Top 10 Financial Planning Analyst Certifications

This article provides an overview of the best analyst certifications available for those interested in financial planning.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 18 min read

Certifications are essential for financial planning analysts in the job market. Employers want to hire qualified professionals who can provide quality advice, and certifications demonstrate that a financial planning analyst has the knowledge and experience needed to do so. Certifications also indicate that the analyst is up-to-date on the latest regulations and trends in the industry. Furthermore, certifications enable financial planning analysts to stand out from their peers, as most employers prefer to hire those with certifications over those without them. Finally, certifications can open up career opportunities and help financial planning analysts advance their professional development.

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the most beneficial certifications for Financial Planning Analysts and how they can help advance their career.

What are Financial Planning Analyst Certifications?

Financial planning analyst certification is a professional designation awarded to individuals who have successfully demonstrated their knowledge and skills in the areas of financial planning, estate planning, and investment analysis. The certification is offered by the Financial Planning Association (FPA), and it requires that candidates pass an exam that covers topics such as taxation, retirement planning, insurance, investments, budgeting, and estate planning.

Having this certification can be beneficial to those working in the field of finance or those looking to enter into the field. It shows potential employers that you are knowledgeable in all aspects of financial planning and have a commitment to staying up to date on industry trends and regulations. It also demonstrates your dedication to providing clients with comprehensive financial advice. Having this certification can help you stand out from other applicants when applying for jobs or when looking for promotions within your current employer. Additionally, it may help you get better pay rates since employers tend to value professionals with certifications more than those without them. Finally, having the certification will give you access to exclusive resources such as conferences and webinars hosted by FPA that can help you stay informed on the latest developments in the field of financial planning.

Pro Tip: When pursuing a financial planning analyst certification, focus on obtaining an advanced degree in either financial planning or accounting. This will ensure you have the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in the field. Additionally, look for certifications that are accredited by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFPB) and recognized by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). These certifications demonstrate your commitment to excellence and will help you stand out from other applicants.

Related: What does a Financial Planning Analyst do?

Top 10 Financial Planning Analyst Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Financial Planning Analysts today.

1. Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is a professional certification that demonstrates a financial planner has met the rigorous standards set by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. The CFP credential requires individuals to have experience in financial planning and pass an exam covering six core areas: insurance, investments, taxes, retirement planning, estate planning and general financial planning.

It typically takes between one and two years to complete the CFP program depending on your background knowledge and experience. To become a CFP you must first meet certain educational requirements such as completing college-level coursework in finance or economics or obtaining a bachelor’s degree in a related field. You must also have three years of full-time work experience in personal financial planning or alternatively two years of full-time work experience plus 30 semester hours of additional coursework in personal financial planning topics.

Once you have met these requirements you can apply to take the CFP Certification Examination which consists of two parts: an online multiple choice test and an essay exam. The cost for the examination is approximately $800 USD. Once you have passed both parts of the exam, you will be eligible to receive your CFP designation from the Board of Standards.

The cost for taking the CFP Certification Examination does not include any additional costs associated with obtaining continuing education credits or other fees required for maintaining your certification status each year.

2. Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is an internationally recognized professional designation given by the CFA Institute. It is a post-graduate level program that covers topics in investment analysis, portfolio management, and financial analysis. The CFA Program consists of three levels of examinations that must be completed within a seven-year period.

To become a CFA charterholder, candidates must pass all three levels of the CFA Program exams and meet the other requirements set by the Institute. The three levels are: Level I, Level II, and Level III. Each exam consists of multiple choice questions and essay-type questions.

Level I focuses on basic knowledge in economics, accounting, portfolio management, ethics, and quantitative methods; Level II focuses on portfolio management tools; and Level III focuses on portfolio management strategies.

The total cost to obtain the CFA designation varies depending on how long it takes you to complete all three levels of exams. Generally speaking, it costs around $3,000 to cover registration fees for all three exams as well as study materials such as books and practice tests.

In addition to passing all three exams and meeting other requirements set by the Institute (e.g., having at least four years of relevant work experience), candidates must also adhere to a Code of Ethics and Professional Standards established by the CFA Institute in order to become a charterholder.

3. Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA)

Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) is a professional designation for financial advisors and other professionals who specialize in investment management. It is offered by the Investments & Wealth Institute, a global organization that provides education and certification for investment management professionals.

The CIMA program requires candidates to pass a comprehensive exam, which covers topics such as portfolio construction, asset allocation, risk management, performance measurement and evaluation, behavioral finance, and investment strategies. The exam consists of two parts: the Core Knowledge Exam (CKE) and the Portfolio Management Simulation Exam (PMSE). The CKE tests knowledge of basic principles in investment management while the PMSE tests a candidate’s ability to apply those principles in practice.

