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The CFP® Designation

The CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation is a professional certification mark for financial planners conferred by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards in the United States. 

Education Requirements

The candidate must complete a bachelor's degree in any discipline, from an accredited college or university. The bachelor's degree requirement may be completed within 5 years after passing the CFP exam.  Students are required to master a curriculum of approximately 100 topics on financial planning. The curriculum taught is equivalent to 18 semester credit hours.  The major study areas include:

  • General principles of finance & financial planning
  • Investment and Securities Planning
  • State and federal income tax planning
  • Asset protection planning
  • Retirement planning
  • Estate planning
  • Financial planning and consulting

In addition the student must also complete the following:

  • Three years full-time or equivalent (2,000 hours per year) part-time experience in the financial planning field.  Be approved by the CFP Board during initial certification, which also involves an extensive background check—including an ethics, character and criminal check.


Students and Certificants are required to adhere to the CFP Board Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility and to the Financial Planning Practice Standards.  Registered investment advisors have a fiduciary duty to care for investments. The CFP Board has the right to enforce conformity through its Disciplinary Rules and Procedures.