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HomeBlogQ & A with a CFP® Professional (Certified Financial Planner™)

ANDREW SILVER, CFP® Professional
Financial Advisor, Financial Planning Analyst at our South Hills Office

What is the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™  Board, and what is the importance of this designation?

A. The CFP® Board is a non-profit organization that serves the public interest by establishing and enforcing professional standards for CFP® certification. They are responsible for determining the requirements for obtaining the CFP® certification, and what active CFP® professionals must do in order to maintain certification.

CFP® certification is recognized as the highest standard of personal financial planning. Not only must CFP® professionals complete rigorous coursework and display proficiency in various areas of financial planning, but they also must commit to meeting the high ethical and professional standards outlined by the CFP® Board.

Q. What training do you have to go through to obtain CFP® certification?

A. Those seeking certification must complete college or university-level coursework through a program registered with the CFP® Board. This coursework must address the major areas of personal financial planning as identified by the CFP® Board, including but not limited to, retirement planning, tax planning, investment planning, estate planning and risk management/insurance planning.

Q. What are the four E’s required for CFP® certification?

A. As defined on the CFP® Board website, the four E’s are education, examination, experience and ethics. CFP® professionals must complete a comprehensive course of study in financial planning at an approved college or university to satisfy the education requirement. After completing the course of study, the comprehensive CFP® Certification Exam must be passed, which tests one’s ability to apply financial planning knowledge to real-life situations. A bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university is required prior to pursuing a CFP® designation . CFP® professionals must have several years of work experience related to delivering financial planning services to clients in order to attain certification. Finally, CFP® professionals are held to the highest ethical standards, including the fiduciary level of care when providing financial planning services. CFP® professionals who violate these standards are subject to sanctions by the CFP® Board.1

Q. Can you explain the CFP® Board’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct?

A. The Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct set forth the ethical standards for CFP® professionals. The CFP® Board enforces these ethical standards through an investigative and disciplinary process. Anyone seeking CFP® certification is subject to a background check, and anyone whose conduct falls short of CFP® Board’s standards can be barred from becoming certified. If active CFP® professionals are found to have violated the code, they may be subject to suspension or permanent revocation of certification. This enforcement process is designed to protect the integrity and credibility of the CFP® certification.

Q. Why would an investor seek out a CFP® professional?

A. CFP® professionals must have several years of experience in delivering financial planning services, complete an education program and pass the comprehensive CFP® Certification Exam before earning the CFP® designation. Perhaps more importantly, CFP® professionals must adhere to a fiduciary standard of care when providing financial planning advice, meaning that they must act in the best interest of the client. Not all financial advisors are obligated to act in their clients’ best interest, so it is important to understand the ethical requirements of a financial advisor before establishing a relationship.

Q. What training do you need to maintain this certification?

A. CFP® professionals must satisfy continuing education requirements in order to maintain certification. Continuing education credit hours can be obtained by several methods, such as attending in-person seminars or completing self-study programs.

Q. How has the CFP® certification helped your career? How has it helped your clients?

A. Earning the CFP® certification has been instrumental in my career. It has led to opportunities professionally that likely would not have been otherwise available. Because of my CFP® training, my knowledge in financial planning has been enhanced tremendously. This allows me to look at my clients’ financial situations more comprehensively and identify more areas where I can add value.


Rachel Weaver, Financial Planning Analyst recently passed the CFP® exam!

Q. What type of commitment did it take to study for and ultimately pass the CFP® exam?

I participated in a 9-month, 228-hour live course at Duquesne University, as opposed to doing the self-study, which typically takes anywhere from two and a half to three years to complete. Classes finished in mid- May, then I studied until the cumulative final exam in July. I typically spent 10-15 hours a week studying.

Q. Was it a struggle to study for this certification while working full-time?

I wouldn’t call it a struggle, but I had to be very disciplined about time management and prioritizing my studying before most everything else. For example, bike racing is a huge passion of mine, and I had to cut back on my training and racing schedule in the last year. The sacrifices were worthwhile!

Q. Why did you decide to earn this designation?

The CFP® designation is the highest standard in financial planning. The knowledge gained during my course of study has strengthened my skills as a financial planner, and helped me add to the depth of planning we do for our clients.

Photos: Jennae Backo

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