Becoming a Certified Financial Advisor
If you are looking for new career path, becoming a certified financial planner (CFP) may be a good option for you. It is a path that is especially well-suited to individuals who already have significant work experience and a solid work ethic. Life experience is also an advantage for those embarking on a financial planning career, since people who have faced their own financial challenges can better relate to clients, and an existing professional network can provide a terrific head start for a fledgling financial planner. If this is a path that interests you, here is some need-to-know information on how to become a CFP.
Your First Step: Find Out Whether Financial Planning Is For You
Becoming certified as a financial planner will require a significant investment of your time and money, so it is wise to spend a bit of time evaluating whether this new career path is right for you. The first thing to consider is the personal characteristics that spell success in the field. You will need to be disciplined and organized in your work habits, able to sell yourself and your services and an ability to empathize with clients is essential. If you feel you may be a good match, taking a test-drive in the form of an internship or mentoring arrangement can be very helpful in making your best final decision.
Certain educational requirements must be met to become a certified financial planner. Firstly, to be eligible to sit for the exam, candidates must demonstrate knowledge in all areas covered by the certification exam. Secondly, candidates must hold a bachelor's degree in any discipline in order to be certified.
Fulfilling the requirement to demonstrate knowledge can be done in several ways. The most common means is to complete a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Board-Registered Education Program. These are offered by a variety of colleges, universities and specialty schools, and include traditional classroom courses or distance learning programs, as well as programs that are some combination of the two.
Accepted equivalents to meet the knowledge requirement include holding a professional credential or degree approved by the CFP board. These include:
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
- Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
- Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU)
- Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
- An active or inactive attorney license, or
- A PhD in business or economics.>
Finally, if you have completed equivalent coursework at an accredited institution, you may receive credit towards the required coursework, reducing the time you must spend taking finance classes.
As to the bachelor's degree requirement, this is a requirement for initial certification, but not for exam eligibility. That means that it does not necessarily have to be met before your exam, but you must have your degree within 5 years of passing the exam to earn your CFP certification.
Once you have finished your CFP Board-Registered program or otherwise fulfilled the educational requirements, registering for your certification exam is your next step. A rigorous exam, the CFP Certification exam is 10 hours long and is given over a period of two days.
After passing your exam, you will be eligible for the certification process. This includes a background check, an agreement to adhere to the CFP Board's Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility and Financial Planning Practice Standards, and accumulation and/or verification of qualifying work experience.
Becoming a Certified Financial Planner is the first step towards a career in the financial securities field. Form the foundation for this career with a continuing education program at Bryant & Stratton College.
- Financial Securities Series