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2021 Practice Analysis

2021 Practice Analysis: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Answers to frequently asked questions, including the impact on the CFP® exam and other information for candidates, CFP® professionals, Registered Programs and CE Sponsors.

Why does CFP Board conduct a Practice Analysis Study?
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  • The Practice Analysis Study is an essential part of CFP Board’s work to maintain the relevance of CFP® certification and ensure that it reflects current practice.
  • The findings of this major research project establish our Principal Knowledge Topics, which are the topics addressed in the curriculum for our Registered Programs, covered in the CFP® exam, and accepted for Continuing Education (CE) credit.
  • As in past Practice Analysis Studies, a major component was research with our CFP® professionals to examine the tasks and knowledge that financial planners use in the practice of financial planning.
  • The study also incorporated broad-based input from CFP Board-registered academic programs and subject-matter experts who worked to consider practice and emerging trends in financial planning.
  • For the first time, our latest Practice Analysis Study included research with firms that hire CFP® professionals and with clients of CFP® professionals.
  • In addition to resulting in an updated list of Principal Knowledge Topics, this latest Practice Analysis Study included development of our first Competency Framework that describes the attributes, aptitudes, and skills that financial planners need to succeed now and in the future.
  • The latest Practice Analysis Study resulted in an updated list of Principal Knowledge Topics, an updated CFP® exam blueprint, and our first Competency Framework.
  • The updated Principal Knowledge Topics include a number of changes.
  • In addition to secondary changes to individual topics from the prior list and the combination of some topics from the prior list, the Principal Knowledge Topics include two primary changes:
  1. The topics in the Education Planning domain have been incorporated into the General Principles of Financial Planning domain.
  2. A new Principal Knowledge Topic domain has been added: Psychology of Financial Planning.
  • The CFP® exam blueprint addresses the main topics covered in the exam and assigns a percentage of the exam to each Principal Knowledge Topic domain. The percentages have changed slightly from the previous exam blueprint.
  • The new Competency Framework identifies attributes (knowledge, skills, and abilities) that enable CFP® professionals to achieve high performance.
  • The major changes to the Principal Knowledge Topics are as follows:
  1. Topics in the Education Planning Principal Knowledge Domain have been incorporated into the General Principles of Financial Planning domain.
  2. A new Principal Knowledge Topic Domain has been added: Psychology of Financial Planning.
  • CFP Board has provided a side-by-side comparison of the updated Principal Knowledge Topics to highlight all the changes.
  • The Psychology of Financial Planning is a new Principal Knowledge Domain that expands on former General Principles of Financial Planning concepts related to client and planner attitudes, values, biases and behavioral finance.
  • Psychology of Financial Planning topics include:
    • Client and planner attitudes, values, biases
    • Behavioral finances
    • Sources of money conflict
    • Principles of counseling
    • General principles of effective communication
    • Crisis events with severe consequences
  • The Psychology of Financial Planning is an important new Principal Knowledge Domain with room for development in both theory and practice.
How does the updated CFP® exam blueprint impact individuals taking the exam?
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  • Individuals taking the CFP® exam in July and November 2021 will not be impacted by the new CFP® exam blueprint.
  • Beginning in March 2022, the CFP® exam will be aligned with questions that address the new topics in the updated Principal Knowledge Topics – including the new Principal Knowledge Topic category, Psychology of Financial Planning.
  • CFP Board Registered Programs will revise their curricula to incorporate the updated Principal Knowledge Topics in 2021.
  • A key part of developing a CFP® exam strategy is to understand the resources available that can support a successful study plan. Visit CFP.net for helpful resources including an exam candidate handbook, checklists, toolkits and practice exams to assist in preparing for the CFP® exam.
  • Review courses and their providers are not endorsed or regulated by CFP Board. Candidates should contact their review course provider to ensure that review material is updated to reflect blueprint changes.
  • There is no grace period for candidates to take the exam under the old blueprint.
  • All candidates will be required to take the exam with the updated exam blueprint starting in March 2022.
  • CFP Board’s practice exams are being reviewed. We will provide more information to candidates when more information is available on new or updated practice exams for March 2022 and beyond.
  • The practice exams will still reflect the current blueprint through the July and November 2021 exams.
How does the updated Principal Knowledge Topics list impact current CFP® professionals?
Toggle Open
  • The updated Principal Knowledge Topics do not change the requirements for holding or renewing CFP® certification.
  • However, the new topics in the updated Principal Knowledge Topics — including the new Psychology of Financial Planning category — introduce new areas that CFP Board will accept for CE credit.
How does the updated Principal Knowledge Topics list impact educators?
Toggle Open
  • CFP Board Registered Programs and CE Sponsors should begin incorporating the new Principal Knowledge Topics into their curriculum and programs at their earliest convenience.
  • To assist educators in incorporating the updated Principal Knowledge Topics into their curriculum and programs, CFP Board has developed updated Learning Objectives.
  • CFP Board has also provided a side-by-side comparison of the updated Principal Knowledge Topics that highlight specific changes.
  • Effective immediately, CFP Board will begin to grant CE credit for programs that address the new topics in the updated Principal Knowledge Topics.

