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July 2015

How to Get Useful Feedback When You’re a C-Suite Executive

Three ways to get useful feedback at the top of the corporate ladder by Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq.    Posted: July 24, 2015

As you work your way up the corporate ladder, it’s customary to receive constructive feedback in the form of a performance review or some other useful tool. However, once you reach the C-Suite, you may receive very little, if any at all. Maybe it’s because giving (and receiving) feedback can prove a bit problematic at all levels.

A Harvard Business Review article notes that “Most managers say they dislike giving feedback and don’t think it’s as effective as it could be. Those on the receiving end say they don’t get enough feedback they can actually use.” This issue is exacerbated in the C-Suite, as executives are often insulated from criticism and have increased autonomy and responsibility.

[Related: Women of Power: Not Moving Up at Work? 3 Smart Steps to Assess Yourself and Advance]

If you find yourself in this predicament, don’t fall victim to the status quo. Learn how to evaluate your performance and avoid these hiccups as you make your way to the C-Suite:

1. Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that manifests when a group of people desire to avoid conflict and end up making irrational decisions that lead to poor outcomes. When executives don’t get a fresh pair of eyes and ears to evaluate their performance, they may come to rely on the feedback received from peers who are likely focused on group cohesiveness.

If so, those peers may simply tell the person what he or she wants to hear, and vice versa. Problems arise when decisions are based on false evaluations which, of course, can negatively influence outcomes. Avoid groupthink by seeking constructive criticism from a third party that can provide the candid and accurate feedback you need to evaluate and improve your performance.

2. Superman/Superwoman Complex. When you don’t hear anything to the contrary, you may begin to believe that you are…invincible. This often leads to flawed decision-making. Even when no one else is telling you how ‘airtight’ your performance may be, you may just assume it. This often occurs when someone has developed a pattern of thinking and behaving that has gone unchecked for so long that they feel it must be right, especially since no one has challenged it. This complex has the same effect as groupthink.

Avoid the superman/superwoman complex by stepping outside of your comfort zone and refusing to assume that whatever you are thinking/doing is inherently correct. Get regular feedback. Challenge yourself by reviewing case studies and evaluating results cultivated by others who may have done it your way, as well as seeking feedback from a third party who can help you proactively confront the status quo.

3. Doubting Thomas. One of the worst scenarios for a high-powered executive to be in is that of always second-guessing him or herself. It’s counterproductive and forces you to operate from a position of weakness rather than strength. You can avoid this scenario by confronting your uncertainty and asking for immediate feedback whenever you are in unfamiliar territory or feel that the stakes require more input. Once you get clear on what it is you want, you won’t have to revisit. You can move on to bigger fish, thereby rightfully silencing your inner skeptic and building your decision-making muscles along the way.

These strategies will help you avoid these blunders and prepare you to deliver your best performance once you reach the C-Suite.

To your success.


February 2015

Urban Financial Services Coalition (UFSC) 2014 Activity Highlight Excerpt Report

“Opportunity does not knock, it presents itself when you beat down the door.”
-Kyle Chandler

Thank you friends for your vital work with the Urban Financial Services Coalition (UFSC) in 2014!

We accomplished a number of actions in 2014 that are worthy of note, I would like to remind you of a FEW of them and encourage you to be fired up for UFSC in 2015 and renew your membership!

As you know, our Mission is: “To be the pre-eminent financial services organization that provides professional development programs, supports educational advancement and promotes economic empowerment for its members and minority communities at large.”

