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Becoming a Certified Financial Planner

I would like to formally announce that after two and a half years of certification courses, intense study sessions on nights and weekends and a rigorous board exam in November, I am officially a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM. The CFP® certification will be added to my current designations of Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CPRC®) and Accredited Asset Management Specialist (AAMS®), in addition to my series 7, 66 licenses with LPL Financial and California insurance license.

So what is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM (CFP®) and why is it so important?

To better explain the designation I have included a short description from the CFP Board below:

“The public’s growing need for objective financial planning advice, combined with the rigorous standards demanded of CFP® certificants, has placed the CFP® certification at the forefront of the financial planning profession. Introduced in 1972, the CFP® certification has become the most widely recognized financial planning credential amount consumers and the recognized standard of excellence in personal financial planning. In the absence of uniform government regulation of financial planners, this certification reassures the public that financial planners who are CFP® certificants have voluntarily agreed to adhere to high standard of competence and ethical practice established by CFP Board.”

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 CFP® 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. 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.

So how is being a CFP® certificant any different my current work as a financial advisor?

Since I am committed to distinguishing myself as a financial advisors, I wanted the CFP® designation to remind the public and my clients how passionate and serious I am about helping them reach their life goals by providing the level of knowledge and advice they deserve to make informed financial decisions.

Through the financial planning process, I am able to help you figure out how to meet your life goals by taking a “big picture” view of your current situation and make financial planning recommendations right for you. I can look at all of your needs including budgeting and saving, taxes, investments, insurance and retirement planning or look at a single financial issue but within the context of your overall financial situation. This big picture approach to client’s financial goals is what I feel makes the financial planning relationship very unique.

As always, thank you for your continued support. I look forward to continuing to help you and others reach your lifelong financial dreams!

For further reading about the CFP® certification, please visit the CFP Board’s website