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Today more than ever, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals are an essential resource. From budgeting, to planning for retirement, to saving for education, to managing your taxes and your insurance coverage, “finances” doesn’t mean just one thing for most Americans — and “financial planning” means much more than just investing. Bringing all the pieces of your financial life together is a challenging task.
Although many professionals may call themselves “financial planners,” CFP® professionals have completed extensive training and experience requirements and are held to rigorous ethical standards. They understand the complexities of the changing financial climate and know how to make recommendations in your best interest.
Most people think all financial planners are “certified”, but this isn’t true-nor are all certifications the same. Anyone may call him or herself a “financial planner”, but only those who have fulfilled the certification and renewal requirements of the CFP Board can display the CFP® certification trademarks, which represent a high level of competency, ethics, and professionalism. CFP Board”s of Standards of Professional Conduct require CFP® professionals to look about for your interests above their own when delivering financial planning advice.
Unlike many financial advisors, CFP® professionals must develop their theoretical and practical knowledge by completing a comprehensive course of study at a college or university offering a financial planning curriculum approved by CFP Board. Applicants may also satisfy the education requirement by submitting a transcript review or previous financial planning-related course work. Or, they can show that they have attained certain professional designations or academic degrees that cover the important subjects in CFP Board’s financial planning curriculum.
CFP® professionals must pass the comprehensive CFP® Certification Exam, which tests their abilities to apply financial planning knowledge to real-life situations. The exam covers the financial planning process, tax planning, employee benefits and retirement planning, estate planning, investment management and insurance. This comprehensive exam ensures that a CFP® professional is highly qualified to develop a plan for your finances.
CFP® professionals complete several years of experience related to delivering financial planning services to clients prior to earning the right to use the CFP® certification trademarks. This hands-on experience guarantees that CFP® professionals have practical financial planning knowledge, so you can count on them to help you create a realistic financial plan that fits your individual needs.
When it comes to ethics and professional responsibility, CFP® professionals are held to high standards, as outlined in CFP Board's Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct. They are obliged to uphold the principles of honesty, integrity, competence and diligence as outlined in CFP Board’s Code of Ethics. The Standards of Conduct require CFP® professionals to act as a “fiduciary” when providing financial advice to a client—acting in the best interest of their financial planning clients. CFP® professionals are subject to CFP Board sanctions if they violate these standards.