The new topics can be added to existing courses or used to design a new course. The program registration criteria for program length requirements (minimum 18 credit hours or 270 contact hours) has not changed. Program directors and faculty should review the Learning Objectives document thoroughly to ensure that new and existing topics are being covered sufficiently.

Registered programs are strongly encouraged to directly incorporate the Principal Knowledge Topics and/or Learning Objectives in course syllabi. This includes but is not limited to citing the topics in the course description, calendar, readings/assignments, list of topics covered, or addendum to the syllabus.

When outlining the Principal Knowledge Topics covered in a course, you may consider also providing the link to CFP.net/principaltopics for additional clarity around what students will learn within your program and be assessed on during the exam.

On April 7, 2021, CFP Board CEO, Kevin Keller, CAE, and Managing Director of Professional Practice, John Loper, CFP®, hosted a webinar discussing the 2021 Principal Knowledge Topics (to be covered on the CFP® exam starting March 2022), their implications for your CFP Board Registered Program’s curriculum, and answered your questions.

The recorded webinar can be viewed here. Audio begins at 0:28.

All CFP Board Registered Programs are encouraged to view the webinar and share it with any faculty, administrators, and other colleagues involved with the registered program.

General
Why does CFP Board conduct a Practice Analysis Study?
Toggle Open
  • The Practice Analysis Study is an essential part of CFP Board’s work to maintain the relevance of CFP® certification and ensure that it reflects current practice.
  • The findings of this major research project establish our Principal Knowledge Topics, which are the topics addressed in the curriculum for our Registered Programs, covered in the CFP® exam, and accepted for Continuing Education (CE) credit.
  • As in past Practice Analysis Studies, a major component was research with our CFP® professionals to examine the tasks and knowledge that financial planners use in the practice of financial planning.
  • The study also incorporated broad-based input from CFP Board-registered academic programs and subject-matter experts who worked to consider practice and emerging trends in financial planning.
  • For the first time, our latest Practice Analysis Study included research with firms that hire CFP® professionals and with clients of CFP® professionals.
  • In addition to resulting in an updated list of Principal Knowledge Topics, this latest Practice Analysis Study included development of our first Competency Framework that describes the attributes, aptitudes, and skills that financial planners need to succeed now and in the future.
  • The latest Practice Analysis Study resulted in an updated list of Principal Knowledge Topics, an updated CFP® exam blueprint, and our first Competency Framework.
  • The updated Principal Knowledge Topics include a number of changes.
  • In addition to secondary changes to individual topics from the prior list and the combination of some topics from the prior list, the Principal Knowledge Topics include two primary changes:
  1. The topics in the Education Planning domain have been incorporated into the General Principles of Financial Planning domain.
  2. A new Principal Knowledge Topic domain has been added: Psychology of Financial Planning.
  • The CFP® exam blueprint addresses the main topics covered in the exam and assigns a percentage of the exam to each Principal Knowledge Topic domain. The percentages have changed slightly from the previous exam blueprint.
  • The new Competency Framework identifies attributes (knowledge, skills, and abilities) that enable CFP® professionals to achieve high performance.
  • The major changes to the Principal Knowledge Topics are as follows:
  1. Topics in the Education Planning Principal Knowledge Domain have been incorporated into the General Principles of Financial Planning domain.
  2. A new Principal Knowledge Topic Domain has been added: Psychology of Financial Planning.
  • CFP Board has provided a side-by-side comparison of the updated Principal Knowledge Topics to highlight all the changes.
  • The Psychology of Financial Planning is a new Principal Knowledge Domain that expands on former General Principles of Financial Planning concepts related to client and planner attitudes, values, biases and behavioral finance.
  • Psychology of Financial Planning topics include:
    • Client and planner attitudes, values, biases
    • Behavioral finances
    • Sources of money conflict
    • Principles of counseling
