Home — Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

Home — Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

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Certified Financial
Planner Certification

In the finance industry, degrees, licenses, or credentials can open very lucrative avenues. One of the best and most beneficial certifications is the CFP, or Certified Financial Planner certification. All over the country, CFP-qualified advisors are wanted to help with personal finance. The role offers a high income potential and great job satisfaction from helping individuals plan for and achieve their financial goals. It also provides the social cachet and self-worth of belonging to a dynamic, respected position. Financial planners routinely report a significant increase in their annual gross earnings after earning their CFP certification.

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Join ICM

Certified Financial
Planner Certification

In the finance industry, degrees, licenses, or credentials can open very lucrative avenues. One of the best and most beneficial certifications is the CFP, or Certified Financial Planner certification. All over the country, CFP-qualified advisors are wanted to help with personal finance. The role offers a high income potential and great job satisfaction from helping individuals plan for and achieve their financial goals. It also provides the social cachet and self-worth of belonging to a dynamic, respected position. Financial planners routinely report a significant increase in their annual gross earnings after earning their CFP certification.

Younger woman advising an older woman on finances in the garden

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CFP Career Opportunities

On a broad scale, the demand for financial advisors is expected to grow at a steady rate over the next decade. The required number of financial advisors is projected to grow by 15 percent between the years of 2016 and 2026. Financial planning is the career for those who want to help people achieve their financial goals. You don’t necessarily need a credential to begin your career. You can pursue full time or part time studies while you get an entry level position at a firm. You don’t necessarily need to have completed a bachelor’s degree to begin studying for the CFP exam. You do, however, have to complete it within five years of passing the exam, or it will be rescinded. You may even be able to work with a CFP at your job while you are studying.

 

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Join ICM

CFP Career Opportunities

On a broad scale, the demand for financial advisors is expected to grow at a steady rate over the next decade. The required number of financial advisors is projected to grow by 15 percent between the years of 2016 and 2026. Financial planning is the career for those who want to help people achieve their financial goals. You don’t necessarily need a credential to begin your career. You can pursue full time or part time studies while you get an entry level position at a firm. You don’t necessarily need to have completed a bachelor’s degree to begin studying for the CFP exam. You do, however, have to complete it within five years of passing the exam, or it will be rescinded. You may even be able to work with a CFP at your job while you are studying.

 

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Professional man at meeting room desk

 

Studying for the CFP

Once you have decided you’re going to become a certified financial planner, there is a long but well-beaten path to tread. Of all the credentials out there, the CFP is widely regarded as one of the most difficult to acquire and most prestigious. There are four ‘Es’ that every candidate must pass in order to gain their certification. Education, Examination, Experience, and Ethics. The absolute minimum amount of time for a standard route to credential, if you’ve previously been established in the industry, is two years.

 

 

It starts with joining one of the CFP Board-registered programs designed to ground you in all the necessary knowledge. You will also receive training in how to apply that knowledge. In order to prove you have understood the material, you must pass the CFP certification examination. Passing is no easy task. You must first complete coursework in several fields related to personal financial planning. Professional Conduct and Regulation, General Principles of Financial Planning, Education Planning, Risk Management and Insurance Planning, Investment Planning, Tax Planning, Retirement Savings and Income Planning, and Estate Planning. The capstone course is Financial Plan Development. According to the CFP Board itself, completing these coursework requirements can take between 18 and 24 months.

 

Studying for the CFP

Young woman studying at her kitchen table.

Our firm is completely independent, so our loyalty belongs exclusively to our clients, not to a distant parent company. This independence enables us to establish working relationships with a large number of industry-leading financial firms and insurance providers to create customized plans to suit our clients’ specific needs.We are dedicated to providing complete training and support to successful individuals committed to developing a rewarding career in the financial services industry.

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You may then take the CFP exam after completing the coursework requirements. There is a sizable fee to take the exam– $595 at time of writing– and success is not guaranteed. Approximately two-thirds of exam takers pass. The full exam should be scheduled over a seven-hour period. There are typically two three-hour sessions broken up by a 40 minute rest period. The format is a multiple choice exam featuring both individual questions and more involved scenarios. All eight topics will be included in the exam. You are likely to need to cross-reference knowledge from different areas to answer many of the questions. However, the exam does not hinge on factual recall and recognition. It is more focused on an individual’s critical thinking and problem solving abilities.

 

After passing the exam, there is more work to be done. The candidate needs to demonstrate to the CFP Board that they have experience with financial planning. It can be in any of six fields. Establishing and Defining the Client Relationship, Gathering Client Data and Goals, Analyzing and Evaluating the Client’s Financial Status, Developing and Presenting Financial Planning Recommendations and Alternatives, Implementing the Financial Planning Recommendations, and Monitoring the Financial Planning Recommendations. Three years of full-time experience, or two thousand part-time hours must be recorded in the field or fields.

Finally, any candidate that succeeds in completing the coursework, passing the exam, and gaining the necessary experience must undergo an ethics investigation by the CFP Board. An extensive background check is pursued. Candidates who have lost previous financial licenses or credentials for reasons other than voluntarily allowing it to elapse are universally barred. Felons convicted of financial crimes, murder, or rape are also barred, as are felons convicted of other violent crimes within the last five years. Any other felonies, professional license revocations or suspensions are highly likely to result in a negative decision by the CFP board. Certified financial planners are expected to abide by the Board’s credo. Their seven values are integrity, objectivity, competence, fairness, confidentiality, professionalism, and diligence. There are written Rules of Conduct which must be abided by, or the certification could be suspended.

Certified Financial Planner Career Path

So, after years of hard work, study, and scrupulous behavior, you are in possession of a CFP credential. Perhaps you want to continue in your current position. You may be able to transition to taking on more responsibilities within the organization. Possibly you have set your sights on a new company that will welcome you at a higher rate or with more impressive benefits. It could be that you want to move cities to go with your new status. That way you can start building a book of business fresh with your new credential. How to get into one of those new positions? Companies will sometimes post a job on their website. Or they may have their employees put out word to associates and acquaintances. It’s a good idea to join professional organizations and network for this reason. The more people you know, the likelier you are to hear of an opportunity. Importantly, the more people you know, the likelier you are to hear of it first. Things to be sure of before you step into a position include that you’re a personality fit for the company and people you’ll be working for. Finding a company with a robust career path available to you is a great indication that you will be supported. We generally advise against flying solo immediately after gaining your certification. It’s a good idea to build your industry contacts and acquire influence and reputation before going it alone.

 

ICM is a financial services firm that operates up and down the West Coast. For over 30 years, we have provided independent financial advice to individuals, families, and businesses. We are especially interested in working with financial planners who have an entrepreneurial approach. We also want candidates with an interest in management, who want to climb a corporate ladder at something other than the steady plod of seniority. If you want to help people with their financial goals, financial planning at ICM could be your dream job. We’re independent so that we can offer impartial advice on the best products, not the products you’re contractually required to sell. Our business plan is people-centered. You can speak to our Human Resources Department today to begin your journey with ICM. Whether you want to start working towards your CFP, or you’re already certified and looking for a great new position, we have something to offer. Call us on 800-600-2620.