The Importance of the CFP® Designation

September 27, 2019

Our clients are successful because they’re great at what they do, whether they own a local company, run a family-owned business or lead a large corporation.

For clients who have a demanding work schedule, finding the time to focus on personal finances can be challenging, which is why it’s important to work with an experienced financial planner who can help you achieve your goals. However, not all financial planners are created equal.

The Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) designation sets the highest standard for financial planners in the United States and stands apart from more than 184 financial designations recognized by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Founded in 1985, the CFP Board was formed to create high competency, ethical and professional standards for financial services professionals. Only financial planners who meet the rigorous requirements of the CFP® program will attain the prestigious CFP® designation.

To achieve maximum peace of mind when it comes to investing your money and successful financial planning, it’s smart to work with a CFP® professional who has completed specialized training designed to help clients develop a comprehensive, holistic strategy to achieve short-term and long-term financial goals.

What’s the benefit for clients? Financial planners who have earned the CFP® designation have the academic background and expertise to evaluate all areas of a client’s global financial picture, from planning for retirement to saving for college.

They can make sure clients are taking advantage of any tax benefits, optimize their portfolio and assess risk strategically. At the same time, the CFP® designation offers assurance that the financial planner will adhere to the highest ethical standards, always putting the interests of the client first.

Education
All CFP® professionals must have (or obtain within five years of initial exam passage) a four-year undergraduate degree from an accredited educational institution. In addition, they must complete seven college-level courses approved by the CFP Board in topics such as financial planning, tax planning, estate planning, risk management and financial plan development.

In addition, CFP® professionals are required to complete 30 credit hours of Board-approved continuing education every two years. In the end, these uncompromising academic requirements allow a financial planner to act as a CFO for a given family or individual.

Examination
All certified CFP® professionals must take and pass a rigorous exam testing students on their knowledge of dozens of financial planning topics as well as their ability to apply abstract principles to real-world situations. The CFP Board exam’s pass rate usually ranges between 55 and 60 percent, an indication of the certification’s high standards.

Experience
In addition to education and the CFP Board exam, prospective professionals must acquire at least 4,000 hours of relevant financial planning experience. They can do this in a professional setting or as an apprentice, under the direct, documented supervision of a CFP® professional.

Having this depth of financial planning experience gives clients a global financial picture that integrates retirement planning and investments in one holistic view, rather than taking a more limited, siloed approach.

Ethics
In addition to being expected to adhere to the standards of professional conduct outlined in the CFP Board’s “Standards of Professional Conduct” handbook, CFP® practitioners are required to put clients’ interests above their own.

At The Fiduciary Group, we act as fiduciaries on behalf of our clients, which means we do not sell other products or profit from advising our clients to choose one investment option over another. In this way, clients can feel confident that our interests align with theirs. Since 1970, our firm has been offering customized advice, plans and services to help clients achieve their goals and to make sure they are taking advantage of all opportunities.

As someone who earned the CFP® designation in 2009, I know first-hand the benefits of having an academic base of knowledge paired with real-world experience. It’s the best of both worlds, and it makes me a better financial planner who can help The Fiduciary Group’s clients achieve their goals.

Want to work with a CFP® professional? Please reach out to us to get started.

AUTHOR:

MICHAEL McLEOD, CFP®