Furthermore, our Vision is: “To ensure the full and equitable participation of people of color at all levels in the financial services industry.”
A few of the many UFSC accomplishments in 2014 were:

  • The March, 2014 African American Briefing for Financial Professionals in Washington, DC. Event attendees from the United States and Canada, over a three day period, heard timely presentations and networked with officials and experts from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the United States Congress, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Republican National Party, Booz Allen Hamilton and other international entities. We are grateful to Ditu Kasuyi, Adrienne Whittaker, Dorothy Reed and Marlene Braithwaite for their leadership in facilitating this event attended by professionals from Insurance, Development, Banking, Investment, Technology, Regulatory and other areas of Finance.
  • Second, the yearlong Professional Development Teleconference Series which allows UFSC members to directly learn from and brainstorm with thought leaders in the Financial Services Industry. Some of the speakers in 2014 were Peter J. deSilva President – CEO UMB Financial Corporation, former US Congressman Harold Ford Jr. Managing Director Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and Cyber security expert Heather Wyson- Constantine Senior Director with the American Bankers Association. Some of the topics addressed were: Cyber Security, Financial Services and the political landscape and The entrepreneurial spirit that drives innovation and opportunities. Debra Bronston and Marlene Braithwaite are to be commended for their excellent direction in this cutting edge program.
  • Third, the 40th Annual UFSC Summit held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in June 2014. This highlight event received accolades from around North America and abroad. The Summit included sessions with subject matter experts covering topics from Risk Management in Finance to Leadership Strategy in Financial Services to the Mark I Youth Leadership Scholarship Sessions to Technology in Finance to Community Volunteerism. A number of new business and job relationships resulted directly from attendance at this event. We extend our sincere thanks to Roderick Hayes, Ditu Kasuyi, Craig Marchbanks and Tanya Hinton for leading this program.

We hope you will send in your 2015 membership application and benefit from the exciting 2015 events.

See you soon!
Walter Brown, Jr. DE


September 2014

Professional Career Development Matters

Power Women of the Diaspora: How Award-Winning Journalist Used Storytelling to Reinvent Career

Adaora Udoji’s curiosity led to career opportunities abroad by Kandia Johnson    Posted: August 27, 2014 Black Enterprise Magazine

After interviewing thousands of people all over the world, award-winning journalist, Adaora Udoji recognizes the power of other people’s stories to help transform lives.

From her experience as a legal correspondent with ABC News and CNN, covering the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 2004 Presidential Election, and Hurricane Katrina, Udoji has had her share of game changing leadership roles and has no intention on slowing down.

“I am insanely curious. Since I was 5 years old and now at 45, I still love talking, a good story and explaining things,” Udoji says. Udoji has lived on three continents—Africa, Europe, and North America—and holds dual American and Irish citizenship. Having spent the majority of her career as a global nomad, in 2007 she was an honoree for the World Diversity Leadership Conference at the United Nations. And in 2009, Essence Magazine named her one of the 25 Most Influential African Americans.

Udoji, a 2013 Pipeline Fund Fellow, also serves on the board of the Montclair Film Festival, as a member of the advisory board for Women at NBC Universal, and as a mentor for Women Innovate Mobile, a startup accelerator designed to help women entrepreneurs and women in technology.

To top it all off, this wife, mother, and breast cancer survivor is now the interim president of News Deeply, an award-winning impact media startup focused on complex global issues, and she’s also founder and managing director of The Boshia Group, a network of strategists, advisors, content creators, and developers.

Black Enterprise caught up with the master of reinvention to talk about changing the direction of one’s career and lessons learned in business.

What is the first piece of advice you would give to a person looking to reinvent their career?

Get your story straight. Reinvention is all about the story you tell.  From that point,

  1. Take inventory of your core skills: “What do you do every day?” A tried and true method of reinvention boils down to your core (internal) self versus your external self. If you take a look at what you really like to do and what you’re good at, you’ll find that there are some core skills that has continually reoccurred throughout your lifetime. Pair it down to those simple skills that can be applicable to anything.
  2. Figure out what steps you need to take or skills you need to develop to make the transition: Look at job descriptions that interest you. Focus on the job descriptions/skills rather than job titles.
  3. Articulate your skills clearly: Create a package of your skills and experiences (e.g., résumé, cover letter, etc.) to pitch your story. If you have a product or service, what problem does it solve? What you are offering? Does your story convey transferrable skills?

