Choosing a Planner

CFP® Designation

Why are the CFP® certification requirements important?
Most people think that all financial planners are "certified," but this isn’t true. Anyone can call himself or herself a "financial planner." Only those who have fulfilled the certification and renewal requirements of CFP Board can display the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM certification marks. When selecting a financial planner, you need to feel confident that the person you choose to help you plan for your future is competent and ethical. The CFP® certification provides that sense of security by allowing only those who meet the following requirements the right to use the CFP® certification marks.

CFP® certification requirements

Education: CFP® professionals must develop their theoretical and practical financial planning knowledge by completing a comprehensive course of study at a college or university offering a financial planning curriculum approved by CFP Board. Other options for satisfying the education component include submitting a transcript review or previous financial planning-related course work to CFP Board for review and credit or showing the attainment of certain professional designations or academic degrees.
 

Examination: CFP® practitioners must pass a comprehensive two-day, 10-hour CFP® certification examination that tests their ability to apply financial planning knowledge in an integrated format. Based on regular research of what planners do, the exam covers the financial planning process, tax planning, employee benefits and retirement planning, estate planning, investment management, and insurance.
 

Experience: CFP® professionals must have three years minimum experience in the financial planning process prior to earning the right to use the CFP® certification marks. As a result, CFP® practitioners possess financial counseling skills in addition to financial planning knowledge.
 

Ethics: As a final step to certification, CFP® practitioners agree to abide by a strict code of professional conduct, known as CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, that sets forth their ethical responsibilities to the public, clients and employers. The CFP Board also performs a background check during this process, and each individual must disclose any investigations or legal proceedings related to their professional or business conduct.
 

How does the CFP Board’s Code of Ethics benefit me?
Through the Code of Ethics, CFP® practitioners agree to act fairly and diligently when providing you with financial planning advice and services, putting your interests first. The Code of Ethics states that CFP® practitioners are to act with integrity, offering you professional services that are objective and based on your needs. They are required to provide you with information about their sources of compensation and conflicts of interest in writing.
 

Ongoing certification requirements
Once certified, CFP® practitioners are required to maintain technical competence and fulfill ethical obligations. Every two years, they must complete a minimum 30 hours of continuing education to stay current with developments in the financial planning profession and better serve clients. Two of these hours are spent studying or discussing CFP Board’s Code of Ethics or Practice Standards. In addition to the biennial continuing education requirement, all CFP® practitioners voluntarily disclose any public, civil, criminal, or disciplinary actions that may have been taken against them during the previous two years as part of the renewal process.
 

Why Are the CFP® Certification Requirements Important? Copyright © 2007, Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

 

AIF® Designation

Overview
A "fiduciary" is someone who is managing the assets of another person and stands in a special relationship of trust, confidence, and/or legal responsibility. A fiduciary is required by law to always act in the best interests of his or her client, beneficiary, or retirement plan participant. Yet, many fiduciaries are not even aware of their duties and responsibilities.

Accredited Investment Fiduciary® designees have acquired a thorough knowledge of fiduciary responsibility and can be an invaluable resource to investment fiduciaries and individual investors alike. An AIF® designation represents that person's knowledge of a Global Fiduciary Standard of Excellence and his or her application of the global standard into his or her own practice. Don't risk going at it alone; AIF® designees have the training necessary to ensure that an investment process is managed to an appropriate fiduciary standard of care.

Training
AIF® designees have successfully completed a specialized program on investment fiduciary standards of care. fi360 training began in 1999 to provide the investment industry with the first full-time training and research organization focused exclusively on investment fiduciary responsibility and portfolio management.

Designees are required to complete a rigorous training program, successfully pass an examination, conform to a code of ethics, and adhere to continuing education requirements on a yearly basis. These requirements ensure that designees are familiar with the prudent process developed by fi360, as well as kept up to date with recent industry events affecting fiduciaries.

 

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