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Why are the CFP® Certification Requirements Important?

Most people think that all financial planners are "certified," but this isn’t true. Anyone can call himself or herself a "financial planner." Only those who have fulfilled the certification and renewal requirements of CFP Board can display the CFP® certification marks. When selecting a financial planner, you need to feel confident that the person you choose to help you plan for your future is competent and ethical. The CFP® certification provides that sense of security by allowing only those who meet the following requirements the right to use the CFP® certification marks.

CFP® Certification Requirements

Education: CFP® professionals must develop their theoretical and practical financial planning knowledge by completing a comprehensive course of study at a college or university offering a financial planning curriculum approved by CFP Board. Other options for satisfying the education component include submitting a transcript review or previous financial planning-related course work to CFP Board for review and credit, or showing the attainment of certain professional designations or academic degrees.

What is the CFS Designation?

The Institute of Business & Finance has awarded Randall J. Yeomans with the only nationally recognized investment fund designation.

CFS (Certified Fund Specialist)

This designation is conferred upon candidates who complete a one-year educational program and pass a comprehensive examination. CFS designees must also adhere to a professional Code of Ethics and meet annual Continuing Education requirements to maintain their certification.
The CFS program provides advisors who are qualified to consult their clients on the advisability and costs of acquiring or retaining mutual funds in their investment portfolio.
There are several hundred thousand people licensed to sell mutual funds and annuities; less than 1% of them have earned the CFS designation.


  • A Certified Fund Specialist shall conduct all activities in a lawful manner consistent with the highest standards of honesty, integrity and ethics.
  • A Certified Fund Specialist shall exercise reasonable and prudent professional judgment and shall otherwise act in the best interest of the client.
  • A Certified Fund Specialist shall conduct investment services in a competent, efficient and economical manner.
  • A Certified Fund Specialist shall keep abreast of developments in the field and strive to improve professional competence in all areas of investment funds in which the CFS is engaged.
  • A Certified Fund Specialist shall offer advice only in those areas in which he or she has competence.
  • A Certified Fund Specialists conduct in all matters shall reflect credit upon the profession.

A CFS shall use the marks CFS and Certified Fund Specialist in compliance with the rules and regulations of the Institute of Business and Finance, as established and amended over time.

What is a CEP®?

The CEP®, or Certified Estate PlannerTM, is a financial, legal, and tax professional who has earned a distinctive educational certification through the National Institute of Certified Estate Planners. A CEP® has:
Completed a rigorous course of instruction in the field of estate planning
Successfully passed a comprehensive examination process
Shown a desire to associate with professional estate planning peers
Agreed to comply with annual estate planning continuing education requirements
Ascribed to the practical guidelines and code of ethics of the institut

What is the RFC Designation?

  • The Registered Financial Consultant (RFC). This designation was developed to help the client recognize that a financial professional is a practicing qualified advisor. RFC requirements:
  • Experience: A minimum of four years experience as a full time practitioner in the field of financial planning.
  • Ethics: Must subscribe to the IARFC Code of Ethics.
  • Continuing Education: Must agree to devote a minimum of 40 hours per year to continuing education in the field of financial planning.
  • Business Background: Must have a sound record of business integrity with no suspensions or revocations of any professional licenses.
  • Education: Must have earned a bachelors or graduate degree with strong emphasis on subjects relating to economics, accounting, business, statistics, finance, and similar studies or have earned one of the following professional degrees or have designations: CFA, CFP, ChFC, CLU, CPA, EA, JD, LLB, LUTCF, RHU; or completed a CFP equivalent course at an accredited college or university.
  • Professional Licensing: Must have met licensing requirements for securities and life and health insurance. A non-licensed fee-only planner must submit RIA affiliation information.

Each year the RFC must re-subscribe to the above principles and attest to the completion of continuing education, which is subject to audit.

Commitment to Continuing Professional Education. The IARFC requires that those holding the Registered Financial Consultant (RFC) or Registered Financial Associate (RFA) designations must complete 40 units of continuing education.

Board Certified in Mutual Funds (BCMF)

Candidates must first obtain the Certified Fund Specialist (CFS) designation before proceeding with board certification. Seven course modules teach candidates about a variety of subjects, including annuities, portfolio strategy, asset allocation and wealth management.