A CFP® professional is an individual who has a demonstrated level of financial planning technical knowledge, has experience in the field, and holds to a client-centered code of ethics.
Unlike many financial advisors, CFP® professionals must develop their theoretical and practical knowledge by completing a comprehensive course of study at a college or university offering a financial planning curriculum approved by the CFP® Board. Applicants may also satisfy the education requirement by submitting a transcript review of previous financial planning-related course work. Or, they can show that they have attained certain professional designations or academic degrees that cover the important subjects in CFP® Board’s financial planning curriculum.
CFP® professionals must pass the comprehensive CFP® Certification Exam, which tests their abilities 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 a CFP® professional is highly qualified to develop a plan for your finances.
CFP® professionals complete several years of experience related to delivering financial planning services to clients prior to earning the right to use the CFP® certification trademarks. 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.
When it comes to ethics and professional responsibility, CFP® professionals are held to the highest of standards, as outlined in the CFP® Board's Standards of Professional Conduct. They are obliged to uphold the principles of integrity, objectivity, competence, fairness, confidentiality, professionalism and diligence as outlined in the CFP® Board’s Code of Ethics. The Rules of Conduct require CFP® professionals to put your interests ahead of their own at all times 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 CFP® Board sanctions if they violate these standards.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc., Retrieved January 5, 2016. (http://www.cfp.net)
AIFA® designees’ primary function is to perform or assist in assessments of an investment steward’s, advisor’s, or manager’s conformance to a Global Fiduciary Standard of Excellence using fi360’s ISO-like procedure of assessment. AIFA® designees possess the ability and knowledge to advise clients of deficiencies in investment processes. Advisors must have the AIFA® designation in order to perform a CEFEX Fiduciary Certification, the independent recognition of a fiduciary’s conformity to all fiduciary practices and criteria.
Fi360. Retrieved April 1st, 2012, (http://www.fi360.com)
fi360 helps its clients gather, grow, and protect assets through better investment and business decision-making. Since 1999, fi360 has been providing innovative solutions to financial services providers, including the AIF® and AIFA® designation programs, the fi360 Toolkit™ software, and fi360 Fiduciary Score®.(http://www.fi360.com)
The QPA credential was created by American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA) to recognize professionals who are qualified to perform the technical and administrative functions of qualified plan administration. QPAs assist employers, actuaries, and consultants in performing functions such as determination of eligibility for benefits, computation of benefits, plan recordkeeping, trust accounting and disclosure, and compliance requirements.
American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries. Retrieved April 1st, 2012, (http://www.asppa.org)
The QKA credential is offered for retirement plan professionals who work primarily with 401(k) plans. Applicants for the QKA credentials are from various professional disciplines. They typically assist employers and consultants with the recordkeeping, nondiscrimination testing, and administrative aspects of 401(k) and related defined contribution plans.