Accelerated Path - A Faster Path to Certification

Become a CFP® Professional

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Accelerated Path: A Faster Path to Certification

You may be closer to CFP® certification than you think. Choosing Accelerated Path (formerly "Challenge Status"1) may allow you to sit for the CFP® exam sooner and expedite your path to CFP® certification, saving you time and money. Based on knowledge you have already obtained through other advanced degrees or certifications such as CPA or CFA, Accelerated Path allows you to bypass most of the coursework requirement for CFP® certification.


Getting Started on Accelerated Path

There are two steps to get you started on the Accelerated Path.

Step 1: Submit Your Credential Documentation 

Step 2: Select a Capstone Course 

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If you have questions, contact us at 1-800-487-1497 or education@cfpboard.org

Accelerated Path Requirements: Acceptable Credentials and the Capstone Course

If you hold one of the CFP Board-approved degrees, licenses, or credentials, then you are eligible to sit for the CFP® examination after you have completed the Capstone Course through a CFP Board Registered Program.


Acceptable Qualifying Documentation

Proof of your qualifying credential and Capstone completion is required in order to sit for the exam under Accelerated Path. Documentation must be sent to education@cfpboard.org no later than the Education Verification deadline for your selected exam.

Approved Degrees and Credentials for Accelerated Path:

  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
    (Inactive license acceptable under specific terms)
  • Charted Financial Analyst (CFA®)
  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
  • Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU)
  • Licensed Attorney
    (Inactive license acceptable under specific terms)
  • Doctor of Business Administration
    (Degree must be from a regionally-accredited U.S. college or university)
  • Ph.D. in business, finance, or economics
    (Degree must be from a regionally-accredited U.S. college or university)
  • CFP certification from the Financial Planning Standards Board Ltd. (FPSB) affiliate located in your territory of residence outside the U.S.
Accelerated Path still requires completion of the Capstone Course*, a standard part of the coursework requirement for CFP® certification. The Capstone is a financial plan development course offered through a CFP Board Registered Program. This 45-contact hour course is designed to enhance the candidate's practical skills in providing financial planning services to clients, and includes a final project of developing and presenting a comprehensive financial plan.

* If you have already satisfied the experience requirement and qualify for Accelerated Path, the Capstone Alternative is an option for you.


Submit Your Credential Documentation


To complete the coursework requirement through Accelerated Path, submit a transcript or grade report demonstrating successful completion of the Capstone, along with proof of your qualifying credential. Documentation must be received by CFP Board no later than the Education Verification Deadline for your selected exam. Required documentation must be sent to education@cfpboard.org.

Acceptable documentation for each qualification type is listed below. (Click item to view related details.)

  • CFA®
    Required:
    • A transcript, score report, or letter of completion from the CFP Board Registered Program where you completed the capstone course. 
    As well as one of the following documents:
    • A copy of the certificate
    • A copy of the congratulatory letter from CFA Institute
    • A copy of a verification letter from CFA Institute or a printout of charter holder directory from CFA Institute’s website, www.CFAinstitute.org
  • CLU and ChFC
    Required:
    • A transcript, score report, or letter of completion from the CFP Board Registered Program where you completed the capstone course. 
    As well as one of the following documents:
    • A copy of the certificate
    • A copy of the congratulatory letter from The American College
    • A transcript
    • A score report (only the last score report is necessary as it lists all previous credits/courses)
    • Sylvan test site score report printouts or a printout from the student access center of The American College’s website www.TheAmericanCollege.edu
  • CPA
    Required:
    • A transcript, score report, or letter of completion from the CFP Board Registered Program where you completed the capstone course. 
    As well as one of the following documents:
    • A copy of your CPA license (must not be expired)
    • A recent printout (not more than 90 days old) from a state board of accountancy website noting your current CPA license status (active) with unexpired expiration date
    • A copy of your inactive CPA license showing unexpired expiration date and a letter of good standing from state board of accountancy noting status (inactive), unexpired expiration date and statement of good standing
    • A recent printout (not more than 90 days old) from a state board of accountancy website noting your current status (inactive) with unexpired expiration date and statement noting status is in good standing (not available from all websites)

    Important Note: CFP Board will NOT accept CPA certificates, AICPA membership cards and expired, exempt or revoked licenses. State board of accountancy websites may be located through the AICPA website at www.aicpa.org/yellow/ypsboa.htm.
  • Licensed Attorney
    Required:
    • A transcript, score report, or letter of completion from the CFP Board Registered Program where you completed the capstone course. 
    As well as one of the following documents:
    • A copy of your license (must not be expired)
    • A recent (not more than 90 days old) letter of verification from appropriate licensing body noting you are admitted to practice
    • A recent printout (not more than 90 days old) from an appropriate licensing body’s website showing active status and unexpired expiration date
    • Or a letter from an appropriate licensing body noting your license is inactive but in good standing
  • Ph.D. in business, finance, economics or business administration (DBA)
    Required:
    • A transcript, score report, or letter of completion from the CFP Board Registered Program where you completed the capstone course. 
    As well as one of the following documents:
    • A copy of transcripts (unofficial or student issued are OK)
    • A letter from registrar’s office noting conferment of degree and major.

