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CFP Board’s certification requirements are centered around the “Four E’s” — Education, Examination, Experience and Ethics — each of which has developed and been strengthened over the course of CFP Board’s history.

1986: CFP Board approves curriculum standards for registered institutions.

1987: CFP Board’s begins registration of financial planning education programs; 25 institutions register by year end.

1987: The CFP Board commissioned-study, Job Analysis of the Professional Requirements of the Certified Financial Planner, conducted by the College for Financial Planning, sets out 175 subject matter areas that formed the basis of CFP Board’s model curriculum and exam development, and grouped those in 6 categories: Fundamentals of Financial Planning, Insurance Planning, Investment Planning, Income Tax Planning, Retirement Planning and Employee Benefits, and Estate Planning.

1988: Continuing education requirements introduced; first Program Directors’ Conference held.

1990: Job Knowledge Requirements of the Certified Financial Planner published; model curriculum based on 1987 Job Analysis published.

1994: Transcript review process introduced, allowing those who had not completed a CFP Board-Registered Program but who had completed courses corresponding to the required curriculum for CFP® certification to meet the education requirement; continuing education requirement amended to require at least 2 hours on CFP Board’s ethical standards.

2004: CFP Board and Academy of Financial Services establish a model curriculum for university-level financial planning programs, to assist more colleges and universities in establishing degree programs in financial planning.

2007: Bachelor’s degree requirement takes effect; applicants for certification must have a bachelor's degree (or higher), or its equivalent, in any discipline, from an accredited college or university

2008: Council on Education formed to advise CFP Board staff on the development and clarification of all educational policies related to the CFP® certification process.

2010: CFP Board adopts a Financial Plan Development Course requirement, which requires future applicants for CFP® certification an opportunity to integrate and apply all aspects of curricular content within their registered program through a capstone course. The new course requirement is phased in beginning March 2012.

1986: Adoption of Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct and Disciplinary Rules and Procedures.

1989: Preliminary discussions of identifying generally accepted financial planning principles and practice standards.

1991: Following a 3-year development process, CFP Board adopts revised Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, which introduced comprehensive disclosure requirements, with a January 1, 1993 effective date.

1995: Board of Practice Standards holds first meeting in January; first Practice Standard released for comments in fall of 1995.

1999: First three Practice Standards become effective.

2002: Final Practice Standards become effective.

2003: Updated disclosure rules for the Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility take effect; Disciplinary Rules and Proceduresamended to increase efficiency of investigative process, giving staff more discretion to analyze evidence and dismiss cases at an early stage under certain circumstances defined by the Board of Professional Review (now named Disciplinary and Ethics Commission).

2008: Significant revision of Standards of Professional Conduct takes effect, including fiduciary standard of care for financial planning services.

2009: Robert Fleming, Esq. becomes first non-certificant, “public” member of Disciplinary and Ethics Commission, following best practices for professional review processes in the established professions.

2010: Case Histories – summaries of cases reviewed by the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission – are made available online.

2012: CFP Board adopts Sanction Guidelines to assist the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission in maintaining consistency regarding the imposition of sanctions for similar offenses.

2018: CFP Board adopts a new Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct, effective October 1, 2019, which expands the scope of the fiduciary standard, requiring CFP® professionals to act in the best interest of the client at all times when providing financial advice.

1985: College for Financial Planning continues to administer 6-part serial exam.

1987: Serial exam opened to candidates from schools other than College for Financial Planning.

1989: Board of Examiners begins planning for creation of comprehensive exam.

1991: Comprehensive 10-hour exam is introduced, designed to test the integration and application of the knowledge from the financial planning curriculum, transitioning the exam’s purpose from educational testing to a measure of competence to practice financial planning.

1994: Final phase-out of 6-part serial-format examination for those who began the series in 1991 or earlier.

2014: The CFP® Certification Examination transitions to a computer-based format, with a 1-day, 6-hour exam offered at professional testing centers during multiple-day testing windows.

1989: Experience requirements introduced: three years of personal financial planning-related experience for those who hold a baccalaureate degree, and five years of experience for those without a degree

1999: Work experience requirement revised to include positions of supervision, support and teaching of the personal financial planning process

2007: Bachelor’s degree requirement takes effect; applicants for certification must have a bachelor's degree (or higher), or its equivalent, in any discipline, from an accredited college or university, in addition to three years of personal financial planning-related experience

2012: CFP Board adopts amendments to the experience requirement, effective September 2012, including a 2-year apprenticeship pathway; the requirement that 6 months of experience must have been gained within 12 months of an individual’s reporting of experience to CFP Board is eliminated.