What lessons in business have helped shape your successful career?

  1. Embrace mistakes – I hate making mistakes but I am never afraid of failing. It’s painful and it hurts, but you’ll survive. To get good at anything, you have to stop thinking so much and just do it.
  2. Create a personal board of directors – A combination of colleagues, friends, aspirational mentors or sponsors. According to Sylvia Ann Hewlett, president and CEO of the Center for Talent, mentors advise; sponsors act. Sponsors are in the room when decisions are being made. Mentors can give you a direction and guidance.
  3. Keep your contacts up to date – Stay in touch with your network. Building a relationship is about give and take. Even if you are a freshman in college you can add value. Nurture the relationships with people and be authentic.
  4. Make room for humility – There could be six billion on the planet but my parents made sure that I knew I was one of them and I was no better or worse than anyone else. Speak your truth with confidence and humility. Be willing to say I don’t know.

Kandia Johnson (@kandiajohnson) is a communications strategist, writer, and world traveler. She is dedicated to empowering audiences to tap into their hidden potential to achieve success. Driven by a passion to help people and organizations turn vision into reality, Kandia creates content that educates, engages and inspires.


April 2014

Not Feeling Your Career? Here’s How to Get the Love Back

Before you put in your resignation, try these steps to spice things up
by Janell Hazelwood    Posted: March 19, 2014 at

There are many millennials frustrated and feeling burned out after the post-graduate honeymoon phase is over and the rose-tinted glasses have gone out of style. You may have walked off the graduation stage wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to take on the world, until a few years working the 9-to-5 has you thinking, “This can’t be life.”
Well, fret no more. Everyone has those days of second-guessing why they chose their career path and re-evaluating whether any of it is even worth it. Before you put in your two-weeks notice and trail off into an oblivion of the unknown, consider these three steps to help you fall back in love with your career:

1. Make a list of pros and cons. Consider factors such as location, salary, job duties, potential for growth, network and agreement with your passions (or what you do well). Oftentimes, you’ll find that there’s more that you love—or can grow to love, in the grand scheme of things—than you think. If there are more cons than pros, maybe it’s not your career choice but the particular job you hold. If that’s the case, try to think of positive ways to change negatives about that current post you’re in. A relocation, not a change of career, may be in order.

2. Learn more about your industry. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in a rut due to doing and thinking about the same things over and over again in terms of your career. There can be other aspects of the industry you’re in that you’ve never discovered or imagined. Stay abreast of industry trends and emerging jobs within your career path, and start networking with peers who are innovators or entrepreneurs. This is a great way to be at the pulse of what’s going on and become an innovator yourself.

3. Step your game up. Nothing like a good challenge to test your love affair with your career. Sign on for a new project that recharges your analytical and problem-solving skills. Partner with an awesome coworker to create new ideas and agendas to implement for adding value in some way. Look into related tasks where you could position yourself in a unique way for advancement.


February 2014

For financial professionals… From The Risk Management Association

RMA Releases Governance and Policies Workbook.

— Risk management culture can be the single most important element that guides a financial institution through economic cycles. Strong governance and policies help to ensure that individuals conform to that culture. The Risk Management Association (RMA) has developed a comprehensive Governance and Policies Workbook, available now for banks to use as part of their enterprise risk management efforts. This book is the third in a series of workbooks designed to help community banks develop a robust risk framework.
The workbook includes sections on governance, culture, and control environment and response, and gives an overview of the core capabilities required for success. Proper functions for the board of directors, the board risk committee, the chief risk officer, and the management risk committee are covered, as are guidelines for writing policies and procedures. The workbook notes that culture is key because it is not possible for rules alone to cover every conceivable incident, identify rogue individuals, or overcome cognitive biases. The workbook discusses the importance of good people and good judgment, communication systems that move information through an organization, and shared accountability.
The reward for instituting and maintaining effective governance and policies is an environment in which people become the company’s collective strength as they work toward a common goal. More information about the Governance and Policies Workbook as well as RMA’s Risk Appetite Workbook and Stress Testing Workbook are available at

