July 11, 2008, 6:00 am

How to Become a Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Financial Planning
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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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FB, I would be interested in reading more about what you’ve learned about estate planning. That’s a topic that always intrigues me.

by: The Financial Blogger | July 11th, 2008 (8:11 am)

I’ll add that to my potential topic ;-D
In fact, there is a lot to discuss 😉

by: Charles Martineau | July 11th, 2008 (11:34 am)

FB, can you tell me which university in montreal offers this one year course? Thanks

by: The Financial Blogger | July 11th, 2008 (11:46 am)

Hey Charles,
there are HEC Montreal, Uqam or you can do it with the ICB (Institute of Canadian Banker):

email me at thefinancialblogger@gmail.com if you have any other question.



Any professional certification is going to be a challenge. I took a series of CGA exams and the capstone certification exam and it was comprehensive very difficult. Many people write several times before passing.

The thing about being an accountant though is that you can challenge the CFP exam.

Dearn FB,
I’m currently a 2nd year student at University of Toronto pursuing a BA degree, i would like to become a CFP in the future, and am wondering if you could give me any insights as to how i can approach that path. Should i continue my study at U of T, or should i simply enrol in the one-year certificate course as you suggested?
Also, what is the difference between CFP and CFA ? Thank you for your time.

by: The Financial Blogger | August 24th, 2008 (10:19 pm)

Hey FM,
In Quebec, a Bachelor degree including a certificate in financial planning is required. However, the CFP title is different (you know, everything has to be different in my province ;-)).
You can find more information on the official CFP site:

You can find the requirements at http://www.fpsccanada.org/students/cfp_exam_qualifying

CFP and CFA are 2 differents things. Since you are not the first one to ask this question, I’ll write a full post about it.



[…] my post on how to become a CFP, I received the same question from several readers through emails or comments. They all wanted to […]

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by: Financial Planner | December 23rd, 2008 (12:38 pm)

The fasted and easiest way to obtain the CFP is the route that I took. Through CSI, you can do the CSC (Canadian Securities Course) and PFP (Personal Financial Planner) and get advance standing to challenge the CFP.

It took me 6 weeks to complete the CSC and PFP. The total cost to do the courses is around $1700. I prepared for the CFP for a couple weeks and challenged the first available exam. In total, it took me approx. 2 months of actual work (1 hour per day for 60 days) to obtain all three credentials. In the process of preparing for the CFP, I also completed the WMT (Wealth Management Techniques) course and obtained the FMA (Financial Managment Advisor) designation in the process.

I guess it’s also important to note that when I started this process, I already had completed the IFIC (mutual funds license) and the LLQP (life insurance license), which were important in being able to complete everything else as quickly as I did.

I am in process of immigration to Canada.

Can anybody please tell me I am Certified Financial Consultant.

What is the market of this certification in Canada.

Will I be able to get a job with this or not???

For your reference am MBA with Finance and Accounting Specialization.


by: The Financial Blogger | June 9th, 2009 (5:43 am)

Hello Abi,

in Canada, we have CFP (Certified Financial Planner) or in Quebec only (Pl. Fin (for Financial Planner which is an official title)).

However, we don’t have the CFC mention. You will have to request an equivalent to the CFP to be able to use your title.

The market for CFP is huge right now as financial institutions need more competent planner. So if you can get your equivalent, you will be able to get a job in no time. The thing is that you will probably have to “do your class” with smaller client first and then, you can go up.

MBA in finance is great too 😉 I am sure you won’t have any problem finding a job 😀

Good luck!

Hi, I would like to immigrate to Canada, thus I am planning to start the Financial Analyst post-graduate program at George Brown College in Toronto by January. Does anybody have any references about this college and this program which prepares you for the CFP designation?. Which is the probability of landing in a decent job if you get this designation and also have a good command of other languages like spanish, portuguese and French and previous experience in the financial area outside Canada. How much is the average salary for an entry level position in this field?.

Thanks for your advices guys.

