Pursuing your CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) certification is a proven way to gain specialized knowledge in key areas of financial planning and elevate your practice. The education requirements provisioned by the CFP Board covers seven topics. In many programs, you can complete courses covering the requirements at your own pace.

To provide you with insight into the specifics of each educational requirement, we've outlined the seven financial planning courses that comprise the CFP® certification education program at The American College of Financial Services, one of the nation’s most recognized and accredited institutions of higher learning for financial professionals.  

1. Financial Planning: Process and Environment

This course outlines the roles and overall responsibilities of a financial planner while providing a variety of analytical tools for the student pursuing their CFP® certification. Topics range from ethics and risk tolerance to communication techniques and regulatory issues. The financial planning class also highlights the time value of money and the changing landscape of the economic and legal environments comprising financial planning.

2. Fundamentals of Insurance Planning

As the name implies, this course focuses on the role that insurance plays in financial planning. The concepts covered are diverse, including risk management and the insurance industry as a whole. There’s also an emphasis on the industry's legal principles and regulation of insurers. Other topics include life insurance, annuities, medical and disability income insurance, long-term care insurance, and liability insurance for both commercial and personal property.

3. Income Taxation

The income taxation course is dedicated entirely to analyzing the federal income tax system. This course emphasizes this system in relation to the taxation of individuals. Concepts covered in the class include deductions and tax credits as well as capital gains and losses. The course also provides information on gross income and its exclusions and the taxation of life insurance and annuities. Finally, this course reviews how income tax affects shareholders, partners, partnerships, and corporations.

4. Planning for Retirement Needs

With a focus on helping both businesses and individuals choose the retirement plan suited to their specific needs, this course covers non-qualified, deferred compensation plans and qualified plans in addition to SIMPLEs, SEPs, and 403(b) plans. The retirement planning course examines IRAs, Roth IRAs, the benefits of Social Security, and other practical aspects of retirement to help you customize advice for each client's financial scenario and lifestyle.

5. Investments

This course wholly revolves around investment, including the principles of investment as they apply to different areas of financial planning. The investments class includes risk and return computations, tax issues regarding investment, diversifying to reduce risk, and how to analyze expected returns. This component of your financial planning courses looks at the nature and organization of investment companies and security markets, also providing ample practice with strategic and ethical portfolio management.

6. Fundamentals of Estate Planning

The goal of this course is to help you develop a basic understanding of the estate and gift tax system. It examines various strategies of estate planning and different aspects of gift tax and estate tax planning. The curriculum includes the valuation of assets, ethical standards, buy-sell agreements, fact-finding, and the development of personal estate plans. As a critical piece of your CFP® certification education, you’ll also learn about valuation transfer, property taxation, and how property can be transferred via instruments like wills and trusts.

7. Personal Financial Planning: Case Analysis

Rounding out the education program is a final course designed to test what you’ve learned about personal financial planning techniques by applying your knowledge towards a comprehensive case study. This case study requires an integration of your skills in investment, retirement, income tax, risk management, and employee benefits. Mastery of these concepts, along with other general principles of financial planning, will help you succeed in this practical course.

Why you should consider the CFP® Certification

Your decision to become a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional represents a major step in your career. Financial planners with the CFP® certification have higher incomes, bring more value to their firms, and achieve higher client satisfaction ratings. In The College’s seven-course CFP® certification education program, you will learn from faculty who are nationally recognized experts in their fields and supported by a full staff of academic counselors.  As for the coursework, it will give you practical knowledge you can apply directly to your work.

And, because The College’s CFP® exam pass rate is consistently higher than the national average, you will be well-positioned to receive the designation when you complete the program: 72% of our students passed the July 2018 CFP® exam, compared to the national average of 56%.

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, and CFP (with flame logo)® in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP® Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements. The American College of Financial Services does not certify individuals to use the CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, and CFP® (with flame logo)® certification marks. CFP® certification is granted solely by Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. to individuals who, in addition to completing an educational requirement such as this CFP Board-Registered Program, have met ethics, experience, and examination requirements.

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