What is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional?

When you are seeking financial advice or help with creating and implementing a financial plan, who do you turn to? When you do find someone to work with, what credentials do they have to help you know they can provide you with the service and expertise you need? For example, if you need a lawyer, not just anyone can call themselves an attorney and provide professional legal services. Likewise, if you need medical care, not just anyone can call themselves a doctor and provide an authoritative medical diagnosis, perform a surgery, or legitimately prescribe medication.

In these situations, these professionals had to go through years of formal education, pass certification exams, and obtain certain levels of experience and expertise to qualify to serve you. However, in the financial planning profession, literally anyone can call themselves a financial planner, financial coach, or financial counselor without any legal regulation.

The good news is that there is one professional certification in the financial planning industry that is generally looked upon as the highest standard in terms of expertise, education, experience, and ethics, and which truly distinguishes one as having qualified for the profession of being a legitimate and comprehensive personal financial planner: this is the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification.

To obtain this certification requires extensive training, education, and testing requirements in subjects such as insurance planning, employee benefits, investments, tax planning, retirement income planning, and estate planning. In addition to this training, CFP® certificants must pass a Board Certification Exam as well as have years of approved professional financial planning experience. And, after becoming certified, CFP® professionals must complete ongoing continuing education requirements to maintain their certification.

Finally, a CFP® professional must commit to a “fiduciary standard”, which means they must always act in the client’s best interest. This is a higher standard than the more common “suitability standard” that most financial professionals are required to abide by, which only obligates a financial professional to simply present a solution that benefits their client but is not necessarily the best option.

In short, the CFP® mark is the highest standard and most respected certification in the personal financial planning industry, and it can help you know that you are working with someone who has been thoroughly trained and is committed to doing what is best for you.

To verify if your financial planner is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, go to www.cfp.net/verify-a-cfp-professional.

To learn more about how a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional can help you, go to www.letsmakeaplan.org.