Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards
Certified Financial Planners Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board)
MDDesign BlBk.gif
Type Professional Organization
Founded 1985
Key people Kevin R. Keller, CEO
Area served United States
Focus Financial Planning
Method Certification, Industry standards, Conferences, Publications
Employees 51-200 employees
Members 61,000+
Website www.CFP.net www.LetsMakeAPlan.org

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) is the non-profit certifying and standards-setting organization that administers the Certified Financial Planner certification program and oversees more than 61,000 professionals using the CFP certification in the United States.



The mission of Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. is to benefit the public by granting the CFP certification and upholding it as the recognized standard of excellence for personal financial planning[1].

Core Objectives

CFP Board has established six core objectives that support CFP Board's mission[1].

  • Credentialing: Provide the most rigorous financial planning credentialing process that is valid, reliable and legally defensible.
  • Education: Establish and enforce educational standards for enhancing the knowledge, skills and abilities of current and potential CFP certificants.
  • Enforcement: Protect the public’s interest through rigorous, ongoing enforcement of CFP Board’s Standards of Professional Conduct.
  • Communication: Build the CFP certification brand as the recognized standard of excellence in financial planning; Promote its understanding and acceptance among the public and other stakeholders.
  • Advocacy: Influence policy to benefit the public and increase access for all to competent and ethical financial planning.
  • Sustainability: Strengthen CFP Board’s capacity to achieve its mission and serve all stakeholders in a timely, accurate and professional manner.

CFP Board History

CFP Board’s formation took place relatively early in the development of the movement that became known as the financial planning profession. The idea that people could benefit from professional assistance from a profession that integrated knowledge and practices from the many often-fragmented areas of the financial services industry developed soon after World War II, as new financial products and services evolved to meet the needs of Americans.

On December 12, 1969, thirteen men met in Chicago and outlined the first steps needed to establish these integrated practices as a new profession called financial planning[2]. At the meeting, resolutions were made to create a membership organization named the International Association for Financial Planners (IAFP) and a new educational institution that would be named the College for Financial Planning[3].

Those resolutions took concrete form in 1972, when IAFP enrolled its very first group of students for the Certified Financial Planners (CFP) course offered by the newly-established College[4]. The 35 members of the first graduating class formed a new membership organization, the Institute of Certified Financial Planners (ICFP), upon their graduation in October 1973[4].

More than a decade after the introduction of the educational program that led to CFP certification, it became clear that while the College had made great strides in developing the body of knowledge that was a vital component of developing financial planning professionals, an educational institution was not the proper entity to enforce the ethical standards that were also an integral part of the developing profession. The College entered an agreement that established an independent, non-profit certifying and standards-setting organization to which it would transfer ownership of the CFP marks and responsibility for administering and enforcing the standards required to attain the right to use those marks.

In July 1985 came the announcement of the formation of the new non-profit certifying body, the International Board of Standards and Practices for Certified Financial Planners, Inc. (IBCFP), which was renamed Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. in 1994[5]. While the wording of CFP Board’s mission and objectives have changed over the years, CFP Board’s paramount objective is to benefit the consumer public by promoting the value of professional, competent and ethical financial planning services, as represented by those who have attained CFP certification.

In April 1995, CFP Board’s certification program received accreditation from the National Commission for Certifying Agencies[6] (NCCA) of the National Organization for Competency Assurance (now the Institute for Credentialing Excellence), the first such accreditation for a non-health related certification in the U.S. CFP Board earned NCCA accreditation because it showed that its certification program is grounded in, and continues to meet, legal testing requirements and generally accepted certification standards.

In December 2007, after more than 20 years of operations in Denver, CO., CFP Board moved its office to Washington, DC[7]. The decision to relocate the organization was based upon an ongoing review of how CFP Board can best respond to America's increasing need for CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professionals. After careful study, the Board concluded that the future success of the organization was dependent upon its close proximity to regulators, policymakers, and other industry and credentialing organizations that influence debates within the industry. As a non-profit organization that has been granted 501(c)(3) status by the Internal Revenue Service[8], CFP Board operates within limitations that prevent it from engaging in aggressive lobbying activities; however, thanks to the high standards CFP Board maintains for those who hold CFP certification and to the competent and ethical services that tens of thousands of CFP professionals provide to the American public on an ongoing basis, CFP Board is a well-respected organization in a unique position to advocate the value of personal financial planning, for the public interest. In 2010, CFP Board has supported the draft Financial Planners Act of 2010 to S.3271[9].