Hi, I am currently looking at studing financial planning as I have been speaking to a lot of people that have suggested it as it suits me to the T. I would just like to know what would be the best qualification to pursue with regards to a certificate or degree. Additionally if there is any other info that you feel I should need to know please don’t hesitate to let me know.


by: The Financial Blogger | February 13th, 2012 (7:43 pm)

Hey Claire,

it depends where you live (certifications are different from one country to another). can you tell me where you want to work?

Here is a question I haven’t been able to find an answer to. I know that by becoming a CFP in Canada, if one were to move to the USA (or any other country that is a member of the Financial Planning Standards Board), he/she would need to become accredited in the USA.

But what’s the process then? Would I have to start from scratch and do the USA core curriculum? Or would I be given advanced standing to write the certification exam?

Thanks in advance.


by: The Financial Blogger | August 10th, 2012 (2:14 pm)

Hey James,

if I compare the CFP in Canada to Quebec, they ask to pass the CFP exam to get the certification. I would guess it’s a similar process in the US but I’m not sure. Taxation rules and insurance/debt/finance products are way different in the states. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to do the courses again to make sure you know everything there is to know about financial planning.

Hi ,

I completed MBA program in Canada. Now I am thinking to get one of the designations like CFP. I am wondering if someone knows about the procedures and to become a CFP. I already searched in CSI website. Is there any other institute like CSI in Canada to enroll on that?

Thanks in advance,


Here is my current situation:
I will finish my degree in Financial Services from the University of Laval in Quebec City, in May.
I had my license as financial security advisor for 3 years, but I decided not to renew this year because I moved to Ontario and I do not think it would be useful.
Currently, I do not have a job in the field of financial services.

Here are my questions:
Will my degree in Financial Services in Quebec City be recognized in Ontario or I have other course to do ?
Is it useful to do my license in Quebec as a financial planner?
Will they be recognized in Ontario?
If so, who do I contact for procedures?

If not, what should I do, my CFP, PFP or other?
What are the differences between all these titles?

Finally, I have to wait to find a job before the steps?

Sorry for all these questions, but I’m a little lost since I moved to Ontario and I do not know where to find my answers.

Thank you for helping me.


by: The Financial Blogger | March 15th, 2013 (2:24 pm)

Hey Elsa,

Thx for stopping by!

first, licenses (insurance, mutual funds or financial planner) are not the same in Qc and Ontario. You will have to do additional exams to get your title. So there is no need to complete them in quebec if you want to stay in Ontario.

I’m not quite sure about the difference between PFP and CFP. However, I’ve seen the CFP mention more often. You can find an entry level job in a bank with your current diploma and get your license after. I strongly suggest you get your CFP license if you want to make a career in financial services 🙂

Thank you for your quick response, I really appreciate!

So, is the CSI (Canadian Securities Institute) is responsible for issuing CFP certificates ?


I believe so!

Hey. I am finishing up a Diploma in Finance at McGill and then doing their Certificate in Financial Planning degree. Do I need to enrol in the CSI Pl. fin. certification program too? As I understand it I can write the IQPF exam after I’m done my certificate at McGill and the CSI training courses would be extra and sort of redundant. Thanks

by: The Financial Blogger | October 24th, 2013 (4:21 am)

Hello Adam,

Once you have completed a certificate in financial planning, you can write the IQPF. The CSI Pl Fin certification is the equivalent of the Certificate. Therefore, you don’t need to do both.



by: Alexander B Grieve | December 21st, 2016 (12:13 am)

Hi there,
I am earning a masters degree in Financial Planning from a credited school in Boston. After I graduate i plan on earning my CFP designation and working for a few years in the States.

I am from Canada, and plan on moving back to Alberta at some point in the future. Will i need to write the CFP again to be recognized in Canada? or will it transfer over. Thank you

by: The Financial Blogger | December 27th, 2016 (12:31 pm)

Hello Alexander,

I’m not sure the CFP title will be recognized in Canada, you might want to ask the assocation if they would accept it. I know the PFP title in Quebec is only good for this province and not for the rest of Canada…