As you may already know, I just wrote my CFP exam at the end of June. So if everything went well, I should get my Certified Financial Planner title at the beginning of September. Yep, they are taking two months to give out marks. I thought it would be a good idea to tell you what is required to have this title so you can recognize the work behind a good financial advisor. In my quest to become an excellent financial consultant, I think that having this title is one of the very first steps.
Before I get into the details, I have to tell you that rules to become a financial planner are different in Quebec than in the rest of North America. While I don’t really know what the equivalent in the states is, I know for a fact that it is much easier to get in in the rest of Canada. Our province decided to establish a higher standing for this profession and make less than 300 financial planners in the Montreal area per year.
University degree required
The first step is to get a University certificate in personal financial planning. This is basically a one year program where you touch the 7 field of financial planning (which will be described in another post). Those classes are very practical as you need to master technical skills in order to do a proper financial plan for your clients.
The good thing about certificates is that most classes are offered in evenings or weekend. I did mine at distance without having to drive to school exam to write my exams. I took me a year an half to complete it while I was working full time.
I personally have bachelor degree in Finance-Marketing and then, I did my certificate in financial planning. It was a longer way to become a financial planner but I didn’t expect to become one when I started University.
A final exam before your get your title
Once you have completed your certificates, you need to write a final exam. This test is created by the Financial Planning Institution of Quebec. It’s a 4 hours exam where you have about 20 multiple choices questions and a 15-20 pages case.
You basically have a real case study where you need to determine the client’s goals, write down their balance sheet, analyze their situation and write recommendations along the way. You basically have to write 20 pages of stuff within 4 hours. In fact, they designed the exam in a way that you can’t finish the case within that time frame.
There are about 60% of people writing the exam who get their title the first time. The global average is always around 65% with a 40% fail rate. While it is nothing compared to a CFA exam, those stats have nothing encouraging either!
Financial planning is about getting general knowledge of insurance, legal aspects, personal finance, taxation, investment, retirement planning and estate planning. So you obviously don’t become an expert in all those fields, however, you get a clear idea of what can or cannot be done in a specific situation.
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