Last week, proposed changes to the Experience requirement for CFP certification quietly took effect, including both the elimination of the Capstone course requirement for CFP exam challengers, and more controversially a change to the definition of what constitutes “experience” for the 3-year requirement to include both direct and indirect support.
What’s significant about the new “indirect support” rule is that, by the CFP Board’s own statements, virtually any job in the entire financial services industry will now qualify as “financial planning experience”, including an employee benefits administrator, a compliance attorney, and even a journalist who simply writes about financial planning topics!
The change is even more significant given the CFP Board’s introduction of the 2-year “apprenticeship” option for the experience requirement in 2012… which means that over the past several years, the CFP experience requirement has slipped from “3 years of financial planning experience” to “2 years of financial planning experience, or 3 years of any job remotely related to the financial services industry”!
Sadly, while the CFP Board’s prior changes to the experience requirement in 2012 included a public comment period, this time the CFP Board acted unilaterally without stakeholder input, as it continues to push aggressively for growth in the number of CFP certificants. And notably, the FPA and NAPFA have remained remarkably silent about the change as well, suggesting the organizations either tacitly support cutting the experience requirement for CFP certificants, or that they have lost any ability as membership associations to hold the CFP Board accountable.
Ultimately, though, perhaps the most ironic aspect of the CFP Board’s change is the fact that it comes after 4+ years – and $40M+ in spending – on a public awareness campaign to communicate to the public that the CFP marks are the highest “gold standard” in financial planning… even as the CFP Board’s growth strategy makes it easier and easier to obtain that standard.