How do you know if you could benefit from a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professional?

You may not have the expertise, the time or the desire to actively plan and manage certain financial aspects of your life. You may need help getting started. You may benefit from an objective, third-party perspective on what are often emotional, difficult decisions. In today's hectic world, it can be beneficial to have a CFP® professional expert to make sure you stay focused and follow through.

A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professional from the Financial Planning Association® (FPA®) can help you:

Set realistic financial and personal goals

Assess your current financial health by examining your assets, liabilities, income, insurance, taxes, investments and estate plan

Develop a realistic, comprehensive plan to meet your financial goals by identifying financial opportunities and building on financial strengths

Often a specific event or need will trigger the desire for professional financial planning guidance. These might include:

Making sure your money will last during retirement or rolling over a retirement plan.

Handling inheritance or other unexpected financial windfall

Financial preparation for a marriage or divorce

Planning for the birth or adoption of a child

Facing a financial crisis such as an illness, layoff or natural disaster

Making sure your money will last during retirement or rolling over a retirement plan.

Coping financially with the death of a spouse or close family member

Funding for education expenses

Buying, selling or passing on a family business.

Planning for complex financial situations

more Planning for life events Resources

CFP® professionals are dedicated to using the financial planning process. To earn the prestigious CFP® certification and remain certified as a CFP® professional, individuals must meet the following requirements:


They must complete a comprehensive course of study offered by a college or university program (ranging from certificate to doctoral degree levels) which covers a personal financial planning curriculum approved by CFP Board. In addition, they must have earned a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university.


CFP® professionals must successfully complete CFP Board's comprehensive examination, which tests an individual's ability to integrate and apply their financial planning knowledge.


They must acquire three years of financial planning related experience, or a limited 2-year structured option, before achieving the right to use the CFP® marks.


They must voluntarily ascribe to CFP Board's code of ethics and additional requirements as mandated. This includes providing financial planning services as a fiduciary, or acting in the client's best interest.

Choosing a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professional is as important as choosing a doctor or lawyer; it's a very personal relationship.

Many CFP® professionals specialize in working with certain types of clients, such as small-business owners, executives or retirees. Some specialize in certain areas of planning such as retirement, divorce or asset management. We recommend you interview at least three CFP® professionals to find the right one that best serves your needs.

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1. Starting Your Search for a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER Professional

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2. Questions to Ask in Your Search for a Qualified CFP® Professional

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4. What do the Financial Planner Credentials Mean?

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5. Planners Outside the United States

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6. What to Bring to Your First Meeting

There are a number of documents you'll need once you engage with a CFP® professional; a comprehensive list may be...

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