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News Release

Results of New Practice Analysis Study to Shape CFP Board’s Certification Requirements

Updated Principal Knowledge Topics Will Be Assessed Beginning with the March 2022 CFP® Exam

March 30, 2021

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) today announced an updated Principal Knowledge Topics list based on findings from its latest Practice Analysis Study – the largest research project in the U.S. related to the body of knowledge for financial planning. The updated topics will be integrated in the education requirements for CFP® certification and assessed on the CFP® exam starting in March 2022.

“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 the current practice of financial planning,” said CFP Board CEO Kevin R. Keller, CAE. “For the first time, our Practice Analysis Study included research with firms that hire CFP® professionals as well as clients of CFP® professionals. Adding that research to the traditional research with CFP® professionals and financial planning educators provided a 360-degree view of financial planning practice.”

The findings of this major research project establish CFP Board’s Principal Knowledge Topics, which are the topics covered by CFP Board Registered Programs, assessed on the CFP® exam and accepted for Continuing Education (CE) credit. CFP Board’s last Practice Analysis Study was completed in 2015.

Major changes in the 2021 Principal Knowledge Topics list include:

  • A new category called the Psychology of Financial Planning.
  • The consolidation of the prior Education Planning category and underlying topics within the General Financial Planning Principles category

Review a side-by-side comparison of the 2015 and 2021 Principal Knowledge Topics.

CFP Board’s latest Practice Analysis Study also included the development of the first Financial Planning Competency Framework, which outlines the attributes and behaviors CFP® professionals need to serve today’s financial planning clients and remain competitive.

CFP Board Registered Programs will begin to revise their curricula to incorporate the updated Principal Knowledge Topics in 2021, in preparation for new topic coverage on the March 2022 CFP® exam.

Individuals taking the CFP® exam in July 2021 and November 2021 will not be impacted by the updated list of Principal Knowledge Topics.

Effective immediately, CFP Board will begin to grant CE credit for programs that address the new topics in the updated Principal Knowledge Topics.

About CFP Board

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. is the professional body for personal financial planners in the U.S. CFP Board sets standards for financial planning and administers the prestigious CFP® certification – one of the most respected certifications in financial services – so that the public has access to and benefits from competent and ethical financial planning. CFP Board, along with its Center for Financial Planning, is committed to increasing the public’s awareness of CFP® certification and access to a diverse, ethical and competent financial planning workforce. Widely recognized by firms and consumer groups as the standard for financial planning, CFP® certification is held by more than 90,000 people in the United States.


John Pappas
Director of External Communications