Why choose a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®)

Most people think all financial planners are “certified”, but this isn’t true. Anyone can use the title “financial planner”. Only those who have fulfilled the certification and renewal requirements of CFP Board can display the CFP® certification trademarks which represent a high level of competency, ethics and professionalism. And because they are held to a fiduciary standard of care when providing financial planning services, a CFP® professional is required to act in your best interest.

That difference is a CFP® professional—backed by rigorous training—acting as a coach and counselor who can help incorporate all aspects of one’s finances into a personalized roadmap that inspires trust and confidence, today and tomorrow.

The Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct reflects the commitment that all CFP® professionals make to high standards of competency and ethics. The cornerstone of the Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct is a CFP® professional’s obligation to act as a fiduciary, and therefore, act in the best interests of the client at all times when providing financial advice.

CFP Disclaimer

The CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® and federally registered CFP (with flame 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:


Complete an advanced college-level course of study mastering the 72 Principal Knowledge Topics under the categories below, as well as a comprehensive financial planning capstone course.

Principal Knowledge Topics | Investment planning | Tax planning | Retirement planning | Estate planning | Insurance Planning and Risk Management | Financial Management | Education Planning | Employee Benefits Planning

In addition to completing a comprehensive financial planning curriculum approved by CFP Board, candidates for CFP® certification must have a bachelor’s degree (or higher) in any discipline to become certified. Once certified, CFP® professionals are required to complete continuing education coursework, including a CFP Board approved ethics course, to ensure their competence in financial planning.


Candidates for CFP® certification must pass a comprehensive 6-hour CFP® Certification Examination that tests their ability to apply financial planning knowledge in an integrated format. The CFP® exam measures the candidate’s critical thinking and problem-solving ability, with less emphasis on factual recall or recognition. The exam does not test textbook theories; rather, it assesses the candidate’s ability to apply financial planning knowledge in an integrated approach to real-life financial planning situations. To develop exams that reflect the current practice of financial planning, CFP Board conducts regular Job Task Analysis studies to identify the important tasks performed by planners and assess the knowledge and skills needed to perform these tasks.


CFP® professionals must complete thousands of hours of professional experience related to the financial planning process prior to earning the right to use the CFP® certification marks. As a result, CFP® practitioners possess practical experience, in addition to financial planning knowledge.


As a final step to certification, candidates must satisfy CFP Board’s Fitness Standards and agree to abide by a strict code of professional conduct, known as CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct, that sets forth their ethical responsibilities to the public, clients, and employers. CFP Board routinely performs background checks of candidates for CFP® certification and CFP® professionals, and requires candidates and professionals to disclose various matters, including, among other things, criminal history, bankruptcies and liens, and regulatory or civil proceedings.

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 on the Code of Ethics and other parts of the Standards of Professional Conduct, to maintain competence and keep up with developments in the financial planning field; and
Ethics – Renew an agreement to be bound by the Standards of Professional Conduct. The Standards prominently require that CFP® professionals provide financial planning services at a fiduciary standard of care. This means CFP® professionals must provide financial planning services in the best interests of their clients.

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.