WIN Mentoring FAQ | CFP Board Women's Initiative (WIN)

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WIN Mentoring FAQ

Thank you so much for volunteering to be a WIN Mentor. We know that your time and information is valuable, and we very much appreciate you being a part of our initiative to help inspire women through the CFP® certification process.

We’ve put together for you this fact sheet on the CFP® certification process. We hope this helps as a reference to answer any questions you may get about the CFP® certification requirements, and provides you more information about what people can expect going through the process today. You may also download the WIN Mentoring FAQ [PDF, 210KB] to use as a reference.


What are the steps of the CFP® certification process?

Individuals start the CFP® certification process by creating a CFP Board account at www.CFP.net/account, then taking steps to complete the CFP® certification requirements, which are centered around the four E’s: Education, Examination, Experience and Ethics.

What is the Education requirement?

Candidates must complete the Education requirement to register for the CFP® exam. The content of the Education requirement is centered on CFP Board’s list of Principal Topics, and the requirement can be satisfied in three ways:

  1. Registered Program: More than 350 programs at colleges and universities around the country offer a curriculum registered with CFP Board that satisfies the Education requirement. Find Registered Program information at www.CFP.net/programs
  2. Transcript Review: Candidates can submit a transcript demonstrating previous college-level educational coursework, covering components of CFP Board’s required content areas. CFP Board reviews the coursework, and if a determination is made that any topics are not adequately covered, then the candidate can complete any outstanding coursework through a Registered Program, including a Capstone Course.
  3. Challenge Status: Candidates who hold one of the following approved degrees and credentials can satisfy the Education requirement by completing a Capstone Course:
    • Ph.D. in business or economics
    • Doctor of Business Administration
    • Licensed attorney - inactive license acceptable
    • Licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) - inactive license acceptable
    • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
    • Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU)
    • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®)
    • CFP certification from the Financial Planning Standards Board Ltd. (FPSB) Affiliate located in your territory of residence outside the U.S.

What is the Exam requirement?

The CFP® exam assesses a candidate’s ability to integrate and apply financial planning knowledge to real life situations, with content centered on CFP Board’s list of Principal Topics and Job Task Domains. The exam is held during three 5-day testing windows each year, with one testing window each March, July and November. The exam is administered in a computer-based testing format at Prometric testing sites and consists of 170 multiple choice questions. Testing appointments consist of two 3-hour sessions separated by a scheduled 40-minute break. CFP Board provides practice exams, sample exam questions, a CFP® Exam Candidate Handbook, and helpful tips in preparation for the exam, as well as other resources.

What are the Experience and degree requirements?

The Experience requirement is completed through one of two pathways:

  1. Standard 3-Year Pathway (6000 hours): Acceptable experience involves a wide range of activities and responsibilities reflecting financial planning knowledge and competencies that support the financial planner and/or the financial planning process directly or indirectly, and may include experience gained through supervision, teaching, internships or Residency Programs.
  2. Apprenticeship 2-Year Pathway (2000 hours): This alternative pathway is limited to experience gained through personal delivery of all six steps of the financial planning process to clients, under the direct supervision of a CFP® professional.

The degree requirement is satisfied by submitting an official transcript confirming receipt of a regionally accredited college or university bachelor’s degree or higher. The official transcript must be a paper transcript, received in the originally-sealed envelope from the school.

Experience and degree information may be submitted to CFP Board at any time after a candidate registers for the CFP® exam. Candidates have five years after passing the exam to complete both the experience and degree requirements (credit is granted only for experience completed within 10 years before and five years after completion of the CFP® exam). Candidates who need more time to complete the experience and/or degree requirements may request a one-time, three year extension by emailing CFP Board at experience@cfpboard.org.

What is the Ethics requirement?

Candidates must satisfy CFP Board’s Fitness Standards and agree to adhere to CFP Board’s Standards of Professional Conduct, acknowledging CFP Board’s right to enforce them through its Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Candidates must complete a CFP® Certification Application, which includes an ethics declaration, to initiate a background check.

What are the final steps to certification?

The final steps to certification include completing the CFP® Certification Application, which initiates the background check, and paying non-refundable certification fees. The fees include a $125 application fee, and a prorated certification fee based on the annual $325 renewal fee.

Once the background check is completed and certification fees are paid, candidates will receive an email notifying them they have achieved CFP® certification.

Is any Continuing Education required to become certified?

Candidates who do not complete the experience and degree requirements within 12 months of passing the CFP® exam start to accrue a Continuing Education requirement at a rate of 1.25 hours per month until the experience and degree requirements are completed. Any CE requirement that does accrue must be completed within six months of fulfilling the experience and degree requirements, prior to accessing the final steps to certification.

What other help does CFP Board offer?

Candidates with questions about the CFP® certification process may reach out to our Stakeholder Services team at 800-487-1497 or initialcert@cfpboard.org.

CFP Board’s Career Center provides job listings and resources that can help candidates gain financial planning experience. Candidates seeking career guidance can make appointments to speak with CFP Board’s Career Center Manager, Dr. Lisa Andrews, at 202-379-2213 or landrews@cfpboard.org.

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