Zach Goes to Washington

September 26, 2023

Posted in How We Work

Giving back as a financial planning professional takes many different forms. At Johnson Bixby,  giving back looks like this: offering free financial planning to the public, mentoring the next generation of financial planners, serving on the Financial Planning Association board or committees and more. Recently, Zach Reuter, CFP®, went to Washington, D.C., to give back to the profession.

Over time, as the financial planning field has grown and matured, one professional designation has emerged as one of, if not the, most prominent in the field, the Certified Financial Planner® (CFP®) credential.

Anyone can call themselves a financial advisor, but to use the CFP® marks, you must satisfy several criteria:

  • Education – Complete coursework on financial planning recognized by CFP® Board and hold a bachelor’s degree.
  • Exam – Pass a six-hour, 170-question exam on a multitude of financial planning topics. Only about 2/3 of test takers pass the exam on their first try.
  • Experience – Complete 6,000 hours of professional experience in the financial planning process or 4,000 hours of apprenticeship experience that meets additional requirements.
  • Ethics – Agree to adhere to high ethical and professional standards for the practice of financial planning, and to act as a fiduciary when providing financial advice.

The value of CFP® credentials

As you can see, it’s no small undertaking to pursue the CFP® designation. However, the degree of difficulty and the focus on elevated standards is why we require all planners at Johnson Bixby to hold the CFP® marks to practice as a financial planner here.

Personally, CFP® certification was the most difficult educational endeavor I’ve ever undertaken, and it made me much more prepared to work at a firm like Johnson Bixby. The rigor I applied to my studies and exam preparation proved to be excellent training for the high standard we set for working with our clients.

My recent trip to D.C.

I recently had the opportunity to give back to our profession by participating in an event hosted by CFP® Board, the governing body for the CFP® designation. I was part of a diverse group of 20 financial planning professionals from across the country who traveled to Washington D.C. to help write questions for future takers of the CFP® exam. Over the course of just two days, we were able to write 390 questions for potential use in future exams.

So test takers face questions based on real-world scenarios and client interaction, it’s important that practicing financial planners like us develop the questions. We also incorporated more questions into the exam that include the relational and behavioral side of financial planning as the industry recognizes the importance of going beyond the numbers to serve clients.

The writing lab where we developed CFP® exam questions

Free financial planning on October 25

Speaking of giving back, registration is open for our next pro bono financial planning event! If you have friends or family you think would benefit from a 30-minute session, in-person or virtually, with one of our financial planners, click here to read more about the event and register. Participants are encouraged to come ready with their top few questions to get individualized answers and a taste of what working with a CFP® professional at Johnson Bixby is all about.

If this inspires questions about the CFP® designation, or other credentials your financial advisor  holds, reach out to them today. Or, if you have someone in your family or circle of friends that’s interested in pursuing financial planning and/or the CFP®, feel free to connect them with us. We’re happy to share more about what it’s like working as a CFP® professional.

CFP Board Writer Guide
The Washington Monument on my walk from the metro


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