2015 Principal Knowledge Topics

Become a CFP® Professional


2015 Principal Knowledge Topics

The Principal Knowledge Topics serve as the blueprint for the March 2016 and later administrations of the CFP® Certification Examination. Each exam question will be linked to one of the following Principal Knowledge Topics, in the approximate percentages indicated with the general category headings. 

The Principal Knowledge Topics also serve as a curricular framework for CFP Board’s education requirement and the subject topics CFP Board accepts for continuing education credit, effective January 2016.
Download the 2015 Principal Knowledge Topics (PDF)
8 Principal Knowledge Topic Categories:

A. Professional Conduct and Regulation (7%) 
B. General Principles of Financial Planning (17%)
C. Education Planning (6%)
D. Risk Management and Insurance Planning (12%)
E. Investment Planning (17%)
F. Tax Planning (12%)
G. Retirement Savings and Income Planning (17%)
H. Estate Planning (12%)

A. Professional Conduct and Regulation
A.1.       CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct
A.2.       CFP Board’s Financial Planning Practice Standards
A.3.       CFP Board’s Disciplinary Rules and Procedures
A.4.       Function, purpose, and regulation of financial institutions
A.5.       Financial services regulations and requirements
A.6.       Consumer protection laws
A.7.       Fiduciary

B. General Principles of Financial Planning 
B.8.       Financial planning process 
B.9.       Financial statements 
B.10.     Cash flow management 
B.11.     Financing strategies
B.12.     Economic concepts 
B.13.     Time value of money concepts and calculations 
B.14.     Client and planner attitudes, values, biases and behavioral finance
B.15.     Principles of communication and counseling
B.16.     Debt management

C. Education Planning
C.17.      Education needs analysis
C.18.      Education savings vehicles
C.19.      Financial aid
C.20.      Gift/income tax strategies
C.21.      Education financing

D. Risk Management and Insurance Planning 
D.22.       Principles of risk and insurance 
D.23.       Analysis and evaluation of risk exposures 
D.24.       Health insurance and health care cost management (individual) 
D.25.       Disability income insurance (individual) 
D.26.       Long‐term care insurance (individual) 
D.27.       Annuities 
D.28.       Life insurance (individual) 
D.29.       Business uses of insurance 
D.30.       Insurance needs analysis 
D.31.       Insurance policy and company selection
D.32.       Property and casualty insurance
E. Investment Planning
E.33.       Characteristics, uses and taxation of investment vehicles 
E.34.       Types of investment risk
E.35.       Quantitative investment concepts 
E.36.       Measures of investment returns 
E.37.       Asset allocation and portfolio diversification 
E.38.       Bond and stock valuation concepts 
E.39.       Portfolio development and analysis 
E.40.       Investment strategies 
E.41.       Alternative investments

F. Tax Planning 
F.42.       Fundamental tax law
F.43.       Income tax fundamentals and calculations
F.44.       Characteristics and income taxation of business entities 
F.45.       Income taxation of trusts and estates 
F.46.       Alternative minimum tax (AMT)
F.47.       Tax reduction/management techniques 
F.48.       Tax consequences of property transactions
F.49.       Passive activity and at-risk rules 
F.50.       Tax implications of special circumstances 
F.51.       Charitable/philanthropic contributions and deductions

G. Retirement Savings and Income Planning 
G.52.       Retirement needs analysis 
G.53.       Social Security and Medicare
G.54.       Medicaid
G.55.       Types of retirement plans 
G.56.       Qualified plan rules and options 
G.57.       Other tax-advantaged retirement plans 
G.58.       Regulatory considerations 
G.59.       Key factors affecting plan selection for businesses 
G.60.       Distribution rules and taxation
G.61.       Retirement income and distribution strategies
G.62.       Business succession planning

H. Estate Planning 
H.63.       Characteristics and consequences of property titling 
H.64.       Strategies to transfer property
H.65.       Estate planning documents 
H.66.       Gift and estate tax compliance and tax calculation
H.67.       Sources for estate liquidity 
H.68.       Types, features, and taxation of trusts 
H.69.       Marital deduction 
H.70.       Intra-family and other business transfer techniques 
H.71.       Postmortem estate planning techniques 
H.72.       Estate planning for non-traditional relationships 

Contextual Variables

In addition to the Principal Knowledge Topics and the Financial Planning Job Task Domains, other important variables are to be considered when dealing with specific financial planning situations. These are referred to as “Contextual Variables” and are used as part of content development for the CFP® Certification Examination or other case-based scenarios.

More specifically, financial planning situations require the application of financial planning knowledge for different types of clients. Important client details to consider as part of financial planning situations are:

  • Family Status (traditional family, single parent, same-sex couples, blended families, widowhood)
  • Net Worth (ultra-high net worth, high net worth, mass affluent, emerging affluent, mass market)
  • Income Level (high, medium, low)
  • Life or Professional Stage ( student, starting a career, career transition, pre-retirement)
  • Other Circumstances (health issues, divorce, change of employment status, aging parents, special needs children)

2015 Job Task Analysis

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