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Wealth Management Career Articles 

Showing 10 of 25 Wealth Management Articles

How to Pass the CFP® Exam

How to pass the CFP® exam is a big concern for candidates who are planning to earn the CFP® mark. The exam is definitely a challenge and is different from many other financial exams. In 2019, the overall pass rate was 62 percent, and the pass rate for first-timers was 66 percent. In this article, you’ll learn about the exam and the steps you can take to pass. At the end, you’ll find additional tips you can apply throughout your preparation and on exam day.

About the CFP® Exam

The CFP® exam is a multiple-choice, computer-based exam. It is offered three times a year in March, July, and November at almost 50 locations nationwide, and it costs between $725–$925 USD (depending on when you register). The exam is given in a computer-based format and consists of 170 multiple-choice questions that test your financial planning knowledge in client situations. You are given the exam in two 3-hour sessions with a 40-minute scheduled break.

Follow these 5 steps to pass the CFP® exam.

1. Start studying early.

Getting CFP® exam-ready requires a major time commitment. CFP Board recommends you spend at least 250 hours studying for the exam. While that sounds overwhelming, the time goes pretty quickly between pre-study, the Candidate Handbook, required education courses, question bank time, review, practice exams, and your own preparations.

It’s important to think of preparing for the CFP® exam like training for a marathon. It’s not a situation where you can sprint (or cram). There’s just too much to learn, and you’ll need to be able to apply it to case studies. To be properly prepared for the exam, you need to have the space in your life to dedicate the necessary hours to study.

Preparing for the CFP® exam? Download this free eBook to learn how to create a CFP® exam study plan that works for you.

2. Create a strategic and efficient study plan.

Given the hours and the amount of material to master, you should create a strategic study plan. Spending too much or too little time on any one activity can be detrimental to your preparation. Therefore, devising a study plan based on how CFP Board weights the exam topics is a good plan of action. The topics and their weights are:

  • Professional conduct and regulation—7%
  • General principles of financial planning—17%
  • Education planning—6%
  • Risk management and insurance planning—12%
  • Investment planning—17% Tax planning—12%
  • Retirement savings and income planning—17%
  • Estate planning—12%

You should learn the basics of each category first and then work deeper into the categories based on weight and your familiarity. This will enable you to absorb more detail and application.

3. Focus on learning how to apply what you know.

The CFP® exam is all about applying knowledge to real situations you could encounter on the job. There are two important case studies worth 20 percent of the exam. You must analyze a hypothetical client situation and determine the best next steps. Memorization alone won’t cut it in this section. Mastery of the material is important. But to do well, you must apply your knowledge to the given client information.

4. Practice, practice, practice.

Because the CFP® exam tests how you apply what you’ve learned in readings and classes, it is vital that you practice what you learn. You should answer the questions at the end of the chapters you read and take question bank quizzes and practice exams. The more you practice, the more familiar you will become with how to apply your knowledge. Exam prep providers and CFP Board offer practice exams you can take before your exam day.

5. Stay calm as exam day approaches.

Try to be at your mental peak for the exam. Use the day before the exam to reread some of the more wordy areas of the curriculum, like Ethics. Studying too hard or taking full practice exams the day before can mentally drain you. Few people sleep well the night before the exam, so make sure you get into a good sleep pattern leading up to it. A week of 7–8 hours of sleep each night, along with some exercise and relaxation, will help you get through exam day in good form.

Additional Tips on How to Pass the CFP® Exam

Here are a few tips and tricks that can also help you pass the exam:

  • Focus on learning, not memorizing. The CFP® exam is all about how you handle real situations you could encounter on the job.
  • Work with practice questions that have the same difficulty level as the actual exam. This can help you determine if you have truly mastered a particular domain and where you might be making mistakes.
  • Don’t feverishly go over lists or answer tons of practice questions on the day before the exam. Instead, think about answering financial planning questions clients might ask. Then, stop about dinner time, just as if you were already in the office, relax, and have a good meal.
  • Picture yourself doing well on the exam. Before a big exam like this, it’s natural to panic and worry about failing. Instead, visualize yourself answering questions competently and getting a great score. Positive affirmation can calm your nerves and put you in the right mindset.

Taking the CFP® Exam?

Increase your chances of passing. Choose a CFP® exam prep package that suits your study needs today.

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Posted by Kaplan Financial Education - February 27, 2020
How to pass the CFP exam - students practicing

What Is the Accredited Wealth Management AdvisorSM (AWMA® ) Designation?

Accredited Wealth Management AdvisorSM (AWMA®) is a designation for experienced advisors who want to address the unique needs of high-net-worth clients. It is offered by the College for Financial Planning®—a Kaplan company (CFFP). This article explains what the designation is, why it’s valuable, how it can help you in your career, and how to get it.

What Is the AWMA® Designation?

