How to plan for the CFP exam in 2022
The CFP course is a one-way ticket to a successful career in financial planning and wealth management. After all, the program is reputed to be one of the best in the world, recognized in over 26 countries. Many professionals find themselves at the receiving end of many lucrative opportunities within the financial industry.
However, the journey to the certified financial planner credential may have a few roadblocks along the way. Such as passing the exam papers. The curriculum offers a high standard of quality education. The course will expect every certified student to be of an elevated caliber. Licensed professionals get jobs at some of the biggest wealth management companies and financial planning firms. Retail banks, NFBCs, mutual funds and insurance agencies prefer certified financial planners.
There is a lot of pressure riding on clearing the exams. That doesn’t mean the course is tough to pass. On the contrary, students who do the required preparation and planning are very successful. The CFP pass rate as of July 2021 is at 62 percent. Find out how you can become a part of this statistic.
The CFP course
The syllabus has three modules
- Investment planning
- Retirement and tax planning
- Risk management and estate planning
- You receive the CFP certification from the Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB) on completion
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CFP exam details
- Each exam is 2 hours long
- Each track exam has 75 multiple choice questions
- All exams are computer-based
- After completing the three exams, you will have to sit for the certified financial planner certification
- This is a 4-hour long exam comprising of case studies
- Clear all papers and you can apply for your certification
“How can I pass the CFP exam on the first attempt?”
So glad you asked. Below are ten tips that will help you prepare, plan and execute a strategy to reach your goal.
1. Start studying in advance
The CFP board suggests each student spend at least 250 hours studying for the exams. You need to set aside one to three hours a day, every day, to learn the material. The number of hours depends on your powers of retention. Are you a quick learner? Or will you struggle to grasp the concepts?
Take the time to learn the entire syllabus, as the exam questions cover every topic. It helps if you form an unbreakable habit of committing to a specific study time. This will ensure you comfortably tackle all the relevant subjects without stressing out when the exams approach. You need enough days left over for revision, so start as soon as possible.
2. Plan a strategic study plan
Have you mapped out the number of study hours every day? Now create an efficient plan. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when faced with a vast portion. Break up the syllabus into segments so that it is easier to tackle. Then figure out your strengths and weaknesses. How much time will you need per topic? Think tactically. You can choose the order of the exams. Which paper will you give first? Do you want to take the one that is most challenging for you? Also, consider how much weight each topic carries in the exam. Your preparation strategy needs as much thought as the actual prep.
3. Register with Proschool institute for personalized coaching
As one of India’s leading professional institutes, Proschool has educated over 10,000 students. They also have a high success ratio (65%, Not kidding bro) thanks to their unique active learning methodology and intensive training. The CFP course is taught by qualified faculty who are seasoned financial planners. The teachers clear your doubts instantly and help you understand the subjects better. You also get access to over 2,000 practice questions and video resources to help you prepare. Whether you choose online learning or a live classroom, you can experience Proschool’s holistic and innovative teaching.
4. Practice with mock tests
Ask anyone, and they will tell you that solving past years’ papers can make a real difference in your preparation. It is not enough to sit with a textbook and learn. How much have you retained? How will you craft your answers? Mock tests help you prepare better. It is good practice to write down the answers as you would in a regular exam. Maybe even time yourself. This gets you ready for the actual tests. After solving the papers, check your answers. Understand where you went wrong and learn from your mistakes. You can even try the Kaplan CFP prep course. They have a large range of study materials, such as mock exams and webinars. Proschool institute also helps students with practice tests.
Just don’t sit for the real exam without solving any mock papers.
5. Don’t just memorize, understand the material
Some of the topics in the CFP course can be technical and complex. If you learn by rote, you will remember the words but not the context or meaning. This is important because the CFP will quiz you on your comprehension skills. Get a firm grasp on the theoretical concepts by discussing them in detail with peers and professors, so it becomes second nature to you. You won’t pass the exams by showing off your memory. You’ll clear the course with your actual knowledge.
6. Work on the case studies thoroughly
During the CFP certification exam, you will receive specific information about a hypothetical client. This will include financial details such as assets, expenses, insurance policies and bank statements. You will need to give a thorough evaluation of the client’s finances. You may have to create a retirement plan, manages taxes, and figure out a will or estate planning. The best way to prepare is to review as many case studies as possible. Keep taking practice tests to ensure you gain the skills to crack the case. Your ability to think strategically and insightfully will come into play here.
7. Practice using the authorized calculator
You can only use one type of calculator during the exam — the FC-200V. Learn to use this device effectively in advance, so you are not caught off guard during your paper. You should know how to operate the calculator flawlessly. Practice using the functions and formulas regularly. You won’t be allowed to use anything else.
8. Revision is important
The syllabus is quite intensive. You may forget a few details, so you need enough time to review all the material. Plan your schedule so that there are a few days left to revisit the subjects, especially the challenging topics. The revision will also reinforce the concepts in your mind.
9. Practise stress-busting techniques
There will be stress. We guarantee you will feel the pressure. To avoid cracking under it, allow yourself some breathing space. Whether it’s 30 minutes of yoga, some pranayama or just walking in a park, do whatever it takes to keep your heart rate calm and your mind clear. You might as well schedule your favourite stress-busting technique into your study plan. It’s doubtful the learning will be adequate without it.
10. Don’t over-prepare
It is possible to study too hard. Students who lack confidence in themselves tend to go overboard. In this case, you could end up caving under pressure or forgetting a large portion of your syllabus. Whatever happens first. Stick to a reasonable study plan. Don’t work yourself for more than three hours a day. If you start early, you will be in a good place to handle the revision. Once you are done with that, step back. Trust that you know your material. If possible, don’t do much (or any) work the night before the exam. Get some rest and be refreshed in time for the paper.
Taking the CFP exam is quite similar to going to war. You will need a battle plan, a well-thought-out strategy and the mental strength to carry yourself through the pain.
The ten tips above will help you achieve your goal. So, good luck with the exams. Soon you will own business cards with ‘certified financial planner’ printed on them.
Find out more about Proschool’s CFP course here