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Mar 11, 2007 4:06 pm

Taking the CFP exam next Friday. When I tell my friends, most respond half jokingly "you mean all this time you're not certified?"


Painful to hear, after all this studying the last 2 month. Does anyone know the % of brokers/advisors who are CFP's?


I would love to be able to respond with "actually its a pretty exclusive designation with only about __% of advisors are CFPs"


Mar 11, 2007 5:56 pm

Your question interested me so I did some Google research and as near as I can tell, there appear to be as many as 20,000 series 7 holders with CFPs out of more than 190,000 series 7 reps, so just a bit over 10% of us series 7 reps have the CFP designation.  There's also in the neighborhood of 50,000 CFPs in the US.  Here are the supporting links...including an excellent article from registered rep:


http://view.fdu.edu/default.aspx?id=3449


http://www.brokerhunter.com/press/pages/wallstreetsept2005.a sp


http://registeredrep.com/mag/financetwo_minds/index.html


...and as a bonus, here's an excellent comparative piece on the CFP vs. the CFA.  I think this should put any question (not that I had any)about which test is hardest, to rest...


http://www.cfainstitute.org/aboutus/investors/pdf/analysisc fa_cfp.pdf


Having passed both the CFP and CPA and spoken with numerous certificants of various types, I'd put the various tests in the following order from easiest to most difficult:


1. Various junk certifications, such as Certified Senior Advisor (CSA).  These aren't worth the paper they are printed on and if a competitor uses it against you, enjoy the laughs.


2.  Series 7 - I scored 241/250 on this - not a tough test if you understand the material and prepare.


3.  CFP (I didn't find this test difficult at all...just long - 10 hours)


4.  Bar exam (people with a law degree and the CPA tell me that hands down the CPA is a harder and longer test)


5.  CPA (although it's apparent from my research that this is an easier test today than I passed in the early 90's - success rate used to be 20%...now it's in the low 40's)


6.  CFA - this is obviously the certification from hell - three nasty tests taking on average 3-4 years to complete - which is why indyone won't waste his time on this one...


There's my nickel...no way you're getting all that effort on Sunday afternoon for two cents...

Mar 11, 2007 9:05 pm

I would love to be able to respond with "actually its a pretty exclusive designation with only about __% of advisors are CFPs" (10% according to Indyone)


  With this line of logic, the CSA is more exclusive because only 3% of advisors have it.  (I made up the %)  We, of course, know that the CSA fits into the "junk designation" category.


The CFP is certainly not a junk designation, but the reason that it's "exclusive" is that many advisors simply don't see the value of getting the designation.  It's a difficult exam but everyone who felt that it was important to their career could pass the exam.  

Mar 11, 2007 10:01 pm

"With this line of logic, the CSA is more exclusive because only 3% of advisors have it."


...I hope not...I told a client who asked, it meant Can't Sell Anything.

Mar 12, 2007 6:51 am

You've also got the industry joke among non-CFP's that the CFP stands for Can't f**king Produce.


(I'm not anti-CFP)

Mar 12, 2007 10:54 am

...I've met several that couldn't...

Mar 12, 2007 12:09 pm
anonymous:

1) The CFP is certainly not a junk designation, but the reason that it's "exclusive" is that many advisors simply don't see the value of getting the designation. 



2) It's a difficult exam but everyone who felt that it was important to their career could pass the exam.  



Answers;


1) Yeah, that's why they haven't earned it...


2)


Anyone who's taken the time and expense involved in pouring thru the prerequisites has already proved they feel it's important, and  in even in that crowd the first time pass rate is 50% or so.


Mar 12, 2007 12:10 pm
anonymous:

You've also got the industry joke among non-CFP's that the CFP stands for Can't f**king Produce.


(I'm not anti-CFP)




And the joke among Series 7 CFPs is the non-CFPs who get all defensive about it really Couldn't F#$%ing Pass.....

Mar 12, 2007 3:14 pm

Mike, I take it that you don't agree with me. 


If I take a guess that of the half that fail the exam, half of these take it until they pass.  This would mean that only 15% of people with the Series 7 have sat for the CFP. 


Why is it that you think that only 10% of series 7 reps have the CFP (or 15% have taken the exam)? 


Personally, I'm sure that there are many reasons, but I also strongly believe that the major reason is the perceived lack of value received for the time spent.


Would I like to have a CFP?  Yes.  Do I think that my time would be better spent pursuing the CFP instead of getting clients or spending the time with my family?  No.

Mar 12, 2007 3:42 pm
anonymous:

Why is it that you think that only 10% of series 7 reps have the CFP (or 15% have taken the exam)? 


Personally, I'm sure that there are many reasons, but I also strongly believe that the major reason is the perceived lack of value received for the time spent.



Perhaps, but the other side of that coin is that in our business we are often cultured not to take the long view but at "what am I being paid NEXT MONTH"...."How much new business is coming in NEXT WEEK...."

