The starting point for earning CFP certification is to complete the Educational requirement, a series of six college-level courses worth 18 credit hours on the various principal topics in the financial planning body of knowledge. A CFP educational program is intended to prepare future financial planners not only for taking the 6-hour CFP exam, but also the base of knowledge necessary to actually give personal financial planning advice.
Yet the caveat is that with the ongoing growth of financial planning, there are now more than 300 CFP Board Registered Programs available to complete the CFP educational requirement, with costs that range from under $3,000 to nearly $10,000 (or more for CFP programs part of a broader undergraduate or graduate degree!). So which is the best CFP program to choose and provides the best value for its cost?
Given the reality that everyone has a different style of learning, ultimately the truth is that there is no one “best” CFP educational program. Do you want to just complete the certification program as quickly as possible, or do you prefer to do it as part of an undergraduate or graduate-school degree? Do you learn better in a classroom or with an online program? Do you want the structure of a live educational program, or is it preferable (or easier) to manage a less structured CFP self-study format? And in the end, do you plan to finish with your CFP certification, or is that just the first step in your planned pursuit of post-CFP designations as well?
The bottom line: if you want to choose the best CFP educational program, look introspectively at what you think you need in terms of structure and support to get through the CFP curriculum and really learn it… and then do a comparison of the various CFP programs, to figure out which is the best match for you personally.