Most people are familiar with acronyms like CEO or CPA, but what about CFP®? CFP® stands for Certified Financial Planner. This unique certification is earned only by professionals who have attained a standard of excellence in financial planning by meeting education, experience and ethical standards. Marci Bair, President of Bair Financial Planning, has been a CFP® since 1999. Here she shares five reasons you might consider working with one:
CFP®s Are Uniquely Qualified
CFP® professionals must complete training through University-level coursework in these major personal financial planning areas: Professional Conduct and Regulation, General Principles of Financial Planning, Education Planning, Risk Management and Insurance Planning, Investment Planning, Tax Planning, Retirement Savings and Income Planning, Estate Planning, Financial Plan Development. In addition to this comprehensive education, a CFP® professional must pass a 2-day exam and accrue over 6,000 hours of experience in order to become certified and use the CFP® marks. This is no easy task to accomplish, but it provides a solid foundation for education, growth and success on behalf of their clients.
“I initially wanted to become a CFP® because I was on the younger side, 25, when I started my business. I needed the education as well as the credentials,” Marci explains. “But I quickly discovered how much more educated and equipped the process made me. As noted above, CFP® professionals go through hours of high level coursework. This depth of education, along with completing hundreds of financial plans over the past 29 years, has enabled us to provide a more experienced and knowledgeable advice for our clients.”
CFP®s Think Holistically
A Certified Financial Planner can help you look at the entirety of your financial situation, which is a pivotal first step towards achieving financial freedom. Their job is to look at the client as a whole person and objectively assess their situation to see what is best for the client.
“At Bair Financial Planning, we like to say ‘Come with a goal and leave with a plan,” says Marci. “We take our clients through a refined 7-step process that helps them identify their personal and financial goals. Then we build a personalized plan to help manage those objectives.”
CFP®s Put You First
“One of the most important things that sets CFP®s apart is that we must act as an investment fiduciary, which is really just a fancy way of saying we are required to act in the best interest of the client. You would think this should be the standard of care for all financial professionals, but unfortunately that is not the case” explains Marci. “I really enjoy the independence we have with our Firm. We work for our clients, not for a company that is pushing a certain product. We don’t have quotas to sell certain insurance or investment products like a lot of advisors have. We feel this allows us to be objective and provide our clients with advice that is customized for them, which leads to a higher quality of care and advice for our clients.”
CFP®s Provide Confidence
Because CFP® professionals must act in the best interest of the client, a level of qualification inherently comes with the certification. This can be especially helpful for clients who need and want a deeper relationship with their financial planner. “It’s really important that we create a safe space for people to come and let their guard down,” explains Marci. “Talking about money can be hard, so it’s vital that we provide a safe environment where clients can bring their spouse or partner into the conversation, and not feel judged or uncomfortable. We want our clients to share what’s keeping them up at night so we can work together to form a plan that will address their concerns.”
CFP®s Are Held to a Higher Standard
“CFP® professionals commit to following a code of ethics and standards set and enforced by the CFP Board. We can receive sanctions for not following them or risk losing our certification,” explains Marci.
“Our goal is to be independent and objective, and the fiduciary and ethical standards play a big role in that. We love it when clients leave our office more confident, with a plan to take control of their future. We like to see people’s demeanor and posture change over the course of meeting with us. Their shoulders relax and they smile more and leave our meeting excited about their future. That’s when we know we are doing our job well.