Personal finance planning is a complex field requiring careful analysis of one’s financial goals, assets, and liabilities. Many investors often seek expert guidance to build and implement a comprehensive financial plan, which is where a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) can prove invaluable.

A CFP is a professional who has undergone rigorous education, experience, and ethical standards to become certified. In this blog, we explore the role of a CFP and how they can help investors make informed investment decisions.

Certified Financial Planners help individual clients

Certified Financial Planners help individual clients

What is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

A financial advisor or planner is a professional who assists individuals in managing their money and assets to achieve their financial goals. A CFP is a financial planner who has earned certification from the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board). The certification process requires candidates to complete advanced coursework, pass a rigorous certification exam, and demonstrate a level of experience in the financial planning industry.

Qualifications of a Certified Financial Planner

The road to becoming a Certified Financial Planner is not an easy one. While the qualifications mentioned above may seem rigorous, they are designed to ensure certified financial planners provide a high level of competence, ethics, and professionalism.

Let’s take a closer look at the qualifications required to become a CFP.


To be eligible for the CFP designation, you must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college. The degree can be in any field, but it should be complemented with specific coursework in financial planning. This enables candidates to understand the basics tax planning, investment strategies, and retirement planning.


Once you have met the educational requirement, you must have at least 3 years of full-time professional experience in finance-related roles, such as investment management, tax planning, and estate planning. This experience should be relevant to the financial planning industry and should meet the requirements set by the board.

CFP Certification Exam

After meeting the education and work experience requirements, candidates must pass their certification exam. The exam is a six-hour, computer-based, multiple-choice question test evaluating the candidate’s knowledge in financial planning, investment planning, tax planning, retirement planning, and estate planning. Candidates must adhere to the board’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct if they are to become a certified financial planner.

Background Check

Candidates seeking certification must also pass a background check, which involves disclosing any criminal history, adverse business history, and agreeing to adhere to the ethical standards put forward by the certified financial planner board (CFP Board)

Continuing Education

After gaining their certification, CFP professionals must continue their education by completing 30 hours of continuing education every two years. This is mandatory and helps to ensure CFP professionals remain relevant and up to date with the latest financial planning strategies and regulations.

Do your research on Financial Planning Services offered by Certified Financial Planners

Do your research on Financial Planning Services offered by Certified Financial Planners

What Financial Planning Services Do Certified Financial Planners Offer?

CFPs can provide a wide range of financial planning services, including investment management, estate planning, retirement planning, risk management, and tax planning. They work closely with their clients to identify their financial goals, assess their financial situation, and design a comprehensive financial plan to live their best financial life. Moreover, CFPs help in implementing and monitoring a clients financial plan and making necessary adjustments over time to ensure alignment with changing circumstances and market conditions.

What Are The Benefits of Hiring a CFP?

Hiring a CFP has several benefits, including comprehensive financial planning, expert guidance, and access to a wide range of financial products. A CFP can help in creating a personalized financial plan tailoring it to your unique circumstances, which will provide investors with more control over finances. Moreover, they can help in navigating complex financial regulations and financial products, reducing the risk of poor investment choices that could jeopardize a clients financial future.

Factors to Consider When Hiring a CFP

When selecting a CFP, there are several factors to consider, including experience, track record, and compensation structure. An experienced CFP with a solid track record of delivering quality service to clients is more likely to provide sound financial advice. It’s also essential to understand their fee structure, as some CFPs operate on a commission basis. Others may operate on a fee only structure. Fee only means an advisor is paid a set rate for the services.

Below are other factors you may want to consider when hiring a cfp professional.

Check the CFP Board Website

The first step you can take to look for a Certified Financial Planner is to visit the CFP Board website. The CFP Board is the governing body for financial planners in the U.S.. They have a database of all CFP professionals in good standing. By visiting their website, you can search for a financial planner in your area and see if they are CFP-certified. This is an excellent resource to use to begin your search for a qualified CFP.

Look for Referrals

Another way to find a reputable Certified Financial Planner is to ask for referrals. Talk to friends, family members, and colleagues who have a financial planner they trust. Referrals can help you locate a reputable financial planner who has experience working with someone in a similar situation to yours. You can ask questions about how they work, their experience, and their fees.

Research Their Background

When hiring any financial professional research their background before hiring them. This helps in ensuring they have a good reputation and no history of disciplinary actions or complaints. To do this, check the CFP Board website, FINRA BrokerCheck, or the SEC’s Investment Advisor Public Disclosure Database.

Talk to Multiple Financial Planners

Finally, talk to multiple financial planners before making a final decision. This allows you to compare fees, credentials, and opinions on how to manage your finances. The initial consultation should be free, and the planner should provide a detailed proposal on how they plan to work with you. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about their experience working with someone in a similar situation to yours. Once you have talked to multiple financial planners, you can make an informed decision on which one to hire.

What’s the Difference: Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Financial Analyst, Chartered Financial Consultant

When it comes to managing your finances, you will often encounter two terms: chartered financial analyst and certified financial planner. Although both types of professionals specialize in financial planning and investment management, there are key differences between them.

A chartered financial analyst (CFA) typically focuses on working with investment firms or brokerage houses, analyzing and developing investment strategies for clients.

In contrast, a certified financial planner is more focused on providing comprehensive financial planning services, ranging from budgeting, insurance, to estate planning.

A chartered financial consultant (ChFC) is a professional designation granted by the American College of Financial Services. It is designed to recognize individuals who have completed advanced educational courses to gain in-depth financial planning knowledge. The ChFC designation covers topics in management, taxation, investments, retirement planning, estate planning and insurance.

The difference between a ChFC and a CFP is that a CFP focuses more on the development of a financial plan for clients, rather than on the individual topics that the ChFC emphasizes.


A Certified Financial Planner can help clients in achieving financial security by providing expert guidance, a comprehensive financial plan, and access to a wide range of financial products. By hiring a CFP, investors can reduce investment risk, navigate complex financial regulations, and achieve their financial goals. Therefore, it’s essential to choose a CFP with the necessary qualifications, experience, and track record of delivering quality service to ensure that you receive sound financial advice that aligns with your financial objectives.

If you have questions about the CFP designation or if you’re working with the correct professional for your financial planning needs consider becoming a member of Planning Made Simple. Our Planning Made Simple Coaches are financial advisors who have years of providing financial advice to clients, can ensure your financial plan is working in your best interest, and more. Not a member of Planning Made Simple yet? Become one today.