    • General principles of effective communication
    • Crisis events with severe consequences
  • The Psychology of Financial Planning is an important new Principal Knowledge Domain with room for development in both theory and practice.
Candidates
How does the updated CFP® exam blueprint impact individuals taking the exam?
Toggle Open
  • Individuals taking the CFP® exam in July and November 2021 will not be impacted by the new CFP® exam blueprint.
  • Beginning in March 2022, the CFP® exam will be aligned with questions that address the new topics in the updated Principal Knowledge Topics – including the new Principal Knowledge Topic category, Psychology of Financial Planning.
  • CFP Board Registered Programs will revise their curricula to incorporate the updated Principal Knowledge Topics in 2021.
  • A key part of developing a CFP® exam strategy is to understand the resources available that can support a successful study plan. Visit CFP.net for helpful resources including an exam candidate handbook, checklists, toolkits and practice exams to assist in preparing for the CFP® exam.
  • Review courses and their providers are not endorsed or regulated by CFP Board. Candidates should contact their review course provider to ensure that review material is updated to reflect blueprint changes.
  • There is no grace period for candidates to take the exam under the old blueprint.
  • All candidates will be required to take the exam with the updated exam blueprint starting in March 2022.
  • CFP Board’s practice exams are being reviewed. We will provide more information to candidates when more information is available on new or updated practice exams for March 2022 and beyond.
  • The practice exams will still reflect the current blueprint through the July and November 2021 exams.
CFP® Professionals
How does the updated Principal Knowledge Topics list impact current CFP® professionals?
Toggle Open
  • The updated Principal Knowledge Topics do not change the requirements for holding or renewing CFP® certification.
  • However, the new topics in the updated Principal Knowledge Topics — including the new Psychology of Financial Planning category — introduce new areas that CFP Board will accept for CE credit.
Registered Programs and CE Sponsors
How does the updated Principal Knowledge Topics list impact educators?
Toggle Open
  • CFP Board Registered Programs and CE Sponsors should begin incorporating the new Principal Knowledge Topics into their curriculum and programs at their earliest convenience.
  • To assist educators in incorporating the updated Principal Knowledge Topics into their curriculum and programs, CFP Board has developed updated Learning Objectives.
  • CFP Board has also provided a side-by-side comparison of the updated Principal Knowledge Topics that highlight specific changes.
  • Effective immediately, CFP Board will begin to grant CE credit for programs that address the new topics in the updated Principal Knowledge Topics.

The new topics can be added to existing courses or used to design a new course. The program registration criteria for program length requirements (minimum 18 credit hours or 270 contact hours) has not changed. Program directors and faculty should review the Learning Objectives document thoroughly to ensure that new and existing topics are being covered sufficiently.

Registered programs are strongly encouraged to directly incorporate the Principal Knowledge Topics and/or Learning Objectives in course syllabi. This includes but is not limited to citing the topics in the course description, calendar, readings/assignments, list of topics covered, or addendum to the syllabus.

When outlining the Principal Knowledge Topics covered in a course, you may consider also providing the link to CFP.net/principaltopics for additional clarity around what students will learn within your program and be assessed on during the exam.

On April 7, 2021, CFP Board CEO, Kevin Keller, CAE, and Managing Director of Professional Practice, John Loper, CFP®, hosted a webinar discussing the 2021 Principal Knowledge Topics (to be covered on the CFP® exam starting March 2022), their implications for your CFP Board Registered Program’s curriculum, and answered your questions.

The recorded webinar can be viewed here. Audio begins at 0:28.

All CFP Board Registered Programs are encouraged to view the webinar and share it with any faculty, administrators, and other colleagues involved with the registered program.

Questions?

If you have additional questions about the 2021 Practice Analysis Study, contact CFP Board’s Examinations staff at examinations@cfpboard.org or call 202-379-2200.

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