It is important to realize that all financial planners are not “certified.” Only those who have fulfilled the certification and renewal requirements of the CFP Board can display the CFP® certification marks showing that they have completed the rigorous CFP® certification process. The standards of this process, called “the four Es,” include education, examination, experience, and ethical requirements, and they represent four important reasons why it is important for the financial planning consultant you work with to be a CFP®. You need to feel confident and secure that you have chosen a competent, ethical professional for the development of your customized financial plan.
Through the Code of Ethics, CFP® practitioners agree to put your interests first and act fairly and diligently when providing you with financial planning advice and services. The Code of Ethics states that CFP® practitioners are to act with integrity, offering you professional services that are objective and based on your needs. They are required to provide you with information about their sources of compensation and conflicts of interest in writing.
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Once CFP® practitioners are certified, they are required to maintain technical competence and fulfill ethical obligations. Another requirement is that every two years, they must complete a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education to stay current with developments in the financial planning profession and better serve clients. Two of these hours are spent studying or discussing the CFP® Board’s Code of Ethics or Practice Standards. In addition to the biennial continuing education requirement and as part of the renewal process, all CFP® practitioners must voluntarily disclose any public, civil, criminal, or disciplinary actions that may have been taken against them during the previous two years. These are all distinctive advantages of using a CFP® over financial advisors or stock brokers.