CFP®: CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™
The CFP® certification is a voluntary certification; no federal or state law or regulation requires financial planners to hold a CFP® certification.
To attain the right to use the CFP® designation, an individual must satisfactorily fulfill the following requirements:
- Education – Complete an advanced college‐level course of study addressing the financial planning subject areas that CFP Board’s studies have determined as necessary for the competent and professional delivery of financial planning services, and as of January 2007, attain a Bachelor’s Degree from a regionally accredited United States college or university (or its equivalent from a foreign university). CFP Board’s financial planning subject areas include insurance planning and risk management, employee benefits planning, investment planning, income tax planning, retirement planning, and estate planning;
- Examination – Pass the comprehensive CFP® Certification Examination. The examination includes case studies and Client scenarios designed to test one’s ability to correctly diagnose financial planning issues and apply one’s knowledge of financial planning to real world circumstances; Experience – Complete at least three years of full‐time financial planning‐related experience (or the equivalent, measured as 2,000 hours per year); and
- Ethics – Agree to be bound by CFP Board’s Standards of Professional Conduct, a set of documents outlining the ethical and practice standards for CFP® professionals.
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.
CFA: CHARTERED FINANCIAL ANALYST
To earn the CFA charter, candidates must: 1) pass three sequential, six‐hour examinations; 2) haveat 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 charterholders 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 charterholders—often making the charter a prerequisite for employment.
Additionally, regulatory bodies in over 30 countries and territories 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.