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Certified Financial Planner, CFP®
The CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® and federally registered CFP (with plaque design) marks (collectively, the “CFP® marks”) are professional certification marks granted in the United States by Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (“CFP Board”).
The CFP® certification is a voluntary certification; no federal or state law or regulation requires financial planners to hold CFP® certification. It is recognized in the United States and a number of other countries for its (1) high standard of professional education; (2) stringent code of conduct and standards of practice; and (3) ethical requirements that govern professional engagements with clients. Currently, more than 84,000 individuals have obtained CFP® certification in the United States.
To attain the right to use the CFP® marks, an individual must satisfactorily fulfill the following requirements:
- Education – The first step to CFP® certification is to acquire the knowledge required to deliver professional, competent and ethical financial planning services to clients, CFP Board’s coursework component requires the completion of a college-level program of study in personal financial planning, or an accepted equivalent (through Accelerated Path or Transcript Review), including completion of a financial plan development (capstone) course registered with CFP Board. Individuals seeking to use the CFP® marks must also have earned a bachelor’s degree (or higher) from an accredited college or university in order to obtain CFP® certification. The bachelor’s degree requirement is a condition of initial certification; however, it is not a requirement to be eligible to take the CFP® Certification Examination and does not need to be met before registering for the examination. CFP Board does not grant equivalencies or exceptions to the bachelor’s degree education requirement. The principal knowledge topics covered during the CFP® coursework includes, professional conduct and regulation, general principles of financial planning, education planning, risk management and insurance, investment planning, tax planning, retirement saving and income planning, and estate planning;
- Examination – Pass the comprehensive CFP® Certification Examination. The CFP® Certification Examination assesses the individual’s ability to apply financial planning knowledge, in an integrated format, to real-world financial planning situations.
- Experience – CFP Board requires CFP® professionals to have 6,000 hours of experience through the Standard Pathway, or 4,000 hours of experience through the Apprenticeship pathway that meets additional requirements. Qualifying experience may be acquired through a variety of activities and professional settings including personal delivery, supervision, direct support, indirect support or teaching.); and
- Ethics – CFP® professionals agree to adhere to the high standards of ethics and practice outlined in CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct and to acknowledge CFP Board’s right to enforce them through its Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. CFP Board conducts a detailed background check for all candidates, including review of any disclosures made on the CFP® Certification Application. Matters that may or will bar you from obtaining certification are investigated in accordance with CFP Board’s Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Authorization to use the CFP® marks will not be approved until the background check and any investigation are concluded successfully.
Individuals who become certified must complete the following ongoing education and ethics requirements in order to maintain the right to continue to use the CFP® marks:
- Continuing Education – Complete 30 hours of continuing education hours every two years, including two hours of CFP Board approved ethics-related continuing education, to maintain competence and keep up with developments in the financial planning field; and
- Ethics – Submit a properly completed certification application every two years, renewing the agreement to be bound by the Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct. The Code and Standards prominently require that CFP® professionals who provide personalized financial advice do so at a fiduciary standard of care. This means CFP® professionals must provide always financial advice in the best interests of their clients, regardless of whether they work for an investment adviser or broker-dealer.
CFP® professionals who fail to comply with the above standards and requirements may be subject to CFP Board’s enforcement process, which could result in suspension or permanent revocation of their CFP® certification.
Chartered Financial Analyst, CFA
“The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charter is a globally respected, graduate-level investment credential established in 1962 and awarded by CFA Institute — the largest global association of investment professionals.
There are currently more than 90,000 CFA charter holders working in 135 countries. To earn the CFA charter, candidates must: 1) pass three sequential, six-hour examinations; 2) have at least four years of qualified professional investment experience; 3) join CFA Institute as members; and 4) commit to abide by, and annually reaffirm, their adherence to the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct.
High Ethical Standards
The CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct, enforced through an active professional conduct program, require CFA charter holders to:
- Place their clients’ interests ahead of their own
- Maintain independence and objectivity
- Act with integrity
- Maintain and improve their professional competence
- Disclose conflicts of interest and legal matters
Passing the three CFA exams is a difficult feat that requires extensive study (successful candidates report spending an average of 300 hours of study per level). Earning the CFA charter demonstrates mastery of many of the advanced skills needed for investment analysis and decision making in today’s quickly evolving global financial industry. As a result, employers and clients are increasingly seeking CFA charter holders—often making the charter a prerequisite for employment.
Additionally, regulatory bodies in 19 countries recognize the CFA charter as a proxy for meeting certain licensing requirements, and more than 125 colleges and universities around the world have incorporated a majority of the CFA Program curriculum into their own finance courses.
Comprehensive and Current Knowledge
The CFA Program curriculum provides a comprehensive framework of knowledge for investment decision making and is firmly grounded in the knowledge and skills used every day in the investment profession. The three levels of the CFA Program test a proficiency with a wide range of fundamental and advanced investment topics, including ethical and professional standards, fixed-income and equity analysis, alternative and derivative investments, economics, financial reporting standards, portfolio management, and wealth planning.
The CFA Program curriculum is updated every year by experts from around the world to ensure that candidates learn the most relevant and practical new tools, ideas, and investment and wealth management skills to reflect the dynamic and complex nature of the profession.
To learn more about the CFA charter, visit www.cfainstitute.org.
Chartered Market Technician, CMT®
Qualification as a Chartered Market Technician (CMT) requires 1) Three years of professional analytical or investment management experience, 2) Member, Market Technicians Association, 3) Successful completion of all three levels of the CMT exam process
Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor (CPFA)
Qualification for the Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor (CPFA) designation requires passing the Certified Plan Fiduciary Examination