While many entities provide financial planning assistance to people who want a better handle on their financial situations and goals, a certified financial planner (CFP) can truly be considered a professional in the field. CFPs are only granted this title after passing a grueling certification process which ensures the individual's extensive knowledge of all aspects of the work; these include retirement planning and tax laws and regulations, as well as insurance and investment vehicles. Certified financial planners work with individuals, either under the auspices of a financial institution or in private practice, to help them manage money, income, and expenses.
Certified financial planners typically begin with clients by assessing all areas of income and debt from the past and foreseeable future. They also interview clients to discover potential problem areas, as well as the financial goals the individual may hold. These goals can include saving for retirement, college expenses for children, further investments, or simply attempting to work around problems like long-term debt.
CFPs work to present as many solutions and choices as possible to clients. These can include taking advantage of potential tax breaks, examining refinancing opportunities, or using different financial product packages. They also advise clients on recommended investment mixes regarding stocks, bonds, and other commodities, and may help anticipate spikes in debt or design financial shelters in case of job loss or other difficulties.
A bachelor's degree may be a minimum requirement for this position, though there are also specific requirements regarding a variety of topics in insurance, investment, and market work. CFPs must also pass a rigorous two-day examination before being certified; this certification is held in high regard by financial institutions, though some CFPs choose to work independently of such organizations. These planners typically work during regular business hours in an office environment, but some will take time for irregular hours and field work to visit with potential clients in their homes.
Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Tasks
Interview individuals or businesses to identify financial goals, concerns, and opportunities.
Create agendas, spreadsheets, and meeting materials to discuss investments, savings, and asset allocation.
Document and revise financial plans for clients.