Experience Requirement

Become a CFP® Professional

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Experience Requirement

CFP® certification indicates to the public your ability to provide financial planning unsupervised, and CFP Board requires you to have 6,000 hours of professional experience related to the financial planning process, or 4,000 hours of Apprenticeship experience that meets additional requirements.

Get Ahead of the Game – Add Experience Anytime

Are you ready to report experience?  A new, improved Experience Profile tool is now available in your CFP Board account, accessible by clicking on the Experience section within the CFP® Certification Tracker.  You will be able to review previously submitted entries, update hours for your current position, and enter new experience. Brief online tutorials are also available to walk you through the new experience reporting process.

If you have already reported experience, open your Experience Profile to review past entries and confirm your remaining hours balance. Please note that once your experience requirement is met, your account will show a “Provisionally Accepted” status. After final CFP® exam results are released verifying you successfully passed the exam, the “Provisionally Accepted” status will change to “Accepted,” and an email notification will be sent with instructions guiding your through the next step of the certification process.

Different Paths to Fulfilling the Experience Requirement


There are many ways to attain the experience required for CFP® certification. Hear some CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals talk about their path to CFP® certification in this new video.


EXPERIENCE REPORTING & VERIFICATION

Updated November 2016

Experience can be reported to CFP Board at any time through the online Experience Reporting Profile available in your CFP Board account by clicking on the Experience section of the CFP® Certification Tracker.


Pathways to Experience

6,000 Hour Standard Pathway

Full-time qualifying activities and responsibilities, or the equivalent 6,000 hours of qualifying experience, must satisfy a two-part requirement.

PART 1: Experience must fall within one or more of the six primary elements of the personal financial planning process:

  1. Establishing and defining the client relationship
  2. Gathering data from the client
  3. Analyzing and evaluating the client's financial status
  4. Developing and presenting the financial planning recommendations
  5. Implementing the financial planning recommendations
  6. Monitoring the financial planning recommendations

PART 2: Experience can be satisfied through one or more of the following five ways:

  1. Personal Delivery to individual client
  2. Supervision of personal delivery to individual client
  3. Support of personal delivery to individual client (direct, indirect)
  4. Teaching
  5. Internships and/or FPA Residency Program 

4,000 Hour Apprenticeship Pathway

Full-time qualifying Apprenticeship activities and responsibilities, or the equivalent 4,000 hours of qualifying experience, must satisfy a three-part requirement.

PART 1: Apprenticeship activities must include experience in all six primary elements of the personal financial planning process:

  1. Establishing and defining the client relationship
  2. Gathering data from the client
  3. Analyzing and evaluating the client's financial status
  4. Developing and presenting the financial planning recommendations
  5. Implementing the financial planning recommendations
  6. Monitoring the financial planning recommendations

PART 2: Apprenticeship Experience can only be satisfied through personal delivery to individual clients.

PART 3: All Apprenticeship Experience must be completed under the direct supervision of a CFP® professional and documented, with verification and attestation from the supervising CFP® professional conducted by CFP Board.

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Experience-Infographic-WEB

EXPERIENCE AT-A-GLANCE

Because CFP® certification indicates to the public your ability to provide financial planning without supervision, CFP Board requires you to have experience in the personal financial planning process. Qualifying experience includes activities involving the delivery of financial planning services to individual clients. Whether you engage with clients directly, supervise or support the financial planning process, teach finance-related courses, or participate in internships or the FPA Residency Program, there are many paths to completing the experience requirement. Report experience activities and responsibilities that reflect your financial planning knowledge and competencies.

For additional details, please contact the Experience Department directly at experience@cfpboard.org.

Download the Infographic

EXPERIENCE DEFINITIONS

Client

Denotes an individual person who engages a practitioner and for whom professional financial services are rendered. Compensated and pro-bono experience is accepted as long as (1) there is a client, and (2) you are acting as a financial planning professional who is qualified to offer objective, integrated and comprehensive financial advice to, or for the benefit of, individuals to help them achieve their financial objectives using the financial planning process. Clients may not be immediate family members, as defined by FINRA Rule 3240.  Immediate family includes parents, grandparents, mother-in-law or father-in-law, husband or wife, brother or sister, brother-in-law or sister-in-law, son-in law or daughter-in-law, children, grandchildren, cousin, aunt or uncle, or niece or nephew, and any other person whom the registered person supports, directly or indirectly, to a material extent.

Supervision

All levels of supervision are acceptable if the chain of supervision eventually leads back to the financial planner/professional.

Support

  • Direct Support: Responsibilities and activities that directly support the activities of one or more financial planners/professionals.

  • Indirect Support: Responsibilities and activities that demonstrate financial planning knowledge and competencies, and indirectly support the financial planning process which will ultimately benefit an individual client.  Since Indirect Support experiences are unique to the candidate, CFP Board will review all Indirect Support entries and make an immediate determination if experience can be approved.  Upon review, the candidate will be notified of the final determination.

Teaching

Full-time responsibilities that include teaching of upper-division, (defined as 300 level courses and above,) financial planning courses at the college or university level and/or teaching in a CFP Board-Registered program.

Internships

Financial planning-related internships are eligible for credit toward the 6,000 Hour Standard Pathway.  Experience is calculated at an hour-to-hour match.

FPA Residency Program

Completion of the Financial Planning Association’s Residency Program is eligible for credit toward the 6,000 Hour Standard Pathway.  Experience is calculated at 500 hours.

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Timeline for Experience

Experience must be completed within 10 years before and five years after successful completion of the CFP® exam. If the start date for an experience entry falls outside of the 10-year or five-year windows, the candidate will need to add additional experience within the appropriate timeline.