    Important Note: CFP Board does NOT accept copies of diplomas unless the major of economics, finance, business or business administration is noted on the diploma.

  • International CFP Certification
    Required:
    • Written documentation verifying that you hold a current CFP certification issued by one of the affiliate organizations of Financial Planning Standards Board, Ltd..
    • A transcript, score report, or letter of completion from the CFP Board Registered Program where you completed the capstone course.
NOTE: If you are fulfilling the coursework requirement under Accelerated Path on the basis of an inactive CPA license or law license, you will need to provide a letter from the applicable licensing board stating that you were in good standing with that authority before you became inactive.

Capstone Course


The coursework requirement for CFP® certification includes completion of a financial plan development course through a CFP Board Registered Program. This 45-contact hour course is designed to enhance candidates’ practical skills in delivering professional financial planning services to clients, and includes a final project of developing and presenting a comprehensive financial plan.

View the Accelerated Path Capstone Course List * 

* If you have already met the experience requirement and qualify for Accelerated Path, the Capstone Alternative is an option for you.

Who Is Required to Take the Capstone Course? 

  • Students of CFP Board Registered Programs whose initial dates of enrollment occur on or after January 1, 2012 are required to take the Capstone course. (Students with initial dates of enrollment before January 1, 2012 who have maintained continuous enrollment in a single program of study at one institution are not required to take the Capstone course.)
  • Students who complete coursework through multiple CFP Board Registered Programs are required to take the Capstone course even if they began their enrollment before January 1, 2012.
  • Candidates who satisfy the coursework requirement through Accelerated Path are required to take the Capstone course, or complete the Capstone Alternative, if their first sitting for the exam is March 2012 or later. 

Capstone Alternative: An Accelerated Approach to Capstone


The Capstone Alternative provides Accelerated Path-eligible candidates who also meet the experience requirement for CFP® certification, the opportunity to satisfy the Capstone requirement by bypassing the required 45 contact hours and moving on to the final project of developing a comprehensive financial plan. In order to enroll in the Capstone Alternative, you will need to first verify your experience with CFP Board by submitting an Eligibility Request Form.

When the final project has been successfully completed, the candidate will have satisfied the coursework requirement. Proof of completion is self-reported by the candidate to education@cfpboard.org.

Requirements for Capstone Alternative 

To complete the Capstone Alternative, candidates must:

  1. Qualify for Accelerated Path.
  2. Meet CFP Board experience requirement. (Instructions: Log in to your CFP Board account, select "Experience" on the certification tracker, and select "Add Experience" to submit your work experience.)
  3. Submit an Eligibility Request Form.
  4. Receive Certificate of Eligibility from CFP Board.
  5. Register for a Capstone Alternative course.
Candidates will be required to demonstrate their knowledge in a variety of topic areas. Those who will be successful in the Capstone Alternative have extensive experience in developing comprehensive financial plans, independent of financial planning software packages, and are familiar with the following:

  • Education Planning
  • Estate Planning
  • Investment Planning
  • Retirement Savings and Income Planning
  • Risk Management and Insurance Planning
  • Tax Planning
Eligibility Request

After meeting the experience requirement, complete the Eligibility Request Form and submit with Accelerated Path documentation as instructed.

CFP Board will respond to complete requests within 7-10 business days by taking one of two actions:

  1. Issue a Certificate of Eligibility. This certificate will allow you to enroll in a Capstone Alternative course offered by one of CFP Board’s Registered Programs.
    • You must register for the course by the expiration date on the certificate.
    • Retake Policy: If you do not successfully complete the Capstone Alternative, the Certificate of Eligibility will not be reissued, and you will be required to enroll in the standard Capstone course through a CFP Board Registered Program.
  2. Denial of Eligibility Request.
    • CFP Board will provide an explanation for denial.
    • Candidate can resubmit the Eligibility Request Form once all deficiencies have been addressed.

Capstone Alternative Providers


The following registered programs offer the Capstone Alternative:

College for Financial Planning
Kaplan University
The American College

Contact education@cfpboard.org with any questions.

1. Note on Challenge Status: Challenge Status was renamed Accelerated Path in July 2019. Requirements for Accelerated Path are the same as Challenge Status, and those already in the process of completing Challenge Status may continue as planned. If you have questions, please contact us at 1-800-487-1497 or education@cfpboard.org 

Exam Dates

Upcoming:

CFP® Certification Examination
November 5-12, 2019

Most Recent Exam:

CFP® Certification Examination
July 9-16, 2019

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Employment for personal financial advisors is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through 2024. Bureau of Labor Statistics

In a March 2012 survey of American consumers, 60% indicated they would benefit from the counsel of a financial planner or advisor.

If you hold one of several degrees, licenses or credentials, you can take the CFP® Exam after completing a single capstone course.

Classroom or online learning? Full-time or part-time studies? There are CFP Board-Registered Programs designed to meet your needs. 

Achieve the certification that is rapidly becoming the industry standard: CFP® certification.

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