Become a CFP® Professional


Principal Topics

The following Principal Topics are based on the results of CFP Board’s 2009 Job Analysis Study. The Principal Topics serve as a curricular framework and also represent subject topics that CFP Board accepts for continuing education credit, effective January 2012.


General Principles of Financial Planning

1. Financial planning process
2. Financial statements
3. Cash flow management
4. Financing strategies
5. Function, purpose, and regulation of financial institutions
6. Education planning
7. Financial planning for special circumstances
8. Economic concepts
9. Time value of money concepts and calculations
10. Financial services regulations and requirements
11. Business law
12. Consumer protection laws

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Insurance Planning

13. Principles of risk and insurance
14. Analysis and evaluation of risk exposures
15. Health insurance and health care cost management (individual)
16. Disability income insurance (individual)
17. Long‐term care insurance (individual)
18. Annuities
19. Life insurance (individual)
20. Income taxation of life insurance
21. Business uses of insurance
22. Insurance needs analysis
23. Insurance policy and company selection

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Investment Planning

24. Characteristics, uses and taxation of investment vehicles
25. Types of investment risk
26. Quantitative investment concepts
27. Measures of investment returns
28. Asset allocation and portfolio diversification
29. Bond and stock valuation concepts
30. Portfolio development and analysis
31. Investment strategies

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Income Tax Planning

32. Income tax law fundamentals
33. Tax compliance
34. Income tax fundamentals and calculations
35. Characteristics and income taxation of business entities
36. Income taxation of trusts and estates
37. Basis
38. Tax consequences of the disposition of property
39. Alternative minimum tax (AMT)
40. Tax reduction/management techniques
41. Passive activity and at-risk rules
42. Tax implications of special circumstances
43. Charitable contributions and deductions

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Retirement Planning

44. Retirement needs analysis
45. Social Security (Old Age, Survivor, and Disability Insurance, OASDI)
46. Types of retirement plans
47. Qualified plan rules and options
48. Other tax-advantaged retirement plans
49. Regulatory considerations
50. Key factors affecting plan selection for businesses
51. Investment considerations for retirement plans
52. Distribution rules, alternatives, and taxation

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Estate Planning

53. Characteristics and consequences of property titling
54. Methods of property transfer at death
55. Estate planning documents
56. Gifting strategies
57. Gift tax compliance and tax calculation
58. Incapacity planning
59. Estate tax compliance and tax calculation
60. Sources for estate liquidity
61. Powers of appointment
62. Types, features, and taxation of trusts
63. Qualified interest trusts
64. Charitable transfers
65. Use of life insurance in estate planning
66. Marital deduction
67. Intra-family and other business transfer techniques
68. Deferral and minimization of estate taxes
69. Generation-skipping transfer tax (GSTT)
70. Fiduciaries
71. Income in respect of a decedent (IRD)
72. Postmortem estate planning techniques
73. Estate planning for non-traditional relationships

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Interpersonal Communication

74. Client and planner attitudes, values, biases and behavioral characteristics and the impact on financial planning
75. Principles of communication and counseling

Professional Conduct and Fiduciary Responsibility

76. CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility and Rules of Conduct
77. CFP Board’s Disciplinary Rules and Procedures
78. CFP Board’s Financial Planning Practice Standards

 Download a copy of the Principal Topics list (PDF, 68KB)


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Exam Dates


CFP® Certification Examination

July 26–30, 2016
(Registration Deadline: July 12)

Most Recent Exam:
CFP® Certification Examination
March 15–19, 2015

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The 2013 Household Financial Planning Survey shows that those with a financial plan feel more confident and report more success managing money, savings & investments than those who have not.

Employment for personal financial advisors is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through 2020. 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.

Professionals who have already earned their CFP® certification have enjoyed an average income increase of 30%.

Demand for personal financial advisors is expected to grow 41% by 2016, according to Money Magazine and

More clients who work with a CFP® professional are satisfied or very satisfied, compared those who work with an advisor without certification.

If you're up for the challenge of helping people achieve their financial goals, financial planning is the career for you.