Hours Requirement

Professional experience (6,000 hours) in relevant personal financial planning activities, or Apprenticeship experience (4,000 hours) that meets additional requirements, is required to meet the Experience requirement. CFP Board calculates hours based on a 40-hour work week; hours in excess of 40 hours per week are not accepted toward the Experience requirement.

Activities that do not relate to the personal financial planning process for clients (such as time spent in corporate finance, training, practice management, marketing, software development or administrative duties) cannot be included in the reported number of experience hours.

Completing the Experience Requirement

If the Experience requirement is not met within 12 months of successful completion of the CFP® exam, candidates will be required to meet a continuing education (CE) requirement before certification.

If the Experience requirement is not met within five years of successful completion of the CFP® exam, a one-time, three-year extension may be granted on a case-by-case basis. Requests for an extension should be sent to CFP Board by email to experience@cfpboard.org at least 90 days before the five-year deadline.


Completing Your Experience Profile

Experience can be reported to CFP Board at any time through the online Experience Reporting Profile available in your CFP Board account by clicking on the Experience section of the CFP® Certification Tracker.  Select “Add Experience” to enter information about your experience, and the system will ask you a series of simple questions to update your Experience Profile.

Refresh Hours

Current experience (with no end date) recorded in an individual’s Experience Profile can be refreshed at any time.  The Refresh Hours function recalculates hours from the date entered to the current date. 

Experience Entered

Candidates will enter experience or refresh hours for a current position until the required number of hours have been met.  It should be presumed that the entered experience is considered “Provisionally Accepted” unless otherwise noted. Some experience types will be automatically reviewed and/or verification requested.

Experience Submitted

Once the required number of hours have been met, the candidate will have the ability to Submit entered experience.  Once submitted, each experience record entered will have an updated status of Accepted, Pending Verification, Provisionally Accepted and Under Internal Review.  

Experience Statuses

  • Accepted: Once the CFP® exam has been successfully completed and the official exam results have been released, previously submitted experience will automatically change from Provisionally Accepted to Accepted, allowing the candidate to proceed to the next steps in the certification process.

    If the required number of hours have been met and experience is submitted after the official exam results have been released, experience entries will have a status of Accepted, allowing a candidate to proceed to the next steps in the certification process.

  • Pending Verification: Certain experiences, including self-employment, pro-bono and volunteer experience, as well as Apprenticeship experience, automatically require verification before the experience can be Accepted or Provisionally Accepted.  Other experience may be randomly selected for verification before the experience can be Accepted or Provisionally Accepted.  See the Verification of Experience section below for more information.

  • Provisionally Accepted: (Applies only to Experience submitting BEFORE successful completion of the CFP® exam) When the required number of hours have been met, the candidate will Submit entered experience.  Once submitted, experience is in a Provisionally Accepted status until successful completion of the CFP® exam and after official exam results are released. If start dates for reported position fall beyond the 10-year window between the time experience is submitted and the exam is successfully completed, the number of accepted hours will adjust accordingly. If a candidate no longer meets his/her experience pathway requirement because of this drop in eligible hours, a current position can be refreshed or a new position can be added.

  • Under Internal Review: Certain experience entries will trigger an automatic internal review.  These reviews are typically completed within 3-5 business days, and once the review is complete, the candidate will be notified whether the experience has been Provisionally Accepted, if more information is required or if experience has been denied. 

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VERIFICATION OF EXPERIENCE

A status of Pending Verification indicates that CFP Board has sent a verification request to the Supervisor or Qualified Attester identified with that job experience, asking them to complete an attestation.  This attestation includes verification of the position, start date, end date (if applicable), hours worked per week, and selected relevant primary elements if applicable to the job type,

Verification requests are automatically generated under these conditions:   

  • Apprenticeship Pathway: All Apprenticeship hours reported are subject to verification.  After the hours for the Apprenticeship Pathway have been reached and experience has been submitted by the candidate, CFP Board will send a verification request to the CFP® professional identified as the supervisor for the Apprenticeship experience,
  • Self-employment, Pro-bono or Volunteer Experience:  All hours reported under these categories are subject to verification.  Once these types of hours are saved in a candidate’s Experience Profile, CFP Board will send a verification request directly to the Qualified Attester identified for that job experience.
  • Standard Pathway and Teaching: Once the hours for the Standard Pathway have been reached and experience has been submitted, CFP Board may randomly select your Experience profile for verification; if your profile is selected, CFP Board will send a verification request directly to the Supervisor identified for your most recent job experience.

Verifications will be handled in this manner:

  • Verification Approved: Experience Status will automatically change to Provisionally Accepted or Accepted (see definitions below). 
  • Verification Not Received within 5 Business Days: CFP Board will reach out to the Supervisor or Qualified Attester directly with a follow-up request. After 10 business days, if the attestation has still not been received, the candidate will be notified with next steps. Next steps will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
  • Verification Withheld: CFP Board anticipates there will be occasions when the Supervisor or Qualified Attester does not feel comfortable completing the attestation.  An explanation for withholding the attestation is required. CFP Board will first reach out to the Supervisor or Qualified Attester upon receipt of the explanation and then immediately follow up with the candidate to discuss next steps.  Next steps will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Credit will be granted only for experience completed within 10 years before and five years after successful completion of the CFP® exam.


Exam Dates

Upcoming:

CFP® Certification Examination

Mar. 14–17, 2017
(Registration Deadline: Feb. 28, 2017)

Most Recent Exam:
CFP® Certification Examination
Nov. 15–19, 2016

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