Posted December 2013

Recommended educational reading from Ariel Investments:

  • Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist – by Roger Lowenstein
  • A Random Walk Down Wall Street – by Burton G. Malkiel
  • One Up on Wall Street – by Peter Lynch
  • Moneyball – by Michael Lewis
  • The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us – by Christopher Chabris & Daniel Simons
  • Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions – By Dan Ariely


Posted November 2013

Ethnocentric, Polycentric  or Geocentric… words to review…

When Crossing Cultures, Use Global Dexterity

By Andy Molinsky – Mar 12, 2013

Harvard Business Review

Picture the following: Greg O’Leary, a 32-year-old mid-level manager, is in Shanghai for the first time to negotiate a critical deal with a distributor. To prepare himself for the trip, Greg has learned some key cultural differences between China and the U.S. — about how important deference and humility are in Chinese culture, and how Chinese tend to communicate more indirectly than Americans do. He also has learned about how important it is in China to respect a person’s public image or “face.” Finally, Greg also learned a few Chinese words, which he thought could be good potential icebreakers when starting a meeting.

Greg quickly realizes, however, that learning cultural differences in theory does not always translate into successful behavior in practice. The first problem comes when Greg, who is praised for his “excellent Chinese,” proudly accept the acknowledgement, not realizing how publicly expressing pride in this way runs counter to the important role of humility in Chinese culture and could come across as arrogant to his Chinese counterparts. He then quickly backtracks and deflects the praise, but feels awkward and clumsy doing so. Next, Greg tries to use a more indirect communication style to impress his colleagues. But here again, Greg struggles. Greg is such a straight shooter by nature that it feels awkward and evasive not to say what he means. He also has no clue how indirect he should be. By the end, it becomes frustrating, and all Greg wants to do is end the conversation.

This situation highlights a challenge that global leaders and managers constantly face in their global work: The way that you need to behave to be effective in a new setting is different from how you’d naturally and comfortably behave in the same situation at home.

I’m sure that this isn’t news to any of you. Many of us have lived, worked, or studied abroad, and if you haven’t, you’ve certainly read one of the many books or articles describing cultural differences. But what these books don’t tell you is that learning about differences across cultures is only a first step toward effective cultural adaptation, and if all you do is learn differences, you will likely suffer the same fate as Greg. It’s not only the differences that most people need to understand to be effective in foreign cultural interactions: It’s global dexterity, the ability to adapt or shift behavior in light of these cultural differences. And that’s something that’s often easier said than done.

Why? Well, for starters, it’s often very difficult to perform behaviors you aren’t used to, even if you have an intellectual understanding of what these behaviors are supposed to be. From my work interviewing and working with hundreds of professionals from a wide range of different countries and cultures, I find that it is very common to feel awkward, inauthentic, or even resentful when trying to adapt behavior overseas. And when you have such strong internal reactions to adapting cultural behavior, your external performance can suffer. The negative feelings can leak into your performance and make you look awkward or unnatural. They can also cause you to want to avoid these situations altogether — in a similar way that by the end of Greg’s conversation, he just wanted it to end.

Now of course, not all situations are so difficult. Some situations — like, say, learning to kiss on two cheeks for an American in Europe (or three or four, depending on where you are) — are a bit unusual, but don’t feel deeply disingenuous to do. But many other situations — like giving performance feedback, participating in a meeting, delivering bad news, interviewing for a job, or promoting yourself or your product — require behavior of you that simply is much harder to perform. And these very same situations are also often critical to your success in a foreign culture. So how can you learn to adapt behavior successfully without feeling like you are losing yourself in the process? Here are a few quick tips:

First, make the behavior your own. Behaving in a new culture isn’t like hitting the bull’s-eye of an archery target. In many cultures and in many situations, you have leeway to adjust, and by doing this smartly, you can achieve success without compromising your authenticity. For example, instead of saying something like, “No, no, my Chinese is very poor” (a prototypical Chinese response), Greg might have tried something like, “Thank you. I have been trying hard to learn, but my Chinese is still very poor.” This is a cultural blend — a hybrid. It mixes Chinese humility with a bit of pride, acknowledging that he has been trying hard to learn the rules. Now in some places and contexts in China, this might not work; it might seem too Western. But in other places, it might.