CFP Certification Around the Globe

Following widespread interest in the CFP certification program from individuals and organizations around the globe in 1990, CFP Board facilitated the establishment of the International CFP Council to promote the professionalism of individuals and organizations offering financial planning services and to ensure that such services are offered in an ethical and competent manner throughout the world.

In 2004, responsibility for administering the CFP certification program outside the U.S. was transferred from CFP Board and the International CFP Council to an independent organization, Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB)[10], established to further foster the internationalization of the CFP marks. A nonprofit, international standards-setting body, FPSB is a nonprofit association that manages, develops and operates certification, education and related programs for financial planning organizations so that they may benefit and protect the global community by establishing, upholding and promoting worldwide professional standards in personal financial planning. FPSB’s commitment to excellence is represented by the CFP and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER and CFP (with flame logo) trademarks, which FPSB owns outside the U.S. FPSB works in conjunction with its members to develop and promote rigorous international competency, ethics and professional practice standards for CFP professionals in member countries/regions to ensure that consumers looking for qualified personal financial planners understand and value CFP certification.

As of April 2010, FPSB has members and associate members from 23 territories around the world, including CFP Board, which joined FPSB in 2008[11]. Collectively, FPSB members have authorized more than 126,000 individuals to use the CFP marks in their respective countries and regions.

CFP Board’s Certification Requirements

CFP Board awards CFP certification in the United States to individuals who meet its initial and ongoing certification requirements. Initial certification requirements include the “4 E’s”[12]:

  • Education: More than 200 institutions across the United States offer educational programs that satisfy CFP Board’s education coursework requirement and qualify individuals to take the CFP Certification Examination.[13] Applicants for CFP certification must also hold a qualified bachelor’s degree.
  • Examination: The CFP Certification Examination[14] is offered three times a year at more than 50 locations across the United States. Approximately 6,000-7,000 individuals take the exam each year, and the cumulative average pass rate for each exam administration is 57%.[15]
  • Experience: Applicants for CFP certification must complete at least three years of full-time experience delivering all or part of the financial planning process to clients.
  • Ethics: Applicants for CFP certification must agree to abide by CFP Board’s Standards of Professional Conduct and consent to CFP Board’s authority to enforce those standards.

CFP certification must be renewed biannually by completing ongoing certification requirements, including continuing education and continued adherence to CFP Board’s Standards of Professional Conduct[16]. CFP Board’s certification requirements are amended from time to time.

In March 2010, CFP Board adopted a new “Financial Plan Development Course” requirement that will require future applicants to take a new course that demonstrates their ability to deliver professional and competent financial planning services to the public[17]. The new course requirement will take effect no earlier than March 2012.

Standards of Professional Conduct

Individuals who hold CFP certification agree to abide by a set of documents collectively referred to as CFP Board’s Standards of Professional Conduct (Standards), including a Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, Rules of Conduct, Financial Planning Practice Standards and Candidate Fitness Standards.

CFP Board adopted its first code of ethics in 1986. In 2006, CFP Board’s release of proposed changes to the Standards generated controversy within the financial planning profession by introducing a fiduciary standard of care that was negotiable. Following two public comment periods, CFP Board adopted a set of revisions to the Standards that included a non-negotiable fiduciary standard of care for financial planning services[18]

CFP Board enforces the Standards through a process outlined in its Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Hearings for cases involving alleged violation of the Standards are held by CFP Board’s Disciplinary and Ethics Commission, which can impose discipline where appropriate. Disciplinary actions taken by CFP Board, in order of increasing severity, include private censures, public letters of admonition, suspensions, and permanent revocations. Information about the disciplinary history of CFP certificants is available online[19].