The AWMA® designation program for financial professionals provides them with what they need to help clients capitalize on opportunities to preserve, grow, and transfer their wealth. The program contains sections dedicated to behavioral finance, working with small business owners, and succession and exit planning. There is also an entire module specifically dedicated to the fiduciary and regulatory issues that advisors will encounter. The program was started in 2005 and is offered exclusively online by CFFP. The certification is also listed by FINRA, which is a private, self-regulatory organization that regulates certain aspects of the securities industry.

Why the AWMA® Program Is Valuable

With all of the complex financial planning information available today, the AWMA® program prepares you to provide knowledgeable advice on the best assets and strategies for your clients. As an AWMA® student, you receive graduate-level education that focuses on wealth management. Study materials are written and updated regularly by full-time CFFP faculty who specialize in investments, insurance, taxation, retirement planning, and estate planning. They also work closely with investment professionals to provide the most current information available.

When asked about the value of the program, one certified AWMA® professional said: “Because of my AWMA® designation, I am now working with higher-net-worth clients, which allows me to work with fewer individuals while substantially increasing my income. Because my clients feel that I offer more individual attention and a top-notch level of service, I’ve received an increase in quality referrals."

Earning the AWMA® mark has other benefits as well. You receive credit for course FP513, Investment Planning, in the CFFP CFP® certification education program. You also receive credit for an elective in the CFFP MS Degree in Personal Financial Planning. This allows you to save both time and money while pursuing multiple credentials.

How the AWMA® Designation Can Help Your Career

The AWMA® designation is recognized as the industry benchmark for wealth management credentials and is endorsed by leading financial firms. It is an indication that you can effectively identify, analyze, and recommend strategies that are appropriate for the diverse needs of your high-net-worth clients. In addition, financial advisors with the AWMA® report an average earnings increase of 16 percent, as well as client-base growth and greater job satisfaction.

From the point of view of your high-net-worth clients, the AWMA® mark indicates that you have the knowledge and education to guide them to the right investments for their wealth management goals.

How to Earn the AWMA®

To earn the AWMA® designation, follow these steps:

  1. Complete an eight-module education program provided by CFFP. There are no prerequisites for this program, and you have a year to complete it. The modules cover getting to know your high-net-worth client; considerations for business owners; income tax strategies for high-net-worth clients; executive benefits planning for high-net-worth clients; estate planning for high-net-worth clients; and fiduciary, regulatory, and ethical issues for financial services providers.
  2. Take and pass the AWMA® exam. You must take the test for the first time within six months of enrolling for the program, and you have a year to pass it. There are 80 questions on the exam, and the passing score is 70 percent. According to Analyst Forum, you should plan on studying for about 150 hours.
  3. Agree to abide by a code of ethics.

Is the AWMA® Designation Right for You?

The AWMA® offers you a chance to distinguish yourself in wealth management. It is right for you if you are:

  • An experienced advisor who wants financial planning credentials to advance your career
  • A producer who is transitioning from product sales into offering a broader range of services
  • An advisor with a broad financial knowledge who wants to specialize in the unique needs of high-net-worth clients
  • An advisor who wants to pursue the CFP® Certification or a Master of Science degree at a later date

Learn more about the AWMA® program and how to enroll here.

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Posted by Kaplan Financial Education - February 3, 2020
What is AWMA - conceptual image

What Is the Chartered Retirement Plans SpecialistSM (CRPS®) Designation?

The Chartered Retirement Plans SpecialistSM (CRPS®) designation enables financial advisors and other professionals to demonstrate their expertise in administering retirement plans for businesses and wholesale clients. It is offered exclusively by the College for Financial Planning®—a Kaplan Company (CFFP). This article explains the designation, how it differs from the CRPC® mark, and the curriculum to help you decide if it's a good fit for your career.

About the CRPS® Designation

As retirement plan options evolve and tax complexity increases, many companies seek professional plan administrators to design, install, and maintain their company retirement plans. Firms, non-profits, and government organizations of all sizes recognize the unique skills needed to implement and oversee these internal retirement plans. The CRPS® designation demonstrates that you have those skills.

The CRPS® program addresses topics such as the types and characteristics of retirement plans, IRAs, SEP, SIMPLE, 401(k), and defined benefit plans. It also includes coursework that covers non-profit and government plans, qualified and IRA distributions, plan design, installation, and administration, and fiduciary issues.

How Does the CRPS® Differ from the CRPC®?

Candidates in the CRPS® program focus on retirement planning for employees and management in for-profit companies and public sector organizations. By contrast, the CRPC® designation is the industry benchmark for individual retirement planning. The CRPC® program guides candidates through specialized tax and estate objectives and strategies for a retiree and presents the financial and emotional aspects of financial planning that are unique to the retirement process for individuals.

