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Who is a Certified Financial Planner and How to be one?

 

A Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is a professional who helps you make financially prudent decisions. They have professional qualifications and attestations that certify their credibility as someone who can manage your finances, wealth and assets well.  If you are a finance enthusiast who is keen to explore further career options in finance, the CFP pathway is respected and sought after choice that you can explore!

Finances are an all-important determinant on how you live your life today. Good finances and financial planning are the keys to unlocking a financially secure future. Managing finances are necessary to be able to fulfil personal goals as well as family responsibilities, however, this is not always possible to do for every individual. They might not have the time or the right qualifications to effectively work on this role. This is where a Certified Financial Planner comes in.

A CFP or Certified Financial Planner qualification is one of the most coveted and desired professions for people who are committed to a lifetime of competent and ethical financial planning practice. Certified Financial Planner professionals meet basic and ongoing educational, experience and professional progress requirements, pass a comprehensive exam that assesses their competency, and adhere to a code of ethics, pledging to provide financial planning in the best interests of clients and with high consideration given to ethical and professional standards.

The four parameters of excellence you have to pass to get a Certified Financial Planner qualification are:

  • Your education
  • Your examination
  • Your Experience
  • Your Ethics

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In India, the Certified Financial Planning qualification is a global recognized certification provided by the Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB). This move was undertaken to facilitate a structured learning program for financial advisers and aspirants for Certified Financial Planning in the country. In India, as of April 2019, the CFP Certification is directly administered by the USA Financial Planning Standards Board.

What is the value of the Certified Financial Planner?

A CFP or Certified Financial Planner benefits three broad domains:

Consumers– The CFP works with individuals and families for financial planning and easy solutions through various stages of life. For example- They help a family to formulate a written plan for their finances for the next 5 years. With this written blueprint for savings, investments etc. the family feels more comfortable and secure with their finances. In fact, with a CFP helping them, families have been reported to feel more trustful and confident. As a Certified Financial Planner, you will have the scope to manage the finances of multiple families and help them achieve their personal finance goals, which is a fulfilling profession!

Practitioners– Practitioners with the  Certified Financial Planner qualification have reported increases in their salaries, fast promotions, growth in client-base and increased satisfaction while working on a project and more in-depth knowledge of their industry. If you work in the finance industry, obtaining the CFP qualification will enhance your career credentials and give you greater leverage to climb the rungs of success!

Firms– Firms who have employed qualified Certified Financial Planners have found that it has numerous benefits! Starting with fewer client complaints to higher client retention rates, a number of firms have reported that employing CFP professionals has a positive impact on client satisfaction within the firm. Quite a few financial services or asset management firms have expressed interests in recruiting a higher number of CFP qualified professionals, given the increased benefits they provide to the company! If you work for a firm, gaining the Certified Financial Planner qualification will make you an asset to the company and increase your chances of building a great career for yourself!

What do you need to become a CFP?

As a Certified Financial Planner, you will have to develop personalised financial plans for your clients. Most CFPs also have varied specialisations. So, before choosing to invest time and energy into this qualification, you should think about whether you have the necessary background and skill-set to excel in this career. For enhancing and developing your financial acumen, you can post your doubts questions on websites like Chegg India where a designated subject matter expert will help you in addressing them. After becoming a CFP, you can sign up on Chegg as a Finance Subject Matter Expert to help other students with their queries and also earn a good amount of cash working part-time.

Moreover, for becoming a successful Certified Financial Planner you must inculcate certain soft-skills along with your technical skills. You must be efficient in finding new clients and businesses and retaining them. A loyal client base is a crucial requirement for building a strong and fruitful career as a CFP. To maintain a client base and keep expanding it, you should provide beneficial services to your existing clients so that you get client referrals- which are an important source of new business as a Certified Financial Planner. Along with that, your sales, professional networks and analytical abilities should also be strong so as to adeptly solve problems, optimise solutions and offer the best experience to your clients!