It typically takes about 18 months to complete the CIMA program. Candidates must first complete an approved educational program from one of the Institute’s approved providers or demonstrate equivalent experience. After completing their education or demonstrating their experience, candidates must then register for and pass both parts of the CIMA exam before they can be certified as a Certified Investment Management Analyst.

The cost of obtaining the CIMA designation varies depending on the provider chosen for coursework or experience verification. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 USD to obtain the designation.

4. Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a professional designation that is awarded to individuals who have passed the Uniform CPA Examination and met other state requirements for licensure. CPAs are qualified to provide a variety of accounting, auditing, tax planning, and financial advisory services.

It typically takes between one and two years to become a CPA. The process includes completing an accredited college degree program in accounting or related field, passing the Uniform CPA Exam, and meeting any additional state-specific requirements.

The first step in becoming a CPA is to complete an accredited college degree program in accounting or related field. This usually requires four years of study at an accredited university or college. Once you have completed your degree, you must pass the Uniform CPA Exam administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). The exam consists of four sections: Auditing & Attestation; Business Environment & Concepts; Financial Accounting & Reporting; and Regulation.

In addition to passing the exam, each state has its own set of requirements for licensure as a CPA including experience requirements, continuing education credits, ethics courses, and background checks. Each state also sets its own fees for application and renewal of licenses which can range from $50-$400 depending on the state.

Finally, once all the requirements are met and all fees paid, you will be eligible to receive your license as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

5. Certified Financial Technician (CFTe)

Certified Financial Technician (CFTe) is a professional certification offered by the International Federation of Technical Analysts (IFTA). It is designed to recognize individuals who have achieved a high level of proficiency in the field of technical analysis. The CFTe credential is recognized as the highest international standard for technical analysts.

To become a Certified Financial Technician, you must first meet the eligibility requirements set out by IFTA. These include having at least five years of experience in the financial industry, and passing an exam that covers topics such as charting techniques, market indicators, and risk management.

The exam consists of two parts: a written portion and an oral portion. The written part consists of multiple-choice questions based on IFTA's Core Body of Knowledge, while the oral part requires candidates to demonstrate their knowledge through a series of presentations and discussions with an IFTA-approved panel. Candidates must pass both portions to receive their CFTe designation.

The cost for taking the CFTe exam varies depending on your country or region, but typically ranges from $500-$1,000 USD. Additionally, there may be additional fees associated with registering for the exam and obtaining study materials.

Overall, it can take up to six months or more to complete all requirements for becoming a Certified Financial Technician.

6. Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC)

Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC) is a professional designation offered by the College for Financial Planning. It is designed to help financial advisors better serve their clients in retirement planning.

The CRPC designation requires completion of a three-course program, which can be completed online or in-person. The courses cover topics such as retirement income planning, Social Security, taxation and estate planning, asset management, and risk management. The program takes approximately 12 months to complete and includes a comprehensive exam that must be passed with a score of 80% or higher.

To become a CRPC, individuals must have at least three years of experience working in the financial services industry and hold either a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent combination of education and experience. In addition, applicants must pass an ethics exam administered by the College for Financial Planning prior to taking the CRPC exam.

The cost for the CRPC program varies depending on how it is taken. Taking the program online costs $2,995 while taking it in-person costs $4,995. There are also additional fees associated with registering for the exam and obtaining the necessary study materials.

7. Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC)

Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC) is a professional designation that recognizes individuals who have demonstrated expertise in financial counseling and education. The AFC credential is awarded by the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE), which is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting excellence in financial counseling, education, and coaching.

To become an Accredited Financial Counselor, you must complete the following requirements:

1. Complete the AFCPE’s Financial Counseling Certification Program (FCCP). This program consists of three courses: Foundations of Financial Counseling, Advanced Financial Counseling, and Professional Practice. The total cost for the FCCP is $1,095.

2. Pass a comprehensive exam covering all three courses. The exam fee is $125.

3. Submit an application for accreditation with the AFCPE along with proof of completion of the FCCP program and passing score on the exam. The application fee is $50 plus an annual renewal fee of $50 each year thereafter.

The entire process can take anywhere from 4-6 months depending on how quickly you complete the coursework and pass the exam.

8. Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)

Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) is a professional designation awarded by The American College of Financial Services to individuals who have completed a rigorous course of study in the areas of financial planning, insurance, investments, retirement planning, and estate planning. To become a ChFC, an individual must complete nine college-level courses and pass two comprehensive exams.

It typically takes between three to five years to complete the requirements for the ChFC designation. During this time, candidates must complete nine college-level courses on topics such as financial planning process, risk management and insurance planning, investment planning, income tax planning, retirement planning, and estate planning. Each course requires approximately 50 hours of study time. Candidates must also pass two comprehensive exams that cover all aspects of the curriculum.

