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The format for earning a CFP designation changed in January and COVID hit in March, but don’t worry, if you were planning on taking a Certified Financial Planner Course to work towards your CFP designation, you can still do so! Ashton College recently announced the CFP course program will be offered online along with the range of other courses delivered through the school’s Live-Online platform.
Keep in mind that the changes that occurred in January to the CFP program are important to understand and may impact where you are in the overall certified financial planner course. You need to know what the changes are and what they might mean to you and your education journey.
Who is FP Canada and how is a CFP Earned Now?
FP Canada is the body that certifies financial planners and provides standards, education, tools and resources for financial planners across Canada. The organization’s website at fpcanada.ca explains certification processes as well as CFP course information and the changes that were announced in January.
There are several ways to earn your designation through FP Canada since those changes and it is important to note your ultimate goal. If you want to earn a QAFP (formerly the FPSC Level 1), you’ll need a minimum of one year of qualified work experience, the required education program and to pass the national exam. Maintaining the QFP designation requires yearly continuing education and adherence to the FP Canada standards and ethics.
There are three paths to the CFP designation. First is to earn the QAFP, then work towards the CFP. FP Canada calls this the QAFP Bridge Path to CFP. Following earning the QAFP, the financial planner will need to complete the required education, take the CFP exam and apply for CFP certification.
The second route to CFP designation is known as the direct path and this starts with the FP Canada Approved Core Curriculum Program, followed by the Advanced Core Curriculum Program. The professional ethics course must also be taken and then the next step is the CFP Professional Education Program, the exam and application for certification. Depending upon where you are in the process of your certified financial planner courses, you’ll want to find out what schools deliver your next education component online so that you can keep your CFP education progressing.
The third route to earning a CFP designation is known as the alternate paths method and builds on previously earned qualifications and designations so that the financial planner can skip over certain parts of the certified financial planner course work depending upon their background. For example, those with a Pl. Fin. (financial planning program designation in Quebec), are able to proceed directly to the CFP exam. Those with CPA (Certified Public Accountant) Fellow of the FCIA (Fellow, Canadian Institute of Actuaries) or other FP Canada outlined designations may skip the first two course requirements and proceed to the CFP Professional Education Program. Finally, a foreign CFP professional must complete the Introduction to Professional Ethics before they can proceed to the CFP exam.
Additionally, other types of designations such as a mutual funds licence or PFP (Professional Financial Planner) designation will allow those working towards their CFP to skip parts of the certified financial planner course work as well. It’s important to check the FP Canada site to find out where you fit.
Is Taking the CFP Course Online Right for You?
Online education is a wonderful opportunity for a wide range of reasons. Right now, during the COVID pandemic, it’s the only education option, but it’s still important to know if learning online will be the right fit for you or if you should wait until traditional in-class learning is an option. Ashton College recently brought their CFP courses to the online world and with qualified professional instructors, this can be a great way to work towards your CFP.
Online education allows you to learn at your own pace using your own technology. With online learning, lessons are stored in cloud-based tools, instructors conduct both live and recorded education sessions, lectures and labs that students can access and play when they want from wherever they want and other online tools allow for student interaction. This creates greater flexibility in the student’s education timing and also in the instructor’s time. Generally these types of learning arrangements include a student portal or list-serve type of communication that allows for interaction between instructors and students outside of the pre-recorded lessons.
While exams are still conducted primarily in-person, in this education format, students have control over their lesson time and place. This allows for the remoteness of a correspondence program but adds flexibility and more connectivity.
It’s camera-enabled devices that make it all possible as well as live-feed technology. Lessons can be taught and watched in real time or a student can review the recorded session. The only downfall with the recorded sessions is that there is no ability to interact live with the instructor and other students, but when scheduling makes attending impossible, it’s a great option.
Online education allow students to live and work away from the school of their choice without missing out on the education they want. Plus, student-owned tools make for comfort and familiarity in the education process, they can also sometimes allow for a reduced price of certain courses or programs that would be more costly with texts, parking and other expenses.
The internet, peer-to-peer media and live conferencing have also made it possible for anyone with expertise in any area to create their own courses and programs. While these privately-made education programs aren’t endorsed by a school or educational institution, they add to the robustness of education available for those in certain fields who are clamouring for more information and a way to improve their skills without leaving their home. It’s really ideal in the pandemic-age we currently find ourselves in.
As mentioned, online learning isn’t for everyone. It can take self-motivation and commitment that are hard to come by in challenging times. However, if you’ve been working towards earning your CFP designation and are ready to jump into a financial planner certification course to progress that dream to earn a designation there’s nothing holding you back thanks to certified financial planner courses being offered online.
Read our other blog: Changes in the CFP Program: What You Need to Know