The CRPS® Curriculum

The CRPS® curriculum consists of these seven modules:

  • Introduction to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and the Fiduciary Standard Employer-Funded Defined Contribution Plans
  • Participant-Directed Retirement Plans
  • Retirement Plan Solutions for Small Business Owners
  • Retirement Plan Selection, Design, and Implementation
  • Administering ERISA-Compliant Plans Working with Participants

Although most students complete the CRPS® program in 90 days, they have one full year from their enrollment date to complete these modules, and there is a final exam. The final exam contains 80 questions, and the passing score is 70 percent. To ensure that students are making satisfactory progress in their studies, they must test at least once every six months until the successful completion of the program.

The Benefits of the CRPS® Designation

The CRPS® mark can set you apart from other advisors because it demonstrates you have the knowledge and expertise to recommend implementation techniques that can be executed into well-structured, company-appropriate retirement plans. Businesses, non-profits, and government organizations will recognize that you can effectively administer wholesale retirement plans for their employees and management.

Earning the designation is also a sound financial decision. Advisors can expect an average of a 20 percent pay increase after earning the designation. Plus, it can help with your future education plans. CRPS® designees receive credit for an elective in the CFFP MS Degree in Personal Financial program. This allows you to save both time and money while pursuing multiple credentials.

Considering the CRPS® Designation?

The CRPS® designation is well-suited for:

  • Experienced advisors who desire financial planning credentials to advance their careers
  • Finance professionals who would like to specialize in wholesale-based retirement plans rather than planning for individuals
  • Advisors who would like to get a designation to boost their retirement planning skills that also gives them a headstart on earning the CFP® certification or a Master of Science degree

To learn more about how to earn a retirement planning designation endorsed by the top financial firms, visit the CRPS® web page.

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Posted by Kaplan Financial Education - December 18, 2019
CRPS designation work

AAMS® vs. CFP® Mark: Which Designation Is Right for Me?

A special designation in financial planning can set you apart from the competition and boost your career. But should you earn the AAMS® or the CFP® mark? Both lead to rewarding, professional opportunities for those who want a career in personal finance and planning, but the topics they cover, their requirements, and their benefits are slightly different. In this article, we compare the AAMS® vs. CFP® mark to help you choose the credential that’s right for you.

AAMS® Designation Overview

The Accredited Asset Management SpecialistSM (AAMS®) program provides advisors with fundamental financial knowledge of asset management and investments. Offered exclusively online by the College for Financial Planning®—a Kaplan company (CFFP), the AAMS® credential and program are designed to help personal financial advisors who are just starting out in their careers. However, more experienced financial advisors can benefit from the credential, too, because it lets clients know they have a specialty in asset management.

Get more details in this AAMS® designation article.

Requirements for Earning the AAMS® Designation

To earn the AAMS® designation, follow these steps:

  1. Complete a 10-module education program provided by CFFP. There are no prerequisites for this program, which typically takes 9–11 weeks to complete. The modules cover the asset management process; risk, return, and investment performance; asset allocation and selection; investment strategies; taxation of investments; investing for retirement; deferred compensation and benefit plans; insurance products for investment clients; estate planning for investment clients; and fiduciary, regulatory, and ethical issues for advisors.
  2. Take and pass the AAMS® exam. You must take the test for the first time within six months of enrolling for the program, and you have a year to pass it. There are 80 questions on the exam, and the passing score is 70 percent. Plan on studying for about 80–100 hours.
  3. Agree to abide by a code of ethics.

AAMS® Benefits

The AAMS® designation is recognized as the industry benchmark for asset management credentials and is endorsed by leading financial firms. Compared to earning an MBA or other credentials, the AAMS® designation is a relatively low-cost ($1,300) way to advance your career and lets clients know you have deep knowledge in asset management and investments. Financial advisors with the AAMS® credential report an average earnings increase of 20 percent, as well as client-base growth and greater job satisfaction.

CFP® Certification Overview

The CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER (CFP®) mark enables finance professionals to help individual clients create comprehensive plans for meeting their long-term financial goals, such as retirement, college tuition, business start-up, a home, and so on. Its governing body, CFP Board, administers the credential. In 2017, CNN Money reported that jobs for CFP® professionals are expected to grow 30 percent over the next 10 years, making it an excellent career option for young financial professionals.

Requirements for Earning the CFP® Mark

The requirements for earning CFP® certification are:

  • Complete a CFP Board-registered education program. CFP Board must be notified when you’ve completed it.
  • Pass the CFP® exam. Offered three times a year in March, July, and November, the CFP® exam focuses on testing your financial planning knowledge in client situations. The topics covered include professional conduct and regulation, general financial planning principles, education planning, risk management and insurance planning, investment planning, tax planning, retirement savings and income planning, and estate planning. You should plan to spend 250 hours studying for the six-hour, 170-question, computer-based exam. This exam FAQ has more details.
  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college. You can hold the degree before you complete the education program and pass the exam or earn it afterward. (You have up to five years after passing to get your degree.)
  • Have financial planning experience. This can be 6,000 hours of full-time, relevant personal financial planning or 4,000 hours of apprenticeship.
  • Pass the CFP Board candidate fitness standards. To do this, you must agree to adhere to CFP Board’s ethical standards, disclose any criminal or employment termination history, and pass a background check.