The cost for obtaining the ChFC designation varies depending on where you take the courses and exams. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $2,000-$3,000 USD for tuition fees alone. Additional costs may include exam fees and textbooks.

Overall, earning the Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) designation is an excellent way to demonstrate your expertise in financial services and provide clients with confidence in your abilities as a financial advisor or consultant.

9. Certified Retirement Counselor (CRC)

A Certified Retirement Counselor (CRC) is a professional designation given to individuals who have demonstrated expertise in retirement planning and counseling. The CRC designation is awarded by the International Foundation for Retirement Education (InFRE), an organization that provides education, resources, and certification programs to financial professionals.

To become a Certified Retirement Counselor, applicants must meet certain educational and experience requirements as well as pass an exam. Applicants must have at least three years of experience working in the field of retirement planning or counseling, or they must have completed an approved course in retirement planning from an accredited college or university. They must also complete InFRE's online certification program and pass the CRC exam with a score of 70% or higher.

The cost of obtaining the CRC designation varies depending on whether the applicant has already completed InFRE's online certification program. If not, it typically costs around $400 for the program and exam fees combined. The entire process usually takes about six months to complete.

10. Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)

A Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) is a professional designation awarded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). The PFS credential is designed to recognize those individuals who have demonstrated an advanced level of knowledge in personal financial planning.

It typically takes between three and five years to become a Personal Financial Specialist. To qualify, you must meet certain educational and experience requirements, pass an exam, and adhere to the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct.

To get the PFS credential, you must first complete either a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance or a master’s degree in taxation, financial planning, or business administration. You must also have at least two years of full-time experience providing comprehensive personal financial planning services to clients.

Once you have met the educational and experience requirements, you will need to take and pass the AICPA’s Personal Financial Planning Exam. This exam consists of four sections: Financial Planning Process; Investment Planning; Retirement Planning; and Taxation Planning. The cost for this exam is $325 for members of the AICPA and $425 for non-members.

Do You Really Need a Financial Planning Analyst Certificate?

Financial planning analysts help individuals and businesses evaluate their current financial situation, develop plans to meet their financial goals, and make sound financial decisions. A Financial Planning Analyst Certificate can provide a valuable credential for someone looking to enter this field.

Having a certificate in financial planning analysis provides proof of knowledge and experience in the field. It demonstrates that you have taken the necessary coursework to understand the principles of financial planning, as well as have an understanding of the tools and techniques used by experts. Having this certificate will also give employers confidence that you are capable of analyzing complex financial data and making informed decisions.

The certificate may also open up opportunities for career advancement. Many employers prefer to hire employees with a background in finance or accounting, and having a Financial Planning Analyst Certificate may be an indication that you possess these skills. Additionally, having a certificate may lead to higher pay or more job openings within the company or industry.

In conclusion, obtaining a Financial Planning Analyst Certificate can be beneficial if you are considering a career in this field. It can prove your knowledge and abilities while giving employers confidence that you are able to accurately analyze complex data sets and make sound decisions when it comes to managing finances. In addition, it may open up new opportunities for career advancement or higher salaries due to your specialized knowledge in the area of finance or accounting.

Related: Financial Planning Analyst Resume Examples

FAQs About Financial Planning Analyst Certifications

1. What is a Financial Planning Analyst Certification?

Answer: A Financial Planning Analyst Certification is an industry-recognized credential that demonstrates a professional’s knowledge and expertise in financial planning. It typically requires completion of a certification program, such as the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) program, which includes classes and exams covering topics like investments, taxes, estate planning and retirement planning.

2. What are the benefits of becoming a Certified Financial Planner?

Answer: By obtaining your CFP designation, you can demonstrate to potential employers that you have the necessary skills and knowledge to provide comprehensive advice on financial planning matters. This certification also provides access to high-paying jobs in the field of financial planning, as well as increased recognition among clients.

3. How do I become a Certified Financial Planner?

Answer: To become a CFP, you must complete an accredited course offered by one of the many universities or colleges that offer CFP courses. Additionally, you must pass an exam administered by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board). Once these requirements have been met, you will be awarded your CFP designation and given access to various job opportunities in the financial planning field.

4. How long does it take to earn a CFP certification?

Answer: The amount of time it takes to earn your CFP certification depends on how much time you are willing to dedicate towards studying for your exams each week or month. Generally speaking, it will take between 6 months and 2 years to complete all of the necessary requirements for this certification program.

5. Is there any cost associated with earning my CFP designation?

Answer: Yes, there are costs associated with earning your CFP designation including tuition fees for the course materials required for passing the exam as well as application fees for applying for your license once you have passed your exam(s). Additionally, some universities may charge additional administrative fees related to enrollment into their courses or programs related to obtaining your CFP designation.