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What is a CFP Designation?

By: Janice Bandick

Published On: August 21, 2015

What is a CFP?

The Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation is a professional certification for financial planners. The CFP designation is a symbol that an individual has achieved and maintains internationally recognized standards of knowledge, skills, abilities and ethics.

The CFP certification is the most widely recognized financial planning designation in Canada and is considered the “gold standard” for the profession, representing the highest level of competence, ethics and practice.

There are more than 17,000 CFP professionals across Canada, and more than 170,000 in 26 territories around the world.



In order to obtain the CFP designation, individuals must commit to extensive education, a standardized national examination process, continuing education requirements and accountability to the Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) for a code of ethics, practice standards, and the rules and regulations of their professional body.

Changes to the CFP Path to Certification

In July 2014, the FPSC Registered Candidate program was replaced with the FPSC Level 1™ Certification in Financial Planning.

The FPSC Level 1 certificant is equipped to provide financial planning strategies and solutions for clients who have less complex financial planning needs. However, these certificants are still required to maintain the same standard of care, ethics and continuing education as a CFP professional. The FPSC Level 1 certificant can serve as the first step on the path towards a CFP designation.

Becoming a CFP

There are three routes to the CFP designation. Each route is tailored to the industry it is designed for, and it is recommended that students opt for the route of the industry they currently work in or aspire to. The following

  • Stream 1: Bankers
  • Stream 2: Mutual Fund Representatives (MFDA)
  • Stream 3: Investment Advisors (IIROC)

A CFP designation requires the completion of a college-level program of study in personal financial planning, or an accepted equivalent (through Challenge Status or Transcript Review), including completion of a financial plan development (capstone) course registered with CFP Board. Individuals must also hold a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally-accredited college or university in order to obtain CFP certification.


After successfully meeting the education coursework requirement, candidates are eligible to register for the CFP Certification Examination. The CFP Certification Examination assesses ones ability to apply financial planning knowledge to real-world situations.The exam is comprised of 170 multiple-choice questions, including stand-alone questions and sets of questions associated with short scenarios or more lengthy case histories. In 2013, the overall pass rate was 63.3 percent, and the pass rate for first-time exam takers was approximately 68 percent.


In order to hold a CFP designation, individuals must have at least three years of professional experience in the financial planning industry, or two years of apprenticeship experience that meets additional requirements.


CFP professionals agree to adhere to the high standards of ethics and practice outlined in CFP Board’s Standards of Professional Conduct. After completing the education, examination and experience components of the CFP certification process, a CFP Certification Application must be completed, and a background check conducted.


The Convenience of Online Learning When Pursuing the CFP Designation

If you are serious about pursuing a career in the financial industry, achieving the CFP designation is the first step on your path to success. Ashton College offers an online CFP® Certification Education Program in association with Advocis (Financial Advisors Association of Canada) that has been approved by the FSPC. This 28-week program consists of four courses (Financial Planning Fundamentals, Contemporary Practices in Financial Planning, Comprehensive Practices in Risk and Retirement Planning, and Wealth Management and Estate Planning), each of which are seven weeks in length and take place in an entirely online format.

Each week the course instructor presents two live webinars on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm PST, which are also recorded and available for later viewing. There is also a weekly scheduled interactive discussion with students and the course instructor. This virtual office hour is flexible, and the date and time will vary by instructor. This convenient format is perfect for busy professionals who wish to pursue the CFP designation but are unable to attend classes in-person.



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  1. Sangam Neupane says:

    I am an MBA graduate and I am currently working as an Assistant Manager at Nepal Bank Limited for the last four years.
    I am interested to pursue CFP course. Please assist me whether I can pursue the course or not.

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