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Steps to become a Certified Financial Planner in India

There are two pathways to becoming a Certified Financial Planner in India: Challenge and Regular

The eligibility criteria for the two pathways are different. A Regular candidate must be a 10th or 12th pass at the time of application, while a Challenge candidate must be a CA / Intermediate level, CFA (US), CAIIB, CS, LLB, PhD, M.Phil, PG, ICWA, Licentiate/Associate/ Fellowship of Life Insurance, Actuary(India), FFSI & FLMI from LOMA, Civil Service Examinations by UPSC.

To fulfil the education requirements for a Certified Financial Planning qualification, you will have to opt for one of the four tracks given below:

  1. Investment Planning
  2. Retirement and Tax Planning
  3. Risk and Estate Planning
  4. Financial Planning

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The FPSB Investment Planning Specialist Certification is currently offered by the FPSB. The other three courses will be rolled out soon.

For completing the education qualifications for Certified Financial Planning, you can choose any of the three available routes:

Self-Paced Education Route– If you are comfortable studying at your own pace and prefer learning on your own, then the self-paced study option is the right one for you. You can register on the FPSB portal to access your education materials for becoming a Certified Financial Planner. This will include textbook content, PowerPoint presentations, quizzes and practice tests. You can use this material to prepare for the certification by yourself. It is a great choice for independent self-study.

Instructor-Led Education Route- If you prefer being taught by an instructor for a more routine and regulated learning experience, the Instructor-Led Education Route is a good option for you. Once you register with the FPSB and get access to your educational materials, you will be allotted an instructor who can either provide online or offline classes and help you complete the coursework. The average duration of the course would be 8-12 weeks, depending upon the course material, frequency of classes etc. This is an excellent opportunity provided by the FPSB for those who learn better under the guidance of an instructor to study for the Certified Financial Planning Exam.

Recognition of Prior-Learning Route– If you have professional experience or qualifications/certifications that can exempt you from the CFP specialized education course requirements, then you can check if you are eligible for the Recognition of Prior-Learning Route. If the board approves your application, you may be granted an exemption for some or all of the Certified Financial Planning Exams.

After the basic education courses, you will have a total of 4 specialist certifications from the FPSB, India:

  • FPSB® Investment Planning Specialist
  • FPSB® Retirement and Tax Planning Specialist
  • FPSB® Risk and Estate Planning Specialist
  • FPSB® Financial Planning Capstone

 

Currently, the registrations for the Investment  Planning Specialist Exam will open in August 2020. The dates will be announced shortly.

The exams are not difficult to clear if you are willing to put in the required number of hours and the profession is truly rewarding after you attain your certification. Once you obtain your educational qualifications, you need to meet the FPSB’s ethics and experience requirements and pass the CFP exam. You will also have to pay an annual certification fee. Once you pass the Certified Financial Planning exam and meet all the requirements set by the Financial Planning Standards Board in India, you will receive your certification. The certification recognizes you as a Certified Financial Planner and you can use it to start your career in the financial planning domain and reach your professional milestones.

Certified Financial Planner is an excellent career option for finance job aspirants in India. Having a CFP increases your chances of getting hired at wealth and asset management firms, banks and even run your own financial planning firm! The average salary of a CFP is around 3.5 Lakhs per annum, with increments and bonuses based on exceptional performance, client expansion and other perks. If you are passionate about finance and would like to help families and organizations plan their finances well, this is a bright career choice for you. Being a CFP, you will analyze financial reports to estimate current or net worth, work in insurance or retirement planning, help in employee benefits programs, participate in income-tax planning, estate and asset management and many other interesting, challenging and practical applications of your financial knowledge. If you have good people skills, can network well, and can put in structured effort towards your qualification, studying for the Certified Financial Planner exam is an excellent, responsible, rewarding and prudent career choice!

You can become a Chegg Subject Matter Expert for Finance or Accountancy- earn and learn at the same time.

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