The Financial Planning Coalition

In December 2008, CFP Board entered into a collaboration with the Financial Planning Association[20] and National Association of Personal Financial Advisors[21] (NAPFA) to create the Financial Planning Coalition[22] with the goal of representing financial planners as the U.S. government works to reform the financial services industry.

CFP Board and the General Public

CFP Board provides the public with information and resources designed to allow them to make quality decisions when seeking professional financial planning services. In 2006, CFP Board hosted its first Financial Planning Clinic, providing people in the Los Angeles area with the opportunity to attend workshops and hold private consultations with volunteer CFP certificants at no cost. Since 2006, additional Financial Planning Clinics have been held in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, Miami, Oakland, San Francisco and Washington, DC [23].


  1. ^ a b "Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. - Mission & History". Cfp.net. http://www.cfp.net/aboutus/mission.asp. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  2. ^ "Texas Tech University :: A New Home for Financial Planning Archives". Depts.ttu.edu. 2010-04-08. http://www.depts.ttu.edu/pfp/archives.php. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  3. ^ "College for Financial Planning Home Page". cffp.edu. http://www.cffp.edu/index.aspx. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  4. ^ a b The History of Financial Planning: The Transformation of Financial Services. Wiley. 2009. p. 278. ISBN 978-0-470-18074-7. http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0470180749,descCd-buy.html. Retrieved 06-04-10. 
  5. ^ "Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. - About Us". Cfp.net. http://www.cfp.net/aboutus/. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  6. ^ "Accredited Certification Programs". Credentialingexcellence.org. http://www.credentialingexcellence.org/NCCAAccreditation/AccreditedCertificationPrograms/tabid/120/Default.aspx. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  7. ^ "CFP Board Moving HQ To Washington". Fa-mag.com. 2007-04-17. http://www.fa-mag.com/fa-news/2882-.html. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  8. ^ "Exemption Requirements - Section 501(c)(3) Organizations". Irs.gov. 2009-12-07. http://www.irs.gov/charities/charitable/article/0,,id=96099,00.html. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  9. ^ [1]|S.3271
  10. ^ "Financial Planning Standards Board". FPSB. http://www.fpsb.org/. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  11. ^ "CFP Board". FPSB. 2007-11-06. http://www.fpsb.org/news/2007/309-cfp-board-joins-fpsb.html. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  12. ^ "What is a CFPÂ Professional?". Fpanet.org. http://www.fpanet.org/CareerPractice/CFPCertificationResources/WhatisaCFPProfessional/. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  13. ^ Horowitz, Jed (2010-03-08). "CFP Board hikes requirement for certification exam". Investment News. http://www.investmentnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100308/FREE/100309907/. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  14. ^ "Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. - CFP Certification Examination". Cfp.net. http://www.cfp.net/become/examdetails.asp. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  15. ^ http://www.CFP.net/media/survey.asp?id=9, cfp.net
  16. ^ "2003 prof stds1" (PDF). http://www.cfp.net/Downloads/2010Standards.pdf. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  17. ^ Horowitz, Jed (2010-03-08). "CFP Board hikes requirement for certification exam". Investment News. http://www.investmentnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100308/FREE/100309907/-1/INDaily01. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  18. ^ "In Defense Of The CFP Mark". Fa-mag.com. http://www.fa-mag.com/online-extras/4044-in-defense-of-the-cfp-mark.html. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  19. ^ "Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. - Search for a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER Professional". Cfp.net. 2007-11-12. http://www.cfp.net/search/. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  20. ^ "Financial Planning Association — Information & Resources for Financial Planners". Fpanet.org. 2010-04-19. http://www.fpanet.org/. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  21. ^ "Home Page - NAPFA - The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors". NAPFA. 2009-12-03. http://www.napfa.org/. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  22. ^ "Home". Financial Planning Coalition. http://www.financialplanningcoalition.com/. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  23. ^ "Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. - CFP Board's Financial Planning Clinics". Cfp.net. http://www.cfp.net/learn/clinic.asp. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 

External links

  • CFP Board official Web site [2]
  • College for Financial Planning [3]
  • Financial Planning Coalition [4]
  • Financial Planning Standards Board [5]
  • Institute for Credentialing Excellence [6]
  • Institute for Financial Planning, UK [7]

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