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The Experience Requirement

The Paths to Experience

There are 2 pathways for candidates to fulfill the experience requirement for CFP® certification: the 6,000-Hour Standard Pathway or the 4,000-Hour Apprenticeship Pathway.

WHAT QUALIFIES AS EXPERIENCE?

Because CFP® certification indicates to the public your ability to provide financial planning without supervision, CFP Board requires you to have experience in the personal financial planning process.

Qualifying experience includes activities involving the delivery of financial planning services to individual clients. Whether you engage with clients directly, supervise or support the financial planning process, teach financial planning-related courses or participate in internships or the FPA Residency Program, there are many ways to complete the experience requirement.

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 your reported number of experience hours.

Report experience activities and responsibilities that reflect your financial planning knowledge and competencies in your account today!

Report Your Experience Today

WHAT PATHWAY MAKES SENSE FOR MY EXPERIENCE?

6,000-HOUR STANDARD PATHWAY

On our Standard Pathway, qualifying activities or responsibilities must satisfy a two-part requirement.

Part 1: Your experience must fall within one or more of the 7 primary elements of the personal financial planning process:

  • Understanding the Client’s Personal and Financial Circumstances
  • Identifying and Selecting Goals
  • Analyzing the Client’s Current Course of Action and Potential Alternative Course(s) of Action
  • Developing the Financial Planning Recommendation(s)
  • Presenting the Financial Planning Recommendation(s)
  • Implementing the Financial Planning Recommendation(s)
  • Monitoring Progress and Updating

Part 2: Your experience can be satisfied through one or more of the following 5 ways:

  • Personally engaging with individual clients.
  • Supporting the financial planner and/or financial planning process (directly or indirectly).
  • Supervising financial planners and/or the financial planning process (and may also have direct client interaction.
  • Completing an internship or the Financial Planning Association (FPA) residency program.
  • Teaching college-level courses in financial planning concepts.

4,000-HOUR APPRENTICESHIP PATHWAY

On our Apprenticeship Pathway, qualifying activities and responsibilities must satisfy a 3-part requirement.

Part 1: Your job activities must include experience in all 7 primary elements of the personal financial planning process:

  • Understanding the Client’s Personal and Financial Circumstances
  • Identifying and Selecting Goals
  • Analyzing the Client’s Current Course of Action and Potential Alternative Course(s) of Action
  • Developing the Financial Planning Recommendation(s)
  • Presenting the Financial Planning Recommendation(s)
  • Implementing the Financial Planning Recommendation(s)
  • Monitoring Progress and Updating

Part 2: Your experience must be delivered by personally engaging with individual clients.

Part 3: Your experience must be completed under the direct supervision of a CFP® professional, with verification and attestation from the supervising CFP® professional conducted by CFP Board.

WHAT IS MY TIMELINE TO COMPLETE EXPERIENCE?

Experience must be completed within 10 years before and/or 5 years after successful completion of the CFP® exam. If a start date for an experience entry falls outside of the 10-year lookback window, you will need to add additional experience within the appropriate timeline.

If you have made progress with completing your experience but you need more time past your 5-year deadline, you have the option to submit a Policy Exception Request Form for an extension of up to 3 years. Your Policy Exception must be received at least 60 days in advance of your 5-year deadline, and you must enter all qualifying experience earned to date in your online Experience Profile. You should allow 7-10 business days for a response to your request.

Download the Policy Exception form

WORKING ON EXPERIENCE 1 YEAR AFTER PASSING THE EXAM

If your experience requirement is not completed within 12 months of successful completion of the CFP® exam, you will be required to complete continuing education (CE) before certification.

In these cases, CE will accrue at a rate of 1.25 hours per month until both your experience and degree requirements are completed. Any accrued CE must be completed before becoming certified.

MORE ON CE PRIOR TO COMPLETING CERTIFICATION

Experience Definitions

Direct Support: Responsibilities and activities that directly support the activities of one or more financial planners/professionals.

Indirect Support: Responsibilities and activities that demonstrate financial planning knowledge and competencies, and indirectly support the financial planning process which will ultimately benefit an individual client. Since Indirect Support experiences are unique to the candidate, CFP Board will review all Indirect Support entries and make an immediate determination if experience can be approved. Upon review, the candidate will be notified of the final determination. Approved experience is contingent on Supervisor Verification.

An individual person who engages a practitioner and for whom professional financial services are rendered. Compensated and 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 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. Clients may not be immediate family members, as defined by FINRA Rule 3240. Immediate family includes parents, grandparents, mother-in-law or father-in-law, husband or wife, brother or sister, brother-in-law or sister-in-law, son-in law or daughter-in-law, children, grandchildren, cousin, aunt or uncle, or niece or nephew, and any other person whom the registered person supports, directly or indirectly, to a material extent.

All levels of supervision are acceptable if the chain of supervision eventually leads back to the financial planner/professional.

Completion of the Financial Planning Association’s Residency Program is eligible for credit toward the 6,000 Hour Standard Pathway. Experience is calculated at 500 hours total for completing the program.

Individuals who are self-employed and/or are reporting pro bono or volunteer activity will require the verification of a Qualified Attester in lieu of having a direct supervisor. The Qualified Attester that you list must hold one of the following certifications or licenses:

  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP®)
  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
  • Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU)
  • Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®)
  • Ph.D. in business or economics (from an accredited U.S. college or university)
  • Licensed attorney – (inactive license acceptable)
  • Licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) – (inactive license acceptable)
Standard vs. apprenticeship pathways

Pick the Path That's Right for You

Get a detailed look at each of the pathways to experience. Download our infographic comparing the Standard and Apprenticeship pathways.

Download the Infographic

Are you ready to report your experience?

We encourage you to report your experience and monitor your status. Log in to your CFP Board account and use the experience reporting feature.

Report Your Experience Today

Start your journey to CFP® Certification

  • Track your progress with the CFP® Certification Tracker
  • Post your resume at the Career Center
  • Connect with a mentor who can guide you
  • Register and prepare for the exam
  • Find career and financial support
  • Connect with other candidates at our online forum