“Financial planning” is a term that encompasses a broad range of services and professions. Brokers, accountants, and even insurance agents can legally call themselves financial planners without obtaining a certification in financial advising. That is why it’s crucial to work with a financial advisor who has achieved professional credentials, such as the Certified FinancialPlanner (CFP®) designation.
Obtaining this much-coveted designation requires several steps. Financial planners must successfully complete rigorous coursework, a thorough examination, and extensive hours of experience in the field. Those who have the CFP® credential can be trusted to demonstrate a high level of competency, ethics, and professionalism. In addition, because the CFP Board holds them to the fiduciary standard of care, CFP® professionals must act in your best interests.
How Ethics & Enforcement Helps You
CFP® professionals need to demonstrate in-depth theoretical and practical knowledge and skills in financial planning. They must successfully work through a comprehensive curriculum at a postsecondary institution. The curriculum must have approval from the CFP Board. This education requirement may be satisfied by submitting a transcript review or prior financial planning-related coursework. Alternatively, they can prove that they have attained certain professional designations or academic degrees that cover the important subjects in the CFPBoard’s financial planning curriculum.
Before they can use the CFP® designation, financial planning professionals must pass the rigorous CFP® Certification Exam. This thorough six-hour exam includes both stand-alone and scenario-based questions. It also contains case studies to test the professional’s theoretical and practical knowledge. These questions examine the professional’s ability to apply their knowledge to real-world situations.
The exam covers topics such as the financial planning process, tax planning, employee benefits and retirement planning, estate planning, investment management, and insurance. This comprehensive assessment helps ensure that a CFP® professional is highly qualified to develop a plan for your finances.
Even after passing the rigorous CFP® Certification Exam, professionals are not allowed to use the CFP® designation until they meet the financial planning experience requirements. A professional may complete 4,000 hours of apprenticeship experience with additional requirements. Alternatively, they may complete 6,000 hours of professional experience that focuses on the financial planning process. This hands-on experience guarantees that CFP®professionals have practical financial planning knowledge that enables them to develop informed strategies and results-oriented recommendations for their clients.
CFP® professionals must maintain the highest standards of professional responsibility, accountability, and ethics in accordance with the CFP Board’s Standards of ProfessionalConduct. The CFP Board’s Code of Ethics obliges CFP® professionals to uphold the principles of integrity, objectivity, competence, fairness, confidentiality, professionalism, and diligence.
When an individual chooses to work with a CFP® professional, they can rest assured that the professional will put their interests first at all times, as required by the Rules of Conduct.Furthermore, CFP® professionals are required to provide their services as a fiduciary. This ensures the professionals will only make decisions and recommendations that are in the best interests of their clients. CFP® professionals are subject to CFP Board sanctions if they violate these standards.
The CFP Board’s rigorous enforcement of its Standards of Professional Conduct—including releasing disciplinary information to the public—distinguishes the CFP® certification from the many other designations in the financial services industry. Certification applicants must submit to a thorough background check. This step bars from certification any professionals whose past conduct does not meet the high ethical and practice standards of the CFP Board.
These high standards continue to apply to professionals after they achieve the CFP® certification. Any professional who violates the ethical and practice standards is subject to disciplinary action up to and including the permanent revocation of the certification. Through diligent enforcement of its ethical and practice standards, the CFP Board provides you with the confidence that your CFP® professional is both competent and ethical.
CFP® professionals make a commitment to upholding CFP Board’s Standards of Professional Conduct, and the CFP Board is actively involved in the enforcement of those Standards. These commitments provide you with reassurance of the high level of ethical and competent service to expect when working with a CFP® professional. Knowing what to expect from a financial planning relationship puts you in the driver’s seat — which is exactly where you belong. To get the most out of your experience with a financial planner, you shouldn’t settle for anything less than a partnership with a true CFP® professional.
Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF)
An accredited investment fiduciary (AIF) is a trustee. The term “fiduciary” can be broadly defined as follows: “A person who is legally appointed and authorized to hold assets in trust for another person. The fiduciary manages the assets for the benefit of the other person, rather than for his or her own profit.”
A person who has achieved the AIF professional designation has demonstrated advanced knowledge and competencies in the area of fiduciary responsibility. This designation reflects a thorough knowledge of and ability to apply fiduciary practices. Designees must work through a rigorous training program administered by Fi360. Through this program, they develop a thorough understanding of best practices, as well as the legal framework they are built upon.Within the financial planning industry, AIF designees have a reputation for their ability to implement prudent processes into their own investment practices. They are also able to competently assist others in implementing proper policies and procedures.
AIF Code of ethics
To My Clients
To My Community
- Employ and provide the client information on the Prudent Practices when serving as an investment fiduciary and/or advising other investment fiduciaries.
- Act with honesty and integrity and avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
- Ensure the timely and understandable disclosure of relevant information that is accurate, complete, and objective.
- Be responsible when determining the value of my services and my form of compensation; taking into consideration the time, skill, experience, and special circumstances involved in providing my services.
- Know the limits of my expertise, and refer my clients to colleagues and/or other professionals in connection with issues beyond my knowledge and skills.
- Respect the confidentiality of information acquired in the course of my work, and not disclose such information to others, except when authorized or otherwise legally obligated to do so. I will not use confidential information acquired in the course of my work for my personal advantage.
- Not exploit any relationship or responsibility that has been entrusted to me.
1. Proactively promote and be a steward of ethical behavior as a responsible partner among my peers in the work environment and in my community.
2. Ensure that the overall promotion of my practice is implemented in the best interests of my profession.
3. Seek, accept, and offer honest criticism of technical work; acknowledge and correct errors; and properly credit the contributions of others.
4. Use corporate assets and resources employed or entrusted to me in a responsible manner.
5. Continue to improve my knowledge and skill, share ideas and information with colleagues and assist them in their professional development.
View Our AIF designations here: AIF Designee Search