For all the details about how to become a CFP® professional, check out this article.

CFP® Certification Benefits

Like the AAMS® designation, the benefits of earning the CFP® mark include a rewarding career that involves a relatively low investment ($7,000 for the course work plus exam fees) compared to the tuition for an MBA or other credentials. The most common careers include financial planner, wealth advisor, estate planning specialist, trading and research associate, financial consultant, financial representative, or financial analyst. If you want to become a branch manager at a financial firm, CFP® certification can help you achieve that level in your organization as well.

AAMS® vs. CFP® Mark: How to Choose

The AAMS® designation is respected as an achievement milestone. If you would like to quickly earn a credential to demonstrate your asset investment expertise to clients and employers, the AAMS® program takes less than three months to complete. If you are in training to become a personal financial planner, earning your AAMS® can put you on the path to an entry-level position.

The CFP® mark is highly respected in the industry, and it can open many doors for you in your career. Firms know that CFP® professionals are preferred by clients. In fact, a recent CFP Board study revealed that 69 percent of surveyed consumers said they would insist that their financial planners have the CFP® certification. As a result, many companies will offer financial assistance to employees interested in earning the CFP® mark.

As you ponder the benefits of each, ask yourself what your long-term goals are. If you would like to get a headstart in your financial planning career, earning the AAMS® designation is a good option. If your dream is to work in a large firm where you can apply personal financial planning knowledge and skills more broadly—and you have the time to invest in an intense program—the CFP® mark is an excellent choice.

Who Says You Have to Decide?

There is a third option: earning both the AAMS® and the CFP® mark. Many financial planners and advisors start with the AAMS® designation. Then, after gaining experience in the field, they enroll in the CFP® program and earn that credential. In fact, AAMS® designees receive credit for the completion of FP511 in the CFFP CFP® certification education program. This allows you to save both time and money.

Performing well in the AAMS® designation program and on the exam also increases your odds of passing the CFP® exam. A study by CFFP that was submitted to the 2019 Annual Meeting Academy of Financial Services shows that students who did well (either an A or B grade) in the AAMS® program had a good chance of doing well in the CFP® program. Testing out of two courses offered by CFFP and performing better in the CFP® program are two powerful arguments for earning your AAMS® before your CFP® mark.

Ready to Get Started?

Get your financial planning career on the right track. Learn more about our CFP® certification packages here, or explore the AAMS® program here.

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Posted by Kaplan Financial Education - November 18, 2019
AAMS vs CFP - Woman Trying to Decide

What Is the Accredited Asset Management Specialist (AAMS®) Designation?

Accredited Asset Management Specialist (AAMS®) is a professional designation designed for newcomers to the financial advice business that is awarded by the College for Financial Planning (CFFP)—a Kaplan company. Earning the designation also enables experienced advisors to learn more about asset management and improve their credentials. This article explains what the designation is, why it’s valuable, how it can help you in your career, and how to get it.

What Is AAMS®?

AAMS® is a designation program for financial professionals. The program provides advisors with fundamental financial knowledge of asset management and investments. It was started in 1994 and is offered exclusively online by CFFP. The designation is also listed by FINRA, which is a private, self-regulatory organization that regulates certain aspects of the securities industry.

Why the AAMS® Program Is Valuable

When asked about the value of the program, one AAMS® professional said: “This program gave me more knowledge to help structure my communication with my clients. The AAMS® program should be a requirement for anyone involved in asset allocation and money management."

The courses and tests associated with earning the AAMS teach advisors how to evaluate assets and make recommendations. Those who go through the program learn to identify new investment opportunities and also recognize insurance, tax, retirement, and estate issues.

The program is designed to help financial advisors who are just starting out in their careers. However, more experienced financial advisors can benefit from the credential, too, because it lets clients know they have a specialty in asset management. In addition, financial advisors with the AAMS® designation who plan to earn the CFP® designation receive credit for the completion of FP511 in the CFFP CFP® certification education program.

How the AAMS® Designation Can Help Your Career

The AAMS® designation is recognized as the industry benchmark for asset management credentials and is endorsed by leading financial firms. It enables you to serve individual, small business, or investment clients better. If you have an entry-level financial advice position or are a trainee, it can help you advance your financial career. In addition, financial advisors with the AAMS® report an average earnings increase of 20 percent, as well as client base growth and greater job satisfaction.

For clients, the AAMS® is a sign that you can identify investment opportunities specific to their needs. For example, it can reassure nervous clients who need to plan for college tuition or purchase a retirement home. Because you’ve been through the program and earned the AAMS® designation, you can guide those clients and others to the right investments for their goals.

