Looking for a financial advisor? Be careful — the term “financial advisor” is a fairly broad one that covers many different levels of qualifications. There is not a single standardized requirement for financial advisors in all states across the U.S. to have a minimum level of education, experience, or ethics to offer their services.

To make matters more confusing, there are many variations out there with advisor titles and terminology — whether it be investment advisors, financial planners, stockbrokers, registered representatives, or others.

Financial planner and his client
photo credit: Gustavo Fring / Pexels

The good news is that there is one financial advisor title that stands out from the rest and universally levels the playing field for you: the Certified Financial Planner®, or CFP® certification.

More About the CFP® Designation

The Certified Financial Planner® Board of Standards, or CFP® Board, was established in 1985. It is an independent, non-profit organization that requires certain education and ethics standards among its members.

Over 89,000 financial planners use the Certified Financial Planner® certification in the United States1 but interestingly that only equates to about 1 out of 5 financial advisors in the U.S.

Why are there relatively few financial advisors that avail themselves of the Certified Financial Planner® certification? The primary reason is that obtaining the CFP® designation is not automatic or easy. Financial advisors that wish to use the title of CFP® must first accomplish the following:

  • Obtain a bachelor’s degree;
  • Complete financial planning coursework through a CFP® Board-registered program. This can take 12-18 months on average to complete2;
  • Pass a 170-question, six-hour exam;
  • Finish at least 6,000 hours of professional financial planning experience (or complete 4,000 hours of apprenticeship experience3);
  • Sign an Ethics Declaration, which certifies that their practice will be ethical, and they will act as a fiduciary to their clients.

The CFP® testing curriculum is also very comprehensive, covering all facets needed across the practice of financial planning. These areas include topics such as investments, retirement, taxes, estates, insurance, risk management, and ethics. To pass the exam, CFP® candidates will need to become knowledgeable across all these subjects.

Businessman meeting with his financial planner

A CFP® Certification Has Its Benefits

The process of searching for a financial advisor requires due diligence on an advisor’s background. The good news is that the CFP® Board has already done some of the work for you. You can save yourself from a lot of time, effort, and frustration by selecting from a list of financial advisors who can use the Certified Financial Planner® designation.

Modera is proudly a fee-only and independently owned financial planning firm that acts as a fiduciary for our clients. We have built our organization to put our clients’ interests first.

Call Modera and our Atlanta financial advisors to learn more and set up an initial meeting with our team.

Modera Wealth Management, LLC (“Modera”) is an SEC-registered investment advisor with places of business in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Modera may only transact business in those states in which it is registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration requirements. SEC registration does not imply any level of skill or training.  For information pertaining to our registration status, fees and services, please contact us or refer to the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure web site (www.adviserinfo.sec.gov) to obtain a copy of our disclosure statement set forth in Form ADV Part 2A. Please read the disclosure statement carefully before you invest or send money.

This article is limited to the dissemination of general information about Modera’s investment advisory and financial planning services that is not suitable for everyone. Nothing herein should be interpreted or construed as investment advice nor as legal, tax or accounting advice nor as personalized financial planning, tax planning or wealth management advice. For legal, tax and accounting-related matters, we recommend you seek the advice of a qualified attorney or accountant. This article is not a substitute for personalized investment or financial planning from Modera. There is no guarantee that the views and opinions expressed herein will come to pass, and the information herein should not be considered a solicitation to engage in a particular investment or financial planning strategy. The statements, information and opinions expressed in this article are subject to change without notice.

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1 https://www.cfp.net/knowledge/reports-and-statistics/professional-demographics

2 https://www.cfp.net/get-certified/certification-process

3 https://www.cfp.net/get-certified/certification-process