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Financial Planner Courses and Certification

The field of financial planning offers several in-demand career options for individuals that want to work as financial planners for companies and individuals. They typically work for insurance companies, corporations, banks and brokerage firms to provide advice and counseling services. In order to provide planning services, the individual must pass the Certified Financial Planner examination given by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. and maintain their certification by taking continuing education courses throughout their career.

What is a Financial Planning Certificate?

The Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification is granted by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards to ensure that the financial planner abides by a set of rules and upholds ethical standards when offering information and advice. The exam must be completed after an individual has completed a board-registered certificate program, and this program is currently available at over 300 community colleges and schools around the United States. The exam is a multiple-choice test that takes ten hours. Individuals sitting for this exam must successfully complete all four testing sessions.

If a student has completed Certified Public Accounting credentials, they can apply to have the certificate requirements for CFP certification waived.

Certified Financial Planner Training Programs

Certified financial planner training programs prepare students to take the ten-hour certification exam. The test preparation courses cover several specialized topics including:

  • General Principles of Financial Planning
  • Income Tax Planning
  • Employee Benefits Planning
  • Retirement Planning
  • Insurance Planning and Risk Management
  • Estate Planning

Students enrolled in a training program learn the basic skills and knowledge to become a Certified Financial Planner, and also learn how to provide advice about tax-related decisions for companies and individuals, study public retirement plans, learn about asset liquidity and valuation, analyze investors' financial goals and develop portfolios for individuals or companies.

With today's technologies and education options available online, students may wish to complete their training program online. Many schools now offer CFP education programs in an online format so that students can build their credentials while working or completing a related degree program. Online programs must be registered by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. The online format provides student with more flexibility in their schedules, and they may be involved with completing and submitting assignments and projects online, interacting with an instructor via e-mail or discussion boards, and reviewing course materials and lessons over the web.

Students who complete their financial planner course and related courses can then sit for the CFP examination.

Types of Financial Planning Careers

Financial planners are trained to offer professional advice about handling investments, allocating assets, investing in insurance and also to provide advice about legal restrictions and laws about retirement plans. Some also help individuals understand complicated legal documents and financial documents related to their business or their personal budgets.

They may work for:

  • Individuals
  • Government agencies
  • Corporations
  • Investment banks
  • Brokerage firms
  • Colleges and universities

Individuals interested in exploring these career opportunities can complete a business, finance or accounting degree program from an accredited college or university, and then attend a financial planning school to complete training requirements for certification.

Completing a Financial Planning Education

Education programs provide students with the advanced skills and knowledge they need to obtain their financial planning certificate. CFP education programs cover a wide range of subjects as well as specialized courses in the field of budgeting, financial management, and investing amongst others. Students must complete a bachelor's degree in the field of finance or accounting before they are eligible for certification.

Some of the specialized courses required for the certificate include:

  • Retirement planning
  • Wealth management
  • Investment strategies
  • Asset allocation
  • Insurance products
  • Funding education
  • Equity compensation
  • Estate planning
  • Tax implications

After achieving CFP certification, the individual must take continuing education credits from a financial advisor education program or a university in their area. CFP certification must be completed every two years. If the individual wants to become a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), they must have at least three years of full-time business experience in the field and take the ChFC exam which covers topics such as executive compensation laws and planning, the U.S. economy and financial system, and applied financial planning.

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