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 some professional experience in the personal financial planning process. CFP Board recognizes the variety of situations and circumstances in which people participate in the financial planning process and has developed an experience requirement to recognize the depth and breadth of the profession.

Quick Links: Reporting Experience | Experience Pre-Approval | Experience Standards | Verification of Experience | Pre-Certification Continuing Education | Definitions

Webinar: The Experience Requirement for CFP® Certification

CFP Board held a webinar on Tuesday, October 22, 2013 to review details of the Experience requirement for CFP® certification.  View the recorded webinar


Reporting Experience

Experience is reported to CFP Board following successful completion of the CFP® Certification Examination.  Submit experience for review to CFP Board by completing the applicable Experience Reporting Form available through your online CFP Board account.

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Experience Pre-Approval

Completed professional experience may be submitted to CFP Board for review prior to passing the CFP® exam with a non-refundable review fee. Credit will be granted only for experience completed within 10 years before and five years after successful completion of the CFP® exam.

Request pre-approval for completed professional experience by contacting CFP Board's Experience department directly via email:

experience@cfpboard.org

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Experience Standards

3 Year Option

A total of three years full time qualifying Experience, or the equivalent 6,000 hours, is required to satisfy the 3 year Experience Requirement.

Qualifying experience for CFP® Certification 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 relationship with the client
  2. Gathering client data
  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. Direct Support of personal delivery to individual client
  4. Teaching
          a. Courses at a CFP Board-Registered Program (up to 3 years
              of Experience credit may be earned) 
          b. Finance-related courses at a university, offered for
              college credit (a maximum of two years of
              Experience credit may be earned under this option)
  5. Internships and/or Residency Programs 

The Experience requirement must be fulfilled within five years of passing the CFP® exam. If the requirement is not completed within this time frame, your candidacy for CFP® Certification may be terminated. 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 or by fax to 202-379-2299

2 Year Apprenticeship Option

CFP Board's Experience requirement may be satisfied by completing two years full-time, or the equivalent 4,000 hours, of "Apprenticeship Experience" focused exclusively on personal delivery of all the personal financial planning process to a client, with direct supervision by a CFP® professional, and documented qualifying experience in all six primary elements of the personal financial planning process. Apprenticeship experience cannot be combined with non-Apprenticeship experience hours.

Qualifying experience under the Apprenticeship Experience option for initial CFP® Certification 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 relationship with the client
  2. Gathering client data
  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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Verification of Experience

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

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. If non-qualifying activities are reported to CFP Board, the hours spent on those non-qualifying activities will be deducted from the number of experience hours granted.

Experience information provided to CFP Board is subject to random audit. Erroneous information will be referred to the disciplinary process and could jeopardize your authorization to use the CFP® marks.

Please note that it may take up to 20 business days from the date CFP Board receives the submission for the information to be processed. You will receive an email notification from CFP Board when the submission has been processed and/or if CFP Board has questions related to your form.

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Pre-Certification Continuing Education

If you do not complete the CFP® certification process within 12 months of passing the CFP® Certification Examination, you begin to accrue a continuing education requirement at a rate of 1.25 CE hours per month. This accrual begins 13 months after passing the exam and continues until the Experience and Bachelor's Degree requirements have been fulfilled. If you have begun to accrue a pre-certification CE requirement, you may report CE hours online by logging in to your CFP Board account.

Read Common Questions Regarding the Pre-certification CE Requirement

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Experience Definitions

Client: Denotes an individual person who engages a practitioner and for whom professional services are rendered. 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 capable and 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.

Direct support: Must be directly responsible for information that is provided to the planner/client and have reasonable accountability for the client.

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Internships/Residency Programs: Financial planning-related internships completed at a CFP Board-Registered Program are eligible for credit toward the 3 year Experience requirement at the rate of one month of Experience for each college semester credit. Residency programs completed through the Financial Planning Association (FPA) are eligible for credit toward the Experience requirement at the rate of three months of Experience credit per residency program. Credit will be granted for internships and/or residency programs completed within 10 years before and five years after the successful completion of the CFP® Certification Examination.

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Personal Financial Planning Process: CFP Board accepts experience related to one or more of the six primary elements of the personal financial planning process, described as follows:

Establishing and Defining the Relationship with the Client: This includes explaining the issues and concepts related to the personal financial planning process. You must specify the services you or your firm will provide and clarify the client's and your responsibilities.

Gathering Client Data Including Goals: Data gathering includes interviewing or questioning the client about various aspects of his or her financial resources, obligations and expectations. During this process, you will need to determine your client's goals, needs and priorities; assess your client's values and attitudes; and determine the client's time horizons and risk tolerance. In addition, you will collect applicable client records and documents.

Analyzing and Evaluating the Client's Financial Status: This process involves analyzing and evaluating client data such as current cash flow needs, risk management, investments, taxes, retirement, employee benefits, estate planning and/or special needs.

Developing and Presenting Financial Planning Recommendations and/or Alternatives: Financial planning recommendations should meet the goals and objectives of the client, and reflect his or her values, situation and risk tolerance. This process includes presenting and reviewing the recommendations with the client, working with the client to ensure that the plan meets his or her goals and expectations, and revising the recommendations as necessary.

Implementing the Financial Planning Recommendations: This is the process of helping the client put the financial planning recommendations into action. This could include coordinating with other professionals, such as accountants, attorneys, real estate agents, investment advisers, stockbrokers and insurance agents.

Monitoring the Financial Planning Recommendations: Areas to be monitored or reviewed include the soundness of the recommendations and the client's progress. This process also involves discussing with the client any changes in his or her personal circumstances, evaluating changing tax laws, and making recommendations based on new or changing conditions.

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Supervision: All levels of supervision are acceptable if the chain of supervision eventually leads back to the planner.

Teaching: Credit for teaching is limited to the instruction of financial planning courses in a CFP Board-Registered Program. Teaching finance-related classes (for college credit) full-time at a university that does not have a CFP Board-Registered Program can be used to satisfy up to two years of experience credit, but the third year of experience must be personal financial planning experience or teaching full-time at a CFP Board-Registered Program.

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Exam Dates

Upcoming:

The CFP® exam is transitioning to a computer-based format beginning in November 2014. Learn more.

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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.

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 Payscale.com.

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.

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