How to Earn the AAMS®

To earn the AAMS® designation, follow these steps:

  1. Complete a 10-module education program provided by CFFP. There are no prerequisites for this program, which typically takes 9–11 weeks to complete. The modules cover the asset management process; risk, return, and investment performance; asset allocation and selection; investment strategies; taxation of investments; investing for retirement; deferred compensation and benefit plans; insurance products for investment clients; estate planning for investment clients; and fiduciary, regulatory, and ethical issues for advisors.
  2. Take and pass the AAMS® exam. You must take the test for the first time within six months of enrolling for the program, and you have a year to pass it. There are 80 questions on the exam, and the passing score is 70 percent. Plan on studying for about 80–100 hours.
  3. Agree to abide by a code of ethics.

Think the AAMS® Designation Is Right for You?

If you’re just starting out in your career, the AAMS® offers you a chance to build your credentials. If you’re experienced and want to earn your CFP® mark, the AAMS® program gives you a head start, plus you get a credential in the process. Learn more about the AAMS® program and how to enroll here.

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Posted by Kaplan Financial Education - October 14, 2019
Man with AAMS helping asset management clients

All about CFP Board: The Organization behind the CFP® Exam

CFP Board is the accepted short name for Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc., a non-profit organization that administers the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) designation. Along with granting the CFP® mark, the mission of CFP Board is to advance and ensure that the certification is the recognized standard of excellence for personal financial planning. In this article, you’ll learn about the history of CFP Board, its structure and activities, and its role in developing the CFP® exam.

CFP Board History

In 1969, 13 men met in Chicago to formalize personal financial planning as a profession. Before that time, personal financial planning required searching numerous areas of the financial services industry for ways to help individuals plan for their financial futures. At that meeting, they created the International Association for Financial Planners (IAFP) and the College for Financial Planning, which introduced an education program for what would later become CFP® certification.

Sixteen years later, in 1985, the College for Financial Planning agreed to the establishment of an independent, non-profit certifying and standards-setting organization. It transferred ownership of the CFP® mark and responsibility for continuing the CFP® certification program to the new organization, now known as CFP Board. In November 1991, 81 people received the CFP® mark after passing the very first CFP® exam, which tested their ability to integrate and apply the knowledge gained from the financial planning curriculum.

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

CFP Board Today

Today, CFP Board is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and its CEO is Kevin Keller, CAE. Among its responsibilities is maintaining current, and developing new, financial planning standards as the industry changes. It accepts volunteers for its various councils and research projects, and it counts all CFP® professionals in good standing (those who have earned the certification and keep it active through continuing education) as its members. As of August 31, 2019, there are 85,434 CFP® certificants, and they are located all over the U.S.

CFP Board has a board of directors, which oversees CFP Board and sets policy. The current chair is Susan John, CFP®, of Financial Focus, Inc., Wolfeboro, NH. CFP Board has a number of research initiatives on topics such as racial and ethnic diversity, women in financial planning, and consumer surveys. It has councils for business models, public policy, and education, and a standards commission. It also operates CFP Board Center for Financial Planning, which is dedicated to making sure every American has access to financial planning advice that is competent and ethical through greater diversity and sustainability.

CFP Board Education and Ethics

CFP Board sets the standards for the financial planning education required to earn the CFP® certification. In other words, before you can become a CFP® professional, you must complete a comprehensive course of study at a college or university that offers a financial planning curriculum approved by CFP Board. After CFP Board is notified that you’ve successfully finished that education, you can take the exam. Once you pass the CFP® exam, gain the requisite years of experience, and earn the certification, it’s good for two years. After that, you must renew it every two years by taking continuing education courses approved by CFP Board.

CFP Board is also the keeper of “The Rules of Conduct.” These rules require that CFP® professionals put client interests ahead of their own at all times and that their financial planning services are “fiduciary,” which means they are acting in the best interest of their clients. CFP Board can, if it chooses, sanction CFP® professionals who violate these standards.

CFP Board and the CFP® Exam

CFP Board develops the CFP® Certification Exam, which tests how well candidates can apply financial planning knowledge to real-life situations. Volunteer CFP® professionals guide all aspects of the exam, which include setting the criteria for scoring and passing. Some of these volunteers are subject matter experts (SMEs) who determine what the content will cover, write the questions, and review them. Others are volunteers on the CFP Board Council of Examinations (COE), which reviews and approves the questions. Testing experts assure the exam is current, reliable, valid, and legal.

Before you take the exam, you must meet the education requirement by completing the CFP® curriculum at a CFP Board-approved educational institution. The topics covered on the CFP® exam include general financial planning principles, investment planning, retirement savings and income planning, risk management and insurance planning, tax planning, estate planning, professional conduct and regulation, and education planning. It consists of 170 multiple-choice questions, and candidates take it over the course of six hours with a 40-minute break after the first 3 hours. It’s offered in eight-day windows, three times a year. (This CFP® Exam FAQ has more details.)

Ready to be Recognized by CFP Board as a CFP® Professional?

If you’re interested in taking the exam, we have CFP® exam study packages. Or, if you’re just starting out and need to complete the required education, explore our CFP Board-registered education program.

