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How to Become a Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

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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


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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