The Financial Planning Association of Australia The Financial Planning Association of Australia

Is the CFP® designation still relevant?

By Dante De Gori CFP®, CEO, Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA)

If you’re on the fence about whether to pursue your CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® designation, given all the changes underway, I’d like a few moments of your time.

Quite simply, everyday Australians need a simple way of recognising who they can trust.

Possibly now more than ever, the value of the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® or CFP® designation cannot be understated. Consumer trust is bruised. The CFP® mark is a clearly recognisable way to differentiate yourself as holding the highest possible standards of education and ethics globally today.

On that basis alone – that it’s in consumers’ best interests during this difficult time of change and uncertainty – the CFP designation stands you apart. Therefore I’d urge you to prioritise enrolling in the program by the 4 July deadline to continue on the path to becoming a CFP® professional.

CFP® certification means more than just education. It revolves around meeting the four E’s of professionalism and requires a CFP® professional to re-certify their credentials annually in order to keep their certification.

The four E’s of professionalism include Education, Ethics, Experience and Examination. Crucially each of the four E’s are required to be maintained through Continuing Professional Development and being subject to the international Code of Ethics and Standards, which are set by the Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB) Limited. You not only need to qualify to obtain CFP® certification but you need to maintain it – a key difference between holding a professional designation versus meeting your minimum legal training standards.

Perhaps you need more tangible motivation? We know from our research:

  • More and more Australians actively seek a CFP® professional – it is the number one choice for consumers when seeking a financial planner.
  • Over the past year, 13 million Australians have seen our CFP® advertising, promoting the benefits of seeing a CFP® professional.
  • People who work with a CFP® professional report feeling more confident in achieving their financial goals.
  • Employers and recruiters recognise the CFP® designation as the most desired in financial planning.
  • CFP® professionals earn 27 per cent per annum more on average than other financial planners.
  • CFP® certification is the only global standard in financial planning recognised in 26 countries with over 181,000 CFP® professionals.

So what about the future of the CFP® Certification Program?

Right now, the introduction of compulsory exams for financial planners from January 2021, and a minimum education standard of a degree by 2024, means even our most qualified FPA members need to do extra study to meet the Government’s new education requirements.

CFP® professionals are not unaffected, by any stretch, but certainly have an advantage.  The CFP® Certification Program was the first professional designation accredited for recognition of prior learning (RPL) towards the new degree standard.

It makes sense as a bachelor’s degree, or its equivalent, has been a requirement for the CFP® designation for over ten years now.

In addition, the CFP® Certification Program will provide you with recognition of up to four credits at some universities offering Master of Financial Planning programs.

Globally the CFP® professional community continues to thrive as demand for the certification is rising. There are currently 181,000 CFP® professionals worldwide and 5,724 CFP® professionals in Australia, with 274 admitted this year. There have been 1,898 enrolments – 68% male, 32% female – with the youngest student aged 22 years, and the oldest 62 years.

The significant reform ahead of us will create a profession-wide commitment to higher standards. In the years ahead, those financial planners with the CFP® designation will continue to be recognised worldwide for adhering to world-class professional and ethical standards.

Right now, today, Australians deserve access to trusted and transparent advice, and need to know who they can trust during this time of change. The CFP® mark is a simple, internationally recognisable symbol for the higher standards consumers deserve.

The CFP® designation has never been more relevant and will continue to set you apart in standing with Australians for a better financial future.