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Posted by Kaplan Financial Education - September 24, 2019
Men learning about CFP Board standards

CRPC® Designation: Demonstrate the Retirement Planning Expertise Clients Demand

The CRPC® designation is the end result of a comprehensive program that helps financial advisors master the entire retirement planning process, going far beyond retirement income. With financial decisions that will determine their security and lifestyle for the balance of their lives, people born in the early 1960s are demanding a high level of knowledge from their advisors. This program is designed to help retirement planning counselors to meet these demands. This article provides an overview of the program.

Why the CRPC® Designation?

The youngest of the “baby boomer” generation, people born in 1964, are now solidly into their mid-50s, so retirement is weighing heavily on their minds. In fact, in a recent national survey of financial advisors, the College for Financial Planning®—a Kaplan Company found that more than three-quarters of their clients are “concerned” or “very concerned” about their retirement savings programs, and well over half worry about actually outliving their assets.

So, it’s not at all surprising that financial advisors are facing an increasingly complex onslaught of retirement planning questions as these baby boomers look for advice on when they’ll be able to retire, as well as guidance in finding investments to meet their lifestyle needs in 10 years, 20 years, or beyond.

Recognizing these challenges, the College for Financial Planning®—a Kaplan Company has created the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor™ (CRPC®) education and designation program.

What is the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC®) Designation?

The CRPC® helps financial advisors by guiding them through specialized tax and estate objectives and strategies for a retiree and presents the unique financial and emotional aspects of financial planning that are unique to the retirement process. In short, the program helps advisors define a “road map to retirement,” enabling them to focus on the pre- and post-retirement needs of their clients.

The CRPC® designation is the industry benchmark for retirement planning credentials and is encouraged by the top firms in the industry. Graduates report a 9 percent increase in earnings in addition to increases in their number of clients and even their job satisfaction.

About the CRPC® Designation Course

The CRPC® Professional Education Program is a three-semester credit graduate-level course. The nine modules in the course are:

  • Maximizing the Client Experience During the Retirement Planning Process
  • Principles and Strategies When Investing for Retirement
  • Making the Most of Social Security Retirement Benefits
  • Bridging the Income Gap: Identifying Other Sources of Retirement Income
  • Navigating Health Care Options in Retirement
  • Making the Emotional and Financial Transition to Retirement
  • Designing Optimal Retirement Income Streams
  • Achieving Tax and Estate Planning Objectives in Retirement
  • Fiduciary, Ethical, and Regulatory Issues for Advisers

The typical student should expect to spend approximately 90–135 hours on course-related activities to study and prepare adequately for the course examination. The CRPC® course also does double-duty for professionals who are considering a master’s degree: designees receive direct credit for one course in the CFFP MS in Personal Financial Planning program, saving them time and money while enabling them to pursue multiple credentials.

Learn More

Many leading financial advisory firms endorse the CRPC® designation and will reimburse advisors for course-related expenses. For more information, visit the College’s website.

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Posted by Kaplan Financial Education - September 5, 2019
Woman with CRPC Designation helping clients

What is the CSRIC™ Designation?

Demand for so-called “responsible” investment options has never been higher. In fact, at the end of 2017, more than one out of every four dollars that were being professionally managed in the United States—$12.0 trillion or more—was invested according to sustainable, responsible, impact (SRI) strategies. Industry experts also confirm that a majority of investors want their investments to incorporate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria.

For financial advisors, this demand presents several challenges. First, how can they acquire the insight and expertise to competently guide their clients towards ESG investments that fit their priorities? Second, how can they provide those clients with tangible evidence that they have genuine SRI expertise? Recognizing these challenges, the College for Financial Planning®—a Kaplan Company has created the Chartered SRI Counselor™ (CSRIC™) education and designation program. This article provides an overview of the program.

Introducing the CSRIC™

Developed in partnership with US SIF, The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, CSRIC is a unique program that blends SRI foundational knowledge and scenario learning. The first and only major financial credential dedicated specifically to SRI, the CSRIC is supported by top financial firms. It is designed for advanced financial advisors who wish to obtain foundational knowledge and best practices for advising clients on SRI, including:

  • Experienced advisors who desire financial planning credentials to advance their career
  • Advisors who wish to specialize in SRI investing for new or existing clients
  • Advisors who wish to pursue a Master of Science degree at a later date

Students enrolled in the program will learn the history, definitions, trends, portfolio construction principles, fiduciary responsibilities, and best practices of SRI investments.

About the CSRIC™ Course

The CSRIC™ Professional Education Program is a three-semester credit graduate-level course. The seven modules in the course are:

  • The Foundations and History of SRI
  • Approaches to SRI Shareholder Advocacy, Community Investing, and Corporate Responsibility
  • Portfolio Construction and Incorporating SRI into Financial Advising
  • ESG Performance, Risk, and Rating Metrics
  • The Fiduciary Standard and Communicating the Value of SRI
  • Current and Future Opportunities

The typical student should expect to spend approximately 90-135 hours in course-related activities to study and prepare adequately for the course examination. The CSRIC course also does “double-duty” for professionals who are considering a master’s degree: designees receive direct credit for one course in the College’s MS in Personal Financial Planning program, saving them time and money while pursuing multiple credentials.