That’s where a cultural mentor comes in: someone capable of telling you whether these changes work in the new setting. Now, remember that it’s not all of China Greg needs to worry about; it’s the specific people he’s interacting with. So, find a mentor who is familiar with China or the culture you’re operating in, but also someone familiar with your particular work environment. For example, perhaps Greg is interacting with 20-somethings who did their MBA in the States and have a Western approach. Or perhaps they’re employees of a state-run enterprise with a very traditional background and set of expectations. Knowing this is critical when learning to customize your behavior.

So too is assessing internally how comfortable it feels to make these adjustments. Perhaps the adjustments are good externally, but feel wrong, inappropriate, or inauthentic internally. That’s ultimately no good for you because the discomfort you experience will likely leak into your performance and make it hard to perform the behavior authentically, which is key for forging relationships in any culture. You’ll have to break out of your comfort zone to some degree, but make sure you still retain who you are.

The final piece of advice is to develop a forgiveness strategy. You will make mistakes as you experiment with cultural adaptation. Do what you can to not be punished for them! Signal to others that you’re trying to learn their cultural rules, even though you haven’t yet mastered them, and that you care about and respect their traditions. That will go a long way toward building cultural capital that you can cash in in any foreign setting.


October 2013

Case Study: How Hard Should You Push Diversity? (Harvard Business Review  / HBR Blog Network)

“Did you see this?” Kumkum Bhatnagar asked incredulously.

She held up a printout of an article by Will Sonenberg, the CEO of GlobeBank. It had appeared in a special online supplement of Businessweek on the subject of diversity, and it concerned the company’s efforts to increase female and minority representation in management. Charles Begley, GlobeBank’s managing director of diversity recruiting, was already reading it onscreen, dumbfounded.

“We worked with him on every draft,” he sputtered. “Where did this line come from? A glance at the photos of our executive committee on our website is all it takes to see how little headway we’ve made on diversity. Who wrote that?”

“He must have written it himself, after we signed off,” Kumkum, Charles’s deputy director, said with a note of despair.

“He had no business doing that,” Charles said.

The line in Will’s article made it sound as if Charles and his team had been sitting around doing nothing for the past four years. Hadn’t the CEO just last month sent out an official recognition of their achievements? Hadn’t he cited their “unprecedented progress” in filling the executive pipeline with minority candidates?

“Why would he take a swipe at us like this — and in public?” Charles asked.

“I don’t know,” Kumkum said. “But of course, when it comes to the executive committee, we both know he’s right.” [Read More…]


September 2013

My Boss Moves Are Better Than Yours: 5 Things Influential People Do Best
Take a cue from leaders you admire on what really gives them the ‘it’ factor
by Janell Hazelwood on Black

We all have people we admire, and when it comes to career advancement and boss moves, successful leaders have mentors and sponsors who provide the inspiration and guidance. [Read More…]


Effective Ways of Growing People in Organizations

“One of the most significant contributions to business failure is the inability to get things done through people.”
~ David Krajenowski

Leaders accomplish their visions through personal growth and personnel growth. Focusing on individual development is fine, but doing something truly significant also involves empowering others to grow to their potential. One is too small of a number to achieve greatness.

For a leader, growing people isn’t just a theoretical, pie-in-the-sky notion; it’s a pressing demand with real-world implications. An organization that’s not investing in its people exhibits all sorts of unhealthy symptoms. Read More…


CFP® Certification: The Standard of Excellence for Personal Financial Planning

October 31, 2012

The CFP® certification process, administered by CFP Board, identifies to the public that those individuals who have been authorized to use the CFP®certification marks in the U.S. have met rigorous professional standards and have agreed to adhere to the principles of integrity, objectivity, competence, fairness, confidentiality, professionalism and diligence when dealing with clients.

