Advertorial for Minneapolis Star Tribune Special “How-To-Guide” March, 2006 How to Become a Certified Financial Planner Whether you already are a financial planner or have recently made the decision to enter the profession, getting your CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER, or CFP® certification will no doubt set you apart and identify you as a true professional in this fast-growing and prestigious field. Dr. Chan H. Lee, director of Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Financial Planning Certificate Program says this is one of the most exciting times to begin or expand your financial planning career. “Unprecedented wealth and bright economic prospects have dramatically increased the demand for quality advice on tax and estate planning, retirement, and investments of all types,” Lee said. “This is certainly the right time for anyone considering this respected profession.” Why Become a CFP®? According to Lee, achieving the sought-after CFP® certification not only boosts your career and earning potential, but also gives you instant credibility with clients by assuring them that you have met rigorous professional standards. Lee also said that today’s financial planning field is wide open and isn’t just limited to traditional employment in large brokerage firms. Banks, insurance agencies, and professional practices such as accounting and law firms that offer financial services all provide endless opportunities for those with the CFP® certification. Steps to Certification: “The Four E’s” Like attorneys, physicians and other professionals, there are several steps that potential certificants must take to achieve the distinguished CFP® mark. CFP® Board’s certification requirements are grouped in four areas, commonly called “The Four E’s.” Education – Before applying for the CFP® Certification Examination, you must complete a CFP® Board-Registered Education Program from a program like Minnesota State University Mankato’s. A four-year degree is required. Examination – After completing the necessary education requirements, you then must pass the CFP® Certification Examination, a comprehensive two-day exam that tests your financial planning knowledge. Experience -- Those with the CFP® status must also have a minimum of three years experience working in the financial planning process prior to earning the CFP®. Ethics – And, as a final step to certification, CFP® practitioners must pass an ethics review and agree to abide by CFP® Board’s Financial Planning Practice Standards and a strict code of professional conduct. First Things First: Choosing an Education Program The first, and perhaps most important step, is to fulfill the education requirement through a CFP® Board-Registered Education Program similar to that offered by Minnesota State University, Mankato. Genell Hollahan, a CFP® at Prior Lake State Bank in Prior Lake, decided to pursue the CFP® to increase her knowledge and credibility. She chose Minnesota State University, Mankato’s program without question. The convenient Twin Cities locations, the flexible class times that allowed her to continue working, and the in-person, interactive classroom setting all made Minnesota State Mankato right for her. “The faculty had both great real-life experience and textbook knowledge. I wanted to have those people there so I could ask questions,” Hollahan said. “I also wanted to benefit from the different learning styles being in a classroom offers.” Hollahan, who graduated from St. Thomas with a degree in finance, has moved up in her career since receiving her CFP® certification, and says all the work of “The Four E’s” was well worth it. “Becoming a CFP® has made a difference for me professionally and has also helped my clients realize I went through great effort to better myself to help them reach their goals.” Finding the Right Fit Before choosing a program, Lee recommends asking others in the field how they earned their certification, what qualities they would suggest looking for in a program, and how becoming a CFP® has improved their career. He also recommends thinking about the career path you ultimately want to pursue so you can make sure the education program you choose is the best possible fit. “One of the most important things you can do is simply talk to other professionals,” Lee said. “Interview others, do your research, get practical experience, and remember that by becoming a CFP®, it will provide years of prosperity to both clients and yourself.” For more information about becoming a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER or Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Program visit www.mnsu.edu/cfp or contact Jean Clarke, Program Coordinator at 800-311-3142, 507-389-2572 or firstname.lastname@example.org. SIDEBAR Financial Planning: A Promising Profession The 2001 Jobs Rated Almanac rates financial planning as the "best job in the whole country" because of its high pay, increased autonomy and relatively low stress. The most recent Survey of Trends in the Financial Planning Industry lists the median gross salary earnings after receiving CFP® Certification increased to $72,000 per year, with many incomes significantly higher. Employment opportunities for CFP®s are expected to grow faster than average. According to the 2006-2007 U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook, the demand for CFPs® is expected grow between 21-35 percent through 2014. Those enrolled in Minnesota State University Mankato’s respected CFP® program passed at a significantly higher rate than the national average. On the November 2005 exam, an amazing 83 percent of Minnesota State Mankato students passed compared to only 63 percent on a national average.