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What Is the Curriculum of a CFP Certification Program?

CFP certification programs are offered by universities for financial planning professionals who wish to earn their certification as a Certified Financial Planner. Please read on to learn more about the certification process and what topics are covered in these programs.

CFP Certification Program Overview

Numerous colleges and universities offer a CFP (Certified Financial Planner) curriculum approved by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. In addition to completing the academic program, a CFP candidate must also hold a bachelor's degree, have three years of financial planning experience and pass the CFP certification exam. The exam covers several areas, including risk management, retirement planning, debt management and investment planning. Successful earning of a CFP certification can help increase a financial advisor's reputation.

CFP certification programs are typically offered through business schools or as professional development. Programs are generally flexible to accommodate working professionals, such as offering courses online or in the evenings. These courses may be included in a certificate program, or they may be offered in a stand-alone program. Programs generally take 9 to 14 months to complete. The following seven courses may be found in a typical CFP certification program.

Important Facts About CFP Education

CostMost programs between $3,200 and $6,100; discounts may be available for alumni or early applicants
Class FrequencyVaries by program, usually one or two times a week; self-paced online options available
Certification RenewalApplication and 30 hours of continuing education every two years; $355 fee every year
Possible ApplicantsAttorneys, stockbrokers, financial planners, investment advisors, bankers
Median Salary (2018) $88,890 (for all personal financial advisors
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 15% growth  (for all personal financial advisors

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

General Principles of Financial Planning

This introductory course on the financial planning process provides an overview of the knowledge and skills needed to become a successful CFP. Topics include preparing a financial plan, regulations, running a financial planning business and understanding CFP ethical standards.

Insurance Planning and Risk Management

CFPs must have a thorough knowledge of all kinds of insurance, including property, casualty, medical, long-term care, life, disability, group, liability and business. This course covers insurance plans, rates and contracts and how various plans fit into a client's financial strategy.

Investment Planning

CFPs help clients decide on a variety of complex investment products and strategies. An investment planning course covers analyzing investors' financial goals, developing and managing an appropriate portfolio, risk and return, valuation and investment theory and practice.

Tax Planning

This course teaches students to evaluate the impact of tax-related decisions for individuals and businesses. Topics include understanding taxation principles, predicting potential income tax issues and identifying tax-advantageous investments.

Employee Benefits Planning

A CFP helps employees integrate their company benefits into an all-inclusive financial plan. Coursework covers deferred compensation, investment-oriented benefits, stock options, company retirement plans and group life, health, and disability insurance.

Retirement Planning

This course covers public retirement plans, such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, as well as private plans. Students explore legal issues and analyze various plans. Other topics include tax implications, cash flow and contribution limits.

Estate Planning

A course in estate planning covers the tax implications of state inheritance laws and transfer of wealth. Topics include gifts, advanced directives, asset liquidity, asset valuation, wills, probate and trusts. Students also examine asset transfer to various beneficiaries, such as heirs, trust funds and charities.