The pursuit of one’s certified financial planner (CFP) designation and the looming six-hour exam that serves as the adventure’s final hurdle has earned a reputation as one of the tougher tasks in the industry.
And veteran CFP Andy Watts wouldn’t have it any other way.
“The CFP is not an easy designation, which I’m sure many have heard. But I’m OK with that. Frankly, I want it to be difficult because I want the bar to be high for those who have this designation,” Watts, vice president of investment solutions for Avantax Wealth Management, told Financial Planning. “So I think even before someone dives into the CFP, they need to have an honest conversation with themselves as to why they’re doing it. If it’s solely about making money, I’m sure that will come, but that shouldn’t be the primary motivation. If it’s only about letters after your name, then this is not the right designation for you.
“But if the ‘why’ behind you getting the CFP is better serving your client, enhancing the solutions that you can bring to the table and helping them solve for their goals, then I think it’s the certification for you. But understand your ‘why’ going into it, write it down and put it on a sticky note so you can remind yourself when the process gets tough.”
CFP Board kicked off 2022 by celebrating the biggest, most diverse class of CFPs to ever earn certification. The previous year ended with the number of CFP professionals hitting an all-time high of 92,055, up 3.8% from the 88,726 tallied at the close of 2020.
There were also notable year-over-year gains among women, Black and Hispanic CFP pros. There were 1,374 women in the class of 2021, representing an increase of 4.2%. The 267 new Hispanic and 150 new Black CFPs were increases of 15% and 10%, respectively. Overall, 5,273 professionals earned CFP designations in 2021 months.
The latest figures put the number of total CFPs at 92,954. But diversity numbers continue to struggle with just 23.4 % of CFPs being women, 2.8% being Hispanic and 1.8% being Black.
Financial Planning asked CFPs who have already reached the summit to share their knowledge with those just starting their climb. Scroll down to see what they had to say about study tips, time management, support systems and more.