PAM Guide to Wealth Management

Financial planners

The Certified Financial Planner (CFP) licence is a qualification granted by the Institute of Financial Planning. Any adviser can call him or herself a financial planner. But only those who have fulfilled the licence and renewal requirements of the Institute of Financial Planning can display the CFP licence mark.

Individuals certified by the CFP licence have voluntarily submitted to the CFP process that includes an education, examination, experience and ethical process.

  • Education - CFP practitioners must develop their theoretical and practical financial planning knowledge by maintaining their competence on an ongoing basis.
  • Examination - CFP practitioners must pass a case study set by the Institute of Financial Planning that tests their ability to apply financial planning knowledge in an integrated way. This usually takes around 60 hours to complete. The case study covers the financial planning process, tax planning, employee benefits and retirement planning, estate planning, investment management and insurance.
  • Experience - CFP practitioners must be AFPC qualified or equivalent and have three years minimum experience in financial planning prior to earning the right to use the CFP licence marks.
  • Ethics - The final stage is for CFP practitioners to agree to abide by a code of professional conduct. This is known as the IFP's Code of Ethics and Professional Standards and sets out their ethical responsibilities to the public, clients and employers. Each candidate for the CFP licence must disclose any investigations or legal proceedings related to their professional or business conduct.

Through the Code of Ethics, CFP practitioners agree to act fairly and diligently when providing you with financial planning advice and services. The Code of Ethics states that CFP practitioners are to act with integrity, offering you professional services that are objective and based on your needs. They are required to provide you with information about their sources of compensation and conflicts of interest in writing and CFP practitioners must keep confidential any personal details obtained while working with you.

Once certified, CFP practitioners are required to maintain technical competence and fulfil ethical obligations. Every year, they must complete a minimum 30 hours of continuing professional education. In addition to the continuing education requirement, all CFP practitioners voluntarily disclose any public, civil, criminal, or disciplinary actions that may have been taken against them during the previous year, as part of the renewal process.

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