Certified Financial Planner™ Certification (CFP)


A Certified Financial Planner™ Certification (CFP) Professional helps individuals determine whether and how they can meet their life goals through the management of financial resources. To do this a Certified Financial Planner Professional analyzes where the individual is financially, where they want to go, and how do they get there.

In most cases a Certified Financial Planner Professional analysis and recommendations are provided in a written financial plan. The CFP® oftentimes coordinates the implementation and monitoring of the plan.

Income is generally fee-based.


The Exam

The Certified Financial Planner™ Certification exam format is determined by the CFP® Board of Standards. The exam is given over a two-day period, Friday and Saturday, for a total of 10 hours. The CFP® exam is a rigorous exam that tests knowledge and application. There are currently 106 job knowledge requirements specified by the Board of Standards — and these topics are tested on in the CFP® exam.

You must contact the CFP® Board of Standards at (800) 487-1497 to register for the exam. The purchase of study materials does not register you for the exam.

To receive a list of CFP® study materials providers please click here.


Series 7, Series 63, and Series 65 Exams

Many Certified Financial Planner™ Professionals affiliate with FINRA member firms (i.e., brokerage houses) and become Registered Representatives (i.e., “stockbroker”). This allows the CFP® to receive commissions on the securities they buy or sell on behalf of their clients. Accordingly, they go on to take the FINRA Series 7 and Series 63 exams.

A CFP® may form their own Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) firms. In this instance they charge a fee (hourly or percentage of assets under management) for their advice and are required to register with their state securities commission, create a disclosure document (i.e., “ADV”), and pass the Series 65 exam.

Note that the Series 66 exam is treated as the equivalent of the Series 63 and Series 65 exams if the registrant holds the Series 7 registration.

Click here to order FINRA study materials.


Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, Certified Financial Planner™ and Federally registered CFP (with flame logo) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete initial and ongoing certification.