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CFP board mulls work experience requirements

The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards is proposing changes to the rules governing the experience that planners need before qualifying for the CFP mark, and one change would make life a bit easier for applicants struggling with unemployment.

The board announced yesterday that it was seeking comment on the changes, which it hopes to approve in November. Among the changes:

• The requirement that an applicant have at least three years of experience would be reduced to just two years, if the applicant is someone who personally delivers financial planning services to clients. Those who work as supervisors in the field, teach or perform direct support still need three years of experience.

• The qualifying window of experience, currently 10 years before passing the CFP exam or five years after passing the exam, would be narrowed to five years before and five years after.

• The requirement that applicants have work experience within six months of applying for the certification would be eliminated.

It’s the latter that would help applicants between jobs. Michele Warholic, managing director for examination, education and human capital at CFP, said some advisors had met the work experience requirement years earlier but were laid off after the 2008 crash. Some later studied for the test and passed it, but under current rules they would still be barred from certification if they hadn’t worked in the field within the six-month period before applying.

The 30-day public comment period on the rule changes ends Sept. 17. The board also is proposing some changes in its disciplinary procedures, most of which fine-tune the legal wording of policies. Perhaps the biggest change would allow the board to impose automatic interim suspensions of CFP certificants accused of misconduct. It currently takes two months to do that.

Other changes are coming for people who want the CFP mark. Applicants for the CFP exam will have to complete a 45-hour capstone course, in addition to 225 hours of other educational programs, if they start their course of study after the beginning of 2012.

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