CFP® professionals must pass the comprehensive CFP® certification exam, which tests their ability to apply financial planning knowledge to real-life situations. The exam covers the financial planning process, tax planning, employee benefits and retirement planning, estate planning, investment management and insurance. This comprehensive exam ensures that CFP® professionals are highly qualified to develop a plan for your finances.
CFP® professionals must have a minimum of three years’ experience in the financial planning process prior to earning the right to use the CFP® certification marks. This hands-on experience guarantees that CFP® professionals have practical financial planning knowledge, so you can count on them to help you create a realistic financial plan that fits your individual needs.
CFP® professionals are held to the highest of standards. The CFP® Board's code of ethics outlines CFP® professionals’ obligations to uphold principles of integrity, objectivity, competence, fairness, confidentiality, professionalism and diligence. The rules of conduct require CFP® professionals to put clients’ interests above their own, and to provide their financial planning services as a "fiduciary" — acting in the best interest of their financial planning clients. CFP® professionals are subject to sanctions if they violate these standards.
The CFP® Board's rigorous enforcement of its standards of professional conduct — including releasing disciplinary information to the public — distinguishes the CFP® certification from the many other designations in the financial services industry. Anyone who seeks CFP® certification is subject to a background check, and those whose past conduct falls short of the CFP® Board's ethical and practice standards can be barred from becoming certified.