How to become a Certified Financial Planner

How to Become a Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

According to ONET- Occupational Information Network at, financial services jobs will remain in demand. Right now and in the coming years is as good a time as any to get involved in this field. With the routine downturns in the economy at one time or another, there is always a need for sharp financial planners. Not all financial planners are certified but a certification will most surely increase your employability and credibility.

Nearly anyone can become a certified financial planner. The planners who will succeed and do their clients the most good will not only become certified in financial planning, they will become professionals who are trustworthy, practice sound financial habits and demonstrate reliable life practices.

The Job

Financial planners and advisors routinely advise clients and users with their expertise and services on financial issues that range from tax planning, investment analysis, cash flow, insurance, real estate and retirement. Financial planners are hired to help clients make sound financial choices and decisions based on facts, the economy and prudent financial education.

The Road to Certification

The road to certification can take anywhere from 2 to 4 years or more. Many independent organizations provide the education needed and the examinations which lead to certification.

The typical protocol is to study for 6 months to a year then take qualifying examinations. Passing some tests and having previous experience can also help planners meet qualifications to become members of professional organizations.

You can also apply directly to companies like Morgan Stanley and Charles Schwab for entry level positions in financial planning. If you are a good fit for the company and pass an entrance exam you can be accepted into a training program.

You can work for a company or you can work for yourself. It’s common for financial planners to be become self- employed sole proprietors or start their own corporations and be highly successful.

Some financial planning titles include: Certified Financial Planner, Asset Manager, Estate Planner, Financial Counselor, Tax Advisor, Benefit Specialist, Divorce Financial Analyst, Chartered Financial Analysts, Financial Analyst, Investment Management Consultant, Investment Management Analyst, Health Underwriter and Financial Gerontologist.

Most traditional universities and community colleges offer financial planning courses and degree programs. A quick search at The Princeton Review should turn up a list of colleges for you to begin research efforts. You may need to create a free account.

Otherwise, find out more information on certification at the following agencies:

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards:

Financial Planning Association:

The American College in Pennsylvania at Brryn Mar offers on campus and distance education to more than 40,000 students per year. It is a highly regarded academic institution. The American College has graduated many highly successful financial professionals who decorate the offices of Wall Street.

Helpful Skills for Financial Planners

Numbers Facility: If you are considering going into financial planning you should be comfortable working with numbers and numeric details. I believe learning to become proficient in math is threefold. Some of us are great with using calculators such as the Hewlett Packard 12-C, Microsoft Excel or computing numbers mentally. Either way having a facility for the three of these methods, which you can naturally develop with practice, will contribute to your success as a planner.

Interpersonal Skills: Many planners are responsible for business development in the way of establishing, building and maintaining relationships with potential clients and current clients. So, knowing how to push the right people buttons will ensure that business and work is always available.

Marketing Skills: Sometimes marketing and selling products and services go hand in hand. In financial planning, you will need marketing skills to present what good you can offer the client in the best light. On the sales end you will need to know how to ask for the client’s money in exchange for your services. Sales and marketing like other skills can be learned. The good thing about financial planning is that if it’s a product that can help your client make or save money, it may more than likely sell itself.

Networking Skills: Networking skills are always good to have. Knowing who can provide dependable key services or who can help you meet your goals is helpful to everyone. Networking serves financial planners well by helping them to get their name and service offerings known to people. Networking is a good method to build a regular stream of clients.

Using Informational Interviewing

A good place to start Certified Financial Planner career research is by talking with your own planner. If you don’t have one you can log onto to find a planner in your area. When you find a planner call to schedule an Informational Interview. Use a website like to compile a list of informational interview questions.

Doing an informational interview will help you learn about the day in the life of financial planners. This information will also help you to form decisions about whether or not financial planning is something that interests you and can sustain you for ten or more years.

Also, informational interviews enable you to develop contacts in the Financial Planning field. Whether you decide to become a financial planner or not you can build a list of meaningful contacts to befriend or use in other business transactions.

Financial planning will likely always be in demand. When aiming for this field make sure that you have areas of responsibility on your resume that speak to your dependability and success on the job. Hiring managers appreciate transferable skills but part of financial responsibility implies doing what you say you will do, or keeping your word, in all areas of your life. A good reputation is key.