And as such, when you look at the investment of time and energy involved in gearing up to take the CFP it doesn't seem worth it in that light.

While perhaps not as challenging as the CFA or CPA exams, the CFP presents a much higher 'barrier to entry' than the Series 7, 66, or 6 or state Life and Health exam.  Many of us have lamented that it is a little too easy to get into this business and that is the source of some of our problems.  So, perhaps some of those folks also choose not to take the exam.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have decided that it will be important to me not only for technical skills but also for bringing in new clients, and I am studying my butt off for the July exam.

I don't expect people to line up at my door the day after I pass the test(and I will), but I do expect to have a much higher level of initial credibility with higher-end prospects if I position myself properly.  I am thinking many of them will be happy to know that I have a certification held by only 1 of 10 advisors they will meet.

In the end the certification does not mean jack if you can't get the job done, though, whether it comes to prospecting, closing, client service, or getting the money invested right.  As a good friend of mine often says in the end it's all about getting ink on paper!

Mar 12, 2007 3:52 pm

Well said on both sides of the issue...it's nice to see a civil debate...

Mar 12, 2007 4:02 pm
Indyone:

Well said on both sides of the issue...it's nice to see a civil debate...



I'll second that.  Funny how that can happen when certain characters are not present and lobbing hand grenades.  And they tried to say that I was a "negative leader".....

Mar 12, 2007 4:45 pm

... but I do expect to have a much higher level of initial credibility with higher-end prospects if I position myself properly...


Joe, I hope that it works out for you in that manner.  I find that it is rare that I get asked about the CFP, but when I do, it is from someone who would be a lower end client.   The subject never seems to come up with my "A" and "B" prospects.


Far and away, the #1 way to build credibility is to get referred.  If you are referred to someone and that person is one that others respect, you will have instant credibility.

Mar 12, 2007 5:44 pm

I'm taking the exam this weekend.  The picture that keeps popping into my head is a sign I saw posted on a dorm room during finals week my freshman year of college "F---, I'm F---ing F---ed."


I took a bar exam with a reputation for being one of the hardest ones in the country, and I thought it was way easier than the CFP.  Of course, when I took the bar I had no family, and took 2 months off of work and school to do nothing but study.  Now I look at my books after the kids go to bed at 9:00, and I study on weekends unless we are traveling to a sporting event for the kids, which is about every weekend.  Not exactly the same study regimen, which is probably why I am a lot less confident than I was taking a bar exam.


I kind of wish I hadn't undertaken this venture, but at this point I have too much invested (time and money) to just walk away, so I will take it Friday and hopefully not be sitting next to Joe in July for my 2nd try. 


Anyone know when they let you know if you pass or fail?


Thanks.

Mar 12, 2007 6:02 pm

The results come out around 6-8 weeks after the test...posted online and they email to let you know when they're posted.


Joe--great post about the designation.  It's scary to me when someone says that getting more professional education is a BAD thing.  If someone doesn't want to bother, that's fine, but seems crazy to think it's not a nice credential to have (all other things being equal).  "Low barrier to entry" is quite an appropriate phrase for those that think it is a waste of time.

Mar 12, 2007 6:26 pm

Cowboy, I've heard plenty of people argue whether a particular DESIGNATION was worthwhile or not.  I've never heard anyone say that more professional EDUCATION was a bad thing.


Mar 12, 2007 8:39 pm
anonymous:

Joe, I hope that it works out for you in that
manner.  I find that it is rare that I get asked about the CFP,
but when I do, it is from someone who would be a lower end
client.   The subject never seems to come up with my "A" and
"B" prospects.





While the people who ask about it tend to be lower end clients. The
skills you gain from it will be useful for higher end clients.

Mar 12, 2007 9:20 pm
anonymous:

Why is it that you think that only 10% of series 7 reps have the CFP (or 15% have taken the exam)?


There's a top 10% in any field, as to why the other 90% can't/don't achieve, well, there's the mystery.



anonymous:

Personally, I'm sure that there are many reasons, but I also strongly believe that the major reason is the perceived lack of value received for the time spent.


If you say so. I strongly believe it's because they lack the drive and ambition (and perhaps the funds) to make it happen. When we’re talking about a specific advisor who has nothing but dismissive talk for the CFP and claims they haven’t done it because it isn’t worth their time, I’m convinced of it.



anonymous:

Would I like to have a CFP? Yes. Do I think that my time would be better spent pursuing the CFP instead of getting clients or spending the time with my family? No.




Better time management and you can do all of the above. In the mean time, trying to belittle what you can't manage to get yourself to work for is what you're left with....

Mar 12, 2007 9:21 pm
anonymous:

  I find that it is rare that I get asked about the CFP....


Most likely it's because people who seek an advisor with that proven skill set simply don't talk to people without it.

Mar 12, 2007 10:07 pm

 Way to go, Joe. Good luck on the exam in July.