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U.S. SIF members receive a 15 percent discount on the CSRIC course and course-related materials. In addition, many leading financial advisory firms endorse the CSRIC™ designation and will reimburse advisors for course-related expenses. For more information, visit the College’s website.

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Posted by Kaplan Financial Education - August 28, 2019
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact (SRI) Investment Expert

What Jobs Can I Get After Earning the CFP® Mark?

With the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) mark, you have a credential that can set you apart in the financial services industry. Earning the CFP® designation opens the door to unique professional opportunities for those with a bachelor’s degree who want a career in personal finance and planning. So, what kind of CFP® jobs are available to you after you’ve earned the credential and what kind of firms are hiring? Let’s take a look.

Financial Planner

A financial planner helps clients organize their finances and estimates the results of their savings and investments so they can see how well prepared they are to meet long-term financial goals. Financial planners also have certain areas of expertise, such as retirement planning or education funding planning. They assist with budgeting, cash flow planning, and saving for college and retirement. As a financial planner, you’ll likely create a comprehensive plan to help clients after assessing their current financial situations and researching what they can do to improve them.

Financial Advisor

A financial advisor helps clients manage their money, so the role is more general and broader than that of a financial planner. Financial advisors often specialize in investment management, estate planning, retirement planning, insurance, debt repayment, tax planning, or any other aspect of the finance industry. They can be stockbrokers, insurance agents, money managers, estate planners, bankers, and more. Financial planners with the CFP® designation are likely to create short-term and long-term financial goals for their clients and then devise financial plans for achieving them.

Financial Consultant

A financial consultant focuses on the accountability aspects of financial planning by designing action plans and a financial strategy and by helping clients run their financial systems. As part of this accountability, financial consultants collaborate with other financial professionals, such as attorneys, accountants, and investment managers to ensure their clients' financial needs are met. They also stay up-to-date on financial news and economic events that might affect the plans they’ve designed for their clients.

Investment Advisor or Investment Adviser Representative

Investment advisors, also known as Investment Adviser Representatives, recommend investments or conduct securities analysis for their clients. Although this position is generally associated with selling securities, investment advisors are often CFP® certificants, especially if their recommendations are for financial planning purposes, such as retirement, college, and estate.

Wealth Manager

Wealth managers provide services to high-net-worth individuals and ultra-high-net-worth individuals, which can include types of financial planning. Examples include investment management, financial planning, tax services and planning, retirement planning, legal planning, philanthropic planning, and estate planning, among others. Wealth managers are usually more hands-on, and their solutions are usually more comprehensive than other financial planning and advising disciplines because of the special needs of their high-net-worth clients.

CFP® Jobs: What Types of Firms Are Hiring?

Finance and insurance companies, including securities and commodity brokers, banks, insurance carriers, and financial investment firms, are the most common employers of finance professionals with the CFP® credential. Other sources of employment are wealth management firms, pension funds, and Registered Investment Advisers.

Interested in Pursuing the CFP® Designation?

Although earning the CFP® designation does not guarantee you a job, it can make a difference when an employer is deciding between two otherwise equally qualified candidates. Passing the CFP® Exam and earning the designation takes hard work and dedication. It demonstrates to potential employers that you have a mastery of the important concepts in financial planning. Therefore, companies are more likely to choose the candidate with the CFP® mark. It’s a career move worth considering. Our CFP® Exam prep study packages can certainly help you on your journey.

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Posted by Kaplan Financial Education - July 26, 2019
Woman Choosing Careers After Earning CFP

Frequently Asked Questions About the CFP® Exam

The questions most frequently asked about the CFP® exam and certification are answered in this article, equipping you with the information you need to plan for this next step in your career.

What is CFP® certification?

CFP® certification is a professional designation for financial planners. Also known as the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ or CFP® mark, its governing body, CFP Board, administers the credential. With financial advising and planning estimated to be one of the top 10 fastest growing occupations, getting your CFP® mark can help set you apart in the industry.

What is the difference between the CFP® certification and the CFA® charter?

The CFP® mark and CFA® charter are both the most prestigious designations in their respective fields, and each is administered by a governing body. To earn CFP® certification, you must sit for and pass one exam; the CFA Program exam has three levels. CFA charterholders commonly help individuals and institutions invest and allocate assets. A CFP® professional is likely to be a financial planner, wealth manager, or financial advisor. Our article about the CFP® mark vs the CFA charter has more details.

What is the difference between the CFP® certification and a master’s in personal financial planning?

Both the CFP® certification and a master’s degree in personal financial planning lead to unique professional opportunities for those with a bachelor’s degree who want a career in personal finance and planning. But their requirements, topics of study, and their benefits are slightly different. To make a decision, you need to think about what you want to do long-term. This article compares the two options in greater detail.

