendations, but it is still your choice. Conducting a background check on the CFP you are interested in can help. Check their work experience and academic qualifications. Contact the CFP and ask them about their accomplishments and the number of years they have been in business.

The certified financial planner should be able to give you advice on whether you should use index mutual funds or not. Using index mutual funds and Exchange Traded Funds is highly preferable, so make sure that your CFP includes indexing in their services.

You want a certified financial planner who will help you rid your debts and improve your financial state. Do not be afraid to ask questions and if you are not satisfied with this answer, you can move on and look for another one. After all, you will pay for their service and you want to get the best value for your money.