Earning Continuing Education (CE) Credits for the CFP Program

Continuing Education (CE) is an integral part of being a Certified Financial Planner or CFP. A certificate holder is required to report 30 hours of CE credits in each reporting period. This period includes two years ending with the last day of certificant’s renewal month. Credits must be earned from programs that cover the financial planning topics in the CFP Board’s Principal topic list. Two of the 30 hours must be earned from a pre-approved CFP Board Standards of Professional Conduct program. The other 28 hours may be earned in one or more of the accepted topics. The two credits are mandatory, so that CFPs may stay clued about the Standards of Professional Conduct.

The CFP’s continuing credits can be earned from seminars, classes, webcasts, online or other self-study courses, in-house training programs, meetings, tapes, teaching and authoring publications.

Informal discussion groups and programs in which the subject content pertains to public accounting, computer hardware and software, marketing, practice management, sales, specific company or product presentations, or any other topic not included in the CFP Boards Principal list will not be considered as Continuing Education Credits. The CE requirement is effective immediately upon initial certification.

Program Requirements: CE hours must be earned during the current reporting period. Any extra CE hours in excess of the requirement cannot be moved to subsequent reporting periods. Neither can the CE hours earned for any one program be split between two reporting periods. CE hours earned from CFP Board registered programs will be reported by the sponsor. Non-CFP board  programs can be reported online after paying a $20 processing fee for review, which will be $25 starting May 2012.

CFP® certificants should attempt CE from the CFP Boards Principal List. (http://www.cfp.net/downloads/CFPBoard\_Exam\_Principal\_Topics.pdf)

The CE credits must help increase the CFP’s professional competency and should be atleast 50 minutes in length. It is important that the course be developed and conducted by persons qualified in the subject matter and in instructional design. The CFP Board has a list of certified sponsors on their website for Continuing Education credits.

Credits for Live Presentations

Programs are accepted for CE credit in an initial unit of at least one hour (minimum of 50 minutes constitutes one class hour), with half credit accepted after the initial one hour has been satisfied. For example, a 75-minute program equals 1.5 credits. Partial credit may be claimed for those portions of programs that cover material from the accepted subject topics. For example, three hours of CE credit may be claimed for a six-hour program that covers accepted topics during only half of the program. Real-time courses offered over the Internet, i.e., live webcasts, are accepted for CE credit.

Courses offered by colleges and universities (including community colleges) that are covered by the CFP Board’s principal list are accepted. The basis for 1 semester credit = 15 CE hours (3 semester credits = 45 CE hours), while a quarter credit = 10 CE hours (3 quarter credits = 30 CE hours). Both credit and non-credit courses will be accepted. For non-credit courses, each 50-minute class session may be counted as one CE hour.

Programs provided by state and local bar associations, Certified Public Accountant societies, Financial Planning Association chapters, Society of Financial Service Professionals chapters, Association for Investment Management and Research chapters and estate planning councils will be accepted for CE credits, provided topics covered are listed in the CFP Board’s Principal Topic List.

Credit for Self-Study Programs Courses completed outside of the class-room environment are defined as self- study programs. This could be achieved using printed material, periodicals, audio and/or video cassettes, electronic media or online media. To achieve satisfactory completion, the program must include a written or online examination, which shall be graded by the sponsor, with a passing score of 70 percent or higher. The Standards of Professional Conduct programs must have a passing score of 80 percent or higher. Credit for self-study programs is determined based on the recommended hours of completion time as determined by the CE sponsor.

Credit for Completing Professional Licenses and Designation Examinations Successfully completing the examinations for certain professional license or designation during the reporting period qualifies for CE hours. CE hours are granted for the licensing/designation exam, not for the preparatory or review courses. (http://www.cfp.net/downloads/RenewalCEBooklet\_professional.pdf)

Credit for Teaching Teaching Credits can be availed by the certificant as an instructor, discussion leader or speaker as long as topics are covered in the CFP Boards Principal List. This could cover:

  • Meetings or engagements that are directed to financial services professionals
  • The first presentation only per CE reporting period on the basis of two CE credits for each hour of class or presentation time. For example, an instructor may claim four hours for teaching a two-hour class.
  • Teaching in a CFP Board-Registered Program and for teaching other university courses

The credits earned in this manner may not exceed 50 percent of the total CE hours required during any reporting period. For example, if total hours required are 30, a maximum of 15 teaching hours may be claimed. The credits are not accepted for presentations designed primarily for persons not engaged in financial services (e.g., presentations to the general public, presentations for marketing purposes, television and radio talk shows, and participation in high school programs).

Credit may be allowed for authorship of published articles and books relating to CFP Board's Principal Topics list provided they contribute to increasing the professional competency of the author. Credit for preparation of such publications may not exceed 50 percent of the total CE hours required during any reporting period. Short newspaper articles, Q&As and company newsletter articles for clients are not accepted for credit.

Published articles and books (both print and electronic) must be submitted to CFP Board for review prior to reporting them as CE credit on the CE reporting form.

Published articles and books submitted to CFP Board must:

  • Include the date, publication and number of CE hours requested.
  • Include copies of articles as published.
  • Show the CFP® certificant as the author of the publication.

CFP Board will confirm receipt of the publication(s) and the number of credits granted within 30 days of receipt. The publication will not be returned to the CFP® certificant unless specifically requested.

Reporting and Recordkeeping of CE hours

CE hours may be reported electronically to CFP Board at any time by CE sponsors or by CFP® certificants. CE hours must be submitted to CFP Board by the end of the CE reporting period, along with the other renewal requirements. The CE reporting period is the same as a CFP® certificant's certification period. Each CFP® certificant is responsible for demonstrating full compliance with the CE requirement. CFP Board may at any time request documentation of any CE credits self-reported by the certificant.

Unsupported, misstated or fraudulent reporting of CE credits is a violation of CFP Board's Rules of Conduct. This can result in disciplinary action up to revocation of the CFP® certification. Failure to fulfill and report the required CE hours by the end of the CE reporting period will result in non-renewal of the CFP® certification, precluding any use of the CFP® marks. If all CE hours, including the two-hour Standards of Professional Conduct program, are reported electronically by CE sponsors, no further action is required.


CFP Board conducts random audits of self-reported CE hours for the most recent reporting period. When audited:

  • The CFP® certificant is notified of the audit and asked to send documentation of hours that were reported manually to CFP Board.
  • The reported CE hours and any supporting documentation are reviewed by CFP Board, and a determination is made as to whether the hours are accepted or denied.
  • The certificant receives confirmation from CFP Board regarding the audit and any further action needed.

If any CE hours are denied during the audit and a deficiency results, the certificant will be given 90 days to report additional hours to cure the deficiency. Additional hours must be reported electronically by a CE sponsor or listed on a signed CE reporting form and submitted to CFP Board with supporting documentation. The certificant will remain authorized to use the CFP® marks during this 90-day period.

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