What jobs can I get with the CFP® certification?

CFP® professionals usually become financial planners or advisers, helping clients with investment decisions, taxes, and selecting insurance policies and retirement plans. While no two days will ever be the same, much of the work involves meeting with clients, analyzing financial information, and researching new opportunities.

How do I earn the CFP® certification?

Earning the CFP® certification involves the following steps:

  1. Complete a CFP Board-registered education program and make sure CFP Board is notified.
  2. Sit for the CFP® exam.
  3. Hold or earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college within five years of passing the CFP® exam.
  4. Demonstrate financial planning experience. This can be professional experience (6,000 hours) in relevant personal financial planning activities, or apprenticeship experience (4,000 hours) that meets additional requirements.
  5. Pass CFP Board’s Candidate Fitness Standards.

What is the CFP® exam? Why should I take it?

The CFP® exam is a multiple-choice, computer-based exam. It consists of two 3-hour sessions separated by a 30-minute scheduled break. It is offered three times a year in March, July, and November at almost 50 locations nationwide.

Recruiters and prospective employers recognize CFP® certification as the most desired designation in the growing financial planning and advisor field. If your objective is a career as a financial planner or financial adviser, you should consider earning the CFP® mark, which means taking and passing the exam.

Did you know you can get a sneak peak at the CFP® exam to determine if it's right for you? It's all in our free eBook. Download it today!

What are the requirements to sit for the CFP® exam?

To sit for the CFP® exam, you will need to complete a CFP Board-registered education program first. After you complete it, CFP Board must be notified. Usually, your coursework provider will do that for you. There are no degree requirements to sit for the CFP® exam, but you will have to earn a bachelor’s degree within five years of passing the exam. You don’t need a sponsor to take the exam. Also, candidates often use a CFP® exam study package before they take the exam, but it’s not required.

Should I earn the CFP® mark if I already have a different certification or charter?

It depends. If you have a securities or insurance license, the CFP® certification can be helpful if you would like to add planning to your repertoire. On the other hand, if you are a CFA charterholder, a CFP® mark might not be necessary. Interestingly, however, CFP Board allows CFA charterholders to sit for the exam without having to complete the education requirements. So, if you hold other financial designations, your best option is to consult with your firm about whether you should take the CFP® exam or not.

Is the CFP® exam paper or computer-based?

The CFP® exam is computer-based and administered at a Prometric testing center.

What topics are covered on the CFP® exam?

The topics covered on the CFP® exam include general financial planning principles, investment planning, retirement savings and income planning, risk management and insurance planning, tax planning, estate planning, professional conduct and regulation, and education planning.

How many questions are on the CFP® exam?

The CFP® exam consists of 170 multiple-choice questions that test your ability to apply your financial planning knowledge to client situations. The topic weights break down as follows:

Topics% of Exam# of Exam Questions
General financial planning principles17%29
Investment planning17%29
Retirement savings and income planning17%29
Risk management and insurance planning12%20
Tax planning12%20
Estate planning12%20
Professional conduct and regulation7%12
Education planning6%11
Total100%170

How much time does it take to study for the CFP® exam?

Most candidates spend between 250 and 300 hours studying for the CFP® exam, although there are reports that it took some candidates much more than that. The entire CFP® certification program, including CFP Board-required education, takes about a year.

How hard is the CFP® exam?

The CFP® exam is not easy, which is one reason the mark is among the most respected certifications in the financial services industry. It includes two case studies, multiple mini-case problem sets, and standalone questions designed to assess your knowledge of financial planning concepts and how to apply them to specific situations. It requires a significant investment of time to be successful. But most of the time, failing the exam is the result of not preparing properly. If you put together a stellar study plan and are willing to invest in your exam preparation, you can increase your odds of passing.

How much does it cost to sit for the CFP® exam?

There are three levels of pricing for the CFP® exam:

  • Early: $725 (prior to 6 weeks before the registration deadline)
  • Standard: $825 (between 6 and 2 weeks before the deadline)
  • Late: $925 (inside of 2 weeks before the deadline)

What are the pass rates and passing scores for the CFP® exam?

The most CFP Board says on the passing score for the exam is that it is based on a minimal competency level required to pass the exam, which is determined by CFP® professionals. In 2018, the overall pass rate was 60 percent, and the pass rate for first-time exam takers was approximately 64 percent.

If I fail the CFP® exam, what is the wait time before I can retake it?

Candidates who do not pass the exam on their first try can take it two more times in a 24-month period. You then have to wait a year before retaking it. If you don’t pass the exam after five attempts, you cannot take it again.

Ready to earn your CFP® mark?

We hope this article answers your pressing questions about the CFP® exam and certification. If you’re interested in taking the exam, we have CFP® exam study packages. Or if you’re just starting out and need to complete the required education, explore our CFP Board-registered education program.

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Posted by Kaplan Financial Education - May 15, 2019
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