(StatePoint) Bringing all the pieces of your financial life together, from budgeting to planning for retirement to saving for education to managing your taxes and insurance coverage, is a challenging and sometimes intimidating task.
A financial planner can help you develop a strategy that makes financial decisions easier, sets long- and short-term goals, and ensures you are on track to achieve those goals.
But, just about anyone can use the title “financial planner,” which means you should take a thorough look at a person’s experience and background before trusting him or her with your finances. Choosing a financial planner who is certified is one way to ensure you are working with a qualified individual.
The Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification is widely viewed as the most distinguished credential in financial planning because CFP professionals meet rigorous standards and complete extensive education and experience requirements. They are trained to provide you with a “big picture” view of financial solutions and develop a plan that is tailored to your specific goals and interests.
Before earning CFP certification, a financial planner must:
• Complete a financial planning program and hold a bachelor’s degree (or higher) from an accredited college or university. The program must have been approved by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board). Planning professionals may alternatively meet the education requirement through a review process, which looks at transcripts, previous course work and other professional designations.
• Pass the comprehensive CFP Certification Exam, which tests ability to apply financial planning knowledge to real-life situations. It covers the financial planning process, tax planning, employee benefits and retirement planning, estate planning, investment management and insurance. Only about 60 percent of planners pass this difficult exam.
• Complete at least two to three years of professional financial planning experience.
• Commit to CFP Board’s “Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct,” which outlines CFP professionals’ obligations to uphold principles of integrity, objectivity, competence, fairness, confidentiality, professionalism and diligence. Importantly, these standards require CFP professionals to provide financial advice that is in your best interests.
To find a CFP, visit letsmakeaplan.org.
Financial planning is a dynamic process. Your financial goals may evolve over the years due to shifts in your lifestyle or circumstances such as an inheritance, career change, marriage, house purchase or growing family. Partnering with a CFP professional to manage your financial future will provide you with confidence today and a more secure tomorrow.
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