5 tips for financial advisors seeking CFP certification

Obtaining the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation and looming six-hour exam that serves as the final obstacle to the adventure has earned a reputation as one of the toughest jobs in the industry.

And CFP veteran Andy Watts wouldn’t have it any other way.

“CFP is not an easy designation, and I’m sure many have heard of it. But I agree 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, said Financial Planning. “So I think before anyone even dives into the RFP, they need to have an honest conversation with themselves about why they’re doing it. If it’s just about making money, I’m sure it will come, but that shouldn’t be the primary motivation. If it’s just letters after your name, that’s not the right designation for you.

“But if the ‘why’ behind earning the CFP is to better serve your customer, improve the solutions you can provide, and help them achieve their goals, then I think this is the certification you you need. But figure out your “why,” write it down, and put it on a sticky note so you can remember when the process gets tough.

The CFP Board kicked off 2022 by celebrating the largest and most diverse class of CFPs to ever earn certification. The previous year ended with the number of CFP professionals reaching a record high of 92,055, up 3.8% from the 88,726 at the end of 2020.

There were also notable year-over-year gains among women, black and Hispanic CFP professionals. There were 1,374 women in the class of 2021, representing an increase of 4.2%. The 267 new Hispanic CFPs and 150 new Black CFPs increased by 15% and 10%, respectively. Overall, 5,273 professionals earned the CFP designation in 2021 months.

The latest figures put the total number of CFPs at 92,954. But diversity numbers continue to struggle with only 23.4% of CFPs being women, 2.8% being Hispanic and 1.8% being black.

Financial planning asked CFPs who have already reached the top to share their knowledge with those who are just beginning their ascent. Scroll down to see what they had to say about study tips, time management, support systems and more.