Study: CFP® Certification Stands Out in “Alphabet Soup” of Financial Services Designations

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Study: CFP® Certification Stands Out in “Alphabet Soup” of Financial Services Designations

Jul 18, 2014

Nation’s leading financial planning certification sees jump in awareness, favorability

American consumers are more aware than ever before of the Certified Financial Planner™ certification, especially among other financial services designations and certifications, according to a study commissioned on behalf of Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. as part of its Public Awareness Campaign.

“We are very pleased to see that the Public Awareness Campaign is moving the needle, helping consumers become more aware of the CFP® certification and the need to look for a financial professional who has the training, competency and ethics that form the highest standard in financial advice,” said Kevin R. Keller, CAE, CFP Board’s Chief Executive Officer.

The 2014 IPSOS brand tracking study, which tracks the results of CFP Board’s Public Awareness Campaign, found that that unaided awareness of CFP® certification amongst the campaign’s target audience – known as “mass affluent initiators” – rose by six percentage points, from 24 percent in 2013 to 30 percent in 2014. The “mass affluent initiator” is defined as a subset of the mass affluent (those with investible assets of $100,000 to $1 million) who are willing to seek the help of a professional. Total awareness among this target audience is 79 percent – up four percentage points. Unaided awareness measures a person’s knowledge about designations without prompting, while total awareness reflects someone’s knowledge after also seeing or hearing something that prompted a response.

The research also showed the CFP® certification is one of the best known designations among the nearly 200 financial, banking and insurance designations and certifications in the marketplace. CFP® certification is more than three times as well-known (based on total awareness among the mass affluent) as the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designations (25 percent), more than four times as well-known as the Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) designation (19 percent), and five times as well-known as the Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) designation (14 percent).

Further, the IPSOS study showed that the CFP® certification brand is viewed positively. More than 73 percent of consumers who had seen the campaign’s advertising said that the CFP® certification brand demonstrates competence and another 65 percent said the brand represents accountability.

CFP Board began its Public Awareness Campaign in April 2011 with advertisements on television, in print, online and on the radio, and has seen significant increases in awareness ever since.  The campaign, along with a full complement of communications initiatives, also seeks to distinguish the CFP® certification. To do so, CFP Board created and launched new ads earlier this year referencing the fact that anyone can call themselves a financial planner, but only those individuals who meet the rigorous requirements of CFP® certification – the highest standard in financial planning – can call themselves a CFP® professional.

The Public Awareness Campaign encourages consumers to visit to learn more about the benefits of financial planning and how to find a CFP® professional in their area. As part of the campaign, CFP® professionals have access to the advertising and other tools to help market the CFP® certification and extend the reach of the campaign in their own marketing efforts.

More information about the Public Awareness Campaign and research results can be found here


The mission of Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. is to benefit the public by granting the CFP® certification and upholding it as the recognized standard of excellence for competent and ethical personal financial planning. The Board of Directors, in furthering CFP Board's mission, acts on behalf of the public, CFP® professionals and other stakeholders. CFP Board owns the certification marks CFP®, Certified Financial Planner™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.  CFP Board currently authorizes more than 70,000 individuals to use these marks in the U.S.

CONTACT: Dan Drummond, Director of External Communications P: 202-379-2252 M: 202-243-8621 E: Twitter: @cfpboardmedia
Speaker's Bureau
CFP Board’s leadership and representatives are available for interviews and speaking engagements on personal finance, the financial planning profession, CFP Board and the CFP® designation.

Did You Know?

Among clients who work with an advisor, 87% of those working with a CFP® professional are satisfied or very satisfied, compared with 72% of those who work with an advisor without certification.
Anyone can call themselves a “financial planner.” Only professionals who meet CFP Board’s rigorous standards can call themselves CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals.
The 2013 Household Financial Planning Survey shows that those with a financial plan feel more confident and report more success managing money, savings and investments than those without a plan.
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