The arrival of a new year is often an impetus for setting goals and exploring new adventures. This year, my gaze was set upon the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Certification Education Program. A CFP credential is a rallying call in the world of finance, a proof of competence and ethical standards in financial planning. It has always held a certain allure for me and finally, I decided to take a deeper look.
Breakdown of the CFP certification requisites:
- The Basics: CFP Board-approved coursework and a bachelor’s degree from a recognized institution.
- The Test: A grueling 6-hour long CFP® Exam, peppered with 170 multiple-choice questions on a host of topics.
- Practical Experience: Garnering of 6,000 hours of professional experience in financial planning or 4,000 hours as an apprentice, meeting additional criteria.
- Ethical Creed: Walking the path of righteousness with the Candidate Fitness and Standards Background Check.
Now, before you mark me as a budding financial planner, let me clarify; I have no intention, as it stands, of becoming a professional financial planner. Fun fact, I find even managing my parent’s portfolio a bit nerve-wracking. Thus, embarking on the journey of 6000 hours of professional experience, which is one of CFP certification requirements, does not feature in my planning charts. Then why, you ask, bother to invest so much time and money? Valid question. Here’s why:
- I find managing my financial portfolio, and that of my parents, an interesting challenge.
- Financial topics pique my interest and I enjoy learning about them.
- I believe in expanding my perspective by understanding what the CFP board considers crucial and “correct”.
- I hope uncover helpful insights to share with my readers.
- Lastly, the cost involved in learning doesn’t seem to be a reckless proposition. For instance, a portfolio worth $1 million at a robo-advisor-like annual management fee of 0.30%, costs $3,000. Hence, investing an equivalent amount in self-education doesn’t sound entirely impulsive.
All Roads Lead to University of Georgia
Among the myriad choices, I stumbled upon the University of Georgia Self-Paced Online CFP® Program. Their offer wasn’t the most famous or the longest existing, but it appeared to be a solid CFP Board-registered program. It promised coverage of all the required topics at an affordable cost of $3,250, with an added $750 for optional textbooks. The rundown of the courses looked like this:
- Introduction to Financial Planning
- Navigating Insurance Planning
- Diving into Investment Planning
- Moving through Income Tax Planning
- Embracing Retirement Planning
- Understanding Estate Planning
- Learning to Develop the Financial Plan
Piqued by the offerings, I registered for a “free demo”. Promptly, a discounted offer of $700 off the “sticker” price arrived in my email. Though the offer no longer stands, it’s worth mentioning to those considering this journey. The course, it turns out, is run by Greene Consulting who organizes the same CFP courses for several different universities.
One important detail to note: I am not associated with this program other than being a paying participant. Things moved a bit too fast here and I found myself impulsively buying the program post-receipt of the discount offer. Well, who can resist a good bargain, right? To justify my impulsive move, I found the program to be quite cost-effective when compared with other CFP courses.
As a part of this program, one is allowed up to 21 months to complete all the courses. I planned to finish one course per month, beginning February. Currently, I’m sailing through the first course, “Fundamentals of Financial Planning”. Despite being old-school (and a bit aged) and purchasing physical textbooks, I haven’t had the necessity to flip through them yet. The textbooks are procured from Money Education.
Financial professionals often opt for an additional “exam cram course” with heaps of practice questions, solely focused on passing the CFP Exam. This tacks on roughly another $1,000, not including the FCP Exam fee of ~$925. However, given I’m only pursuing the knowledge and not the certification, I’m not entirely convinced about incurring the extra cost.
And So, The Journey Begins…
The start of this journey has been exciting, to say the least. As I thumb my way through financial jargon, ethical codes and market dynamics, I start to appreciate the beauty of financial planning. Although my intended goal is gaining personal knowledge, I’m hopeful this learning excursion will furnish valuable insights for my reader friends as well.
Stay tuned for further updates from my grand adventure into the realm of financial planning. Remember, learning never exhausts the mind, it only ignites it.