What Does a CFP® Professional Do?

By: Kaplan Financial Education
April 1, 2019
Clients talking to their CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER

A CFP® professional works with clients to create holistic long-term plans in order to help them meet their financial goals. CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER jobs are expected to grow 30% over the next 10 years, according to CNN Money, making it an excellent career option for young financial professionals. But what does a CFP® professional do exactly? Read on to find out.

Where do CFP® professionals work?

Many young CFP® professionals start out working at large financial firms or insurance companies to gain experience and mentoring from more seasoned professionals. Working for a firm makes you more likely to work on a commission-only basis, meaning you will get paid a cut of the financial products your clients buy.

Other CFP® professionals choose to go out on their own and start their own practice. While this is a flexible option with endless potential for growth, it does come with more risk and pressure to build a book of business. Many CFP® professionals with their own practice are fee-only, meaning they charge an hourly rate for providing financial guidance rather than taking a commission.

There are many types of jobs for CFP® professionals. Regardless of which path you choose, you will likely be helping people develop and reach their long-term financial goals.

Get a sneak peak at the beginning of the Kaplan education program to get a feel for whether CFP® certification is the right fit for you by downloading our free eBook. 

How does a CFP® professional help clients?

Financial planning is not a set-it-and-forget-it situation. Client financial goals shift over time when life circumstances change. Therefore, CFP® professionals meet with their clients periodically to ensure no changes need to be made to their plans.

CFP® professionals work with clients on a wide variety of financial goals. When clients are just starting out, often they will have financial needs related to managing student loan debt, figuring out how to merge finances with a loved one, or saving for a large purchase like a house, car, or boat. As clients start settling down in their lives, CFP® professionals can help them financially plan for a growing family, education funds, and life insurance and retirement decisions.

Once clients get to midlife, they may need financial help with tax strategies for higher incomes, estate planning, caring for aging parents, and long-term care options. When clients near retirement age, CFP® professionals can also help with retirement management, as well as preparing a client’s children for planning and managing their inheritance.

What’s the difference between a CFP® Professional and a Financial Planner?

The difference between a financial planner and a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ is the certification process required to become a CFP® professional. A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER must meet CFP Board’s qualifications in order to use the marks after his or her name. CFP Board requires an individual to complete a CFP Board-registered education program and pass the CFP® exam, which is given three times each year. In addition, a CFP® professional must have professional experience (6,000 hours) in relevant personal financial planning activities, or apprenticeship experience (4,000 hours) that meets additional requirements. This experience must be completed within ten years preceding the exam or five years after.

CFP Board also requires candidates to pass a background check and adhere to their ethics standards. This also means CFP® professionals must take an ethics course every two years as part of their CE requirements.

Becoming a CFP® professional is a difficult journey, but it can also be very rewarding once accomplished. Recognized as the highest standard in personal financial planning, earning the CFP® mark gives finance professionals tremendous opportunities in their career.


If you think becoming a CFP® professional is for you, the first step is to enroll in a CFP Board-registered education program. If you are interested in what a CFP® certification education course is like, check out our eBook preview of the first Kaplan CFP® certification education course.


If you’re ready to enroll, get started with Kaplan’s CFP® certification education program now. Choose from our live classroom and self-study options today!

Free eBook: Is CFP® Certification Right for You?

Are you considering CFP® certification, but are unsure if you can handle it? Get a sneak peak at the beginning of the College for Financial Planning®a Kaplan Company education program to get a feel for whether CFP® certification is the right fit for you. This free eBook will provide you with information about the financial planning process learned in FP 511: General Financial Planning Principles, Professional Conduct, and Regulation. It also includes several analytical problems that will allow you to apply your knowledge to real-life scenarios.