CFP Board conducted a nationwide consumer survey among upper-income households. That survey reflects the public’s growing demand for financial planners who adhere to rigorous standards. Of those surveyed:  Read More…


October 31, 2012

Effective Ways of Growing People in Organizations

“One of the most significant contributions to business failure is the inability to get things done through people.”
~ David Krajenowski

Leaders accomplish their visions through personal growth and personnel growth. Focusing on individual development is fine, but doing something truly significant also involves empowering others to grow to their potential. One is too small of a number to achieve greatness.

For a leader, growing people isn’t just a theoretical, pie-in-the-sky notion; it’s a pressing demand with real-world implications. An organization that’s not investing in its people exhibits all sorts of unhealthy symptoms.
1. Trouble on the bottom line.
2. High turnover
3. Backstabbing and infighting for turf.
4. Complaining that has little focus on real issues.
5. Low motivation.
6. Unaccounted for absences from the office.
7. Poor communications among workers.
8. Long work days but low productivity.
On the other hand, when leaders grow their people, they reap the rewards of high morale and synergies of teamwork.

The most effective way to grow an organization is to grow the people in it. Here are some growth practices that you can apply to grow your team.

1) Develop a game plan to grow others.

The highest function of a leader is not just to lead others; the highest function of a leader is to produce leaders who can lead others. There’s no outsourcing the responsibility to develop the leadership capacities of your people. You have to take initiative to mentor others within your organization

Mentors must possess a specific know-how. Without this confidence and knowledge they are not ready to transfer what they’ve learned to others. At the same time, the object of mentoring is not perfection but improvement. Don’t feel as if you have to be flawless before you can begin to impart your wisdom and skills to others. Also, realize that the underlying purpose of mentoring is not for people to act differently but rather to become different. Such a change certainly doesn’t happen overnight; the process is evolutionary, not revolutionary.

2) Connect with them.

Connection doesn’t happen unless you put in the time to learn about someone’s unique personality, perspective, and motivations. Ask questions about the people on your team to uncover their interests, and observe them in action to find out their capacity and strengths. Finally, demonstrate your commitment to their success by consistently adding value to them, providing constant encouragement, and making yourself available for questions.

3) Challenge them.

Giving others a project that causes them to stretch helps to build their emotional and creative capacity. Conferences and training seminars have their place, but most learning takes place on the job. People grow through actual assignments in which they encounter real-life problems that have immediate relevance to the company.

4) Empower them.

Empowerment begins by painting the big-picture for those you lead. Disney doesn’t give its street sweepers four days of training because street sweeping is complex; Disney wants sweepers who are able to answer guest’s questions about the park.

Empowerment also is all about trust. As Captain D. Michael Abrashoff said, “If all you give are orders, then all you’ll get are order-takers.” Leaders give power to those they lead, and then hold them accountable for using that power appropriately.

This article is used by permission from Leadership Wired, John Maxwell’s premiere leadership newsletter, available for free subscription at”


October 31, 2012

CFP® Certification: The Standard of Excellence for Personal Financial Planning

The CFP® certification process, administered by CFP Board, identifies to the public that those individuals who have been authorized to use the CFP®certification marks in the U.S. have met rigorous professional standards and have agreed to adhere to the principles of integrity, objectivity, competence, fairness, confidentiality, professionalism and diligence when dealing with clients.

CFP Board conducted a nationwide consumer survey among upper-income households. That survey reflects the public’s growing demand for financial planners who adhere to rigorous standards. Of those surveyed:

  • 85% considered successful completion of a certification examination “very important” or “extremely important.”
  • 95% felt financial planners should adhere to professional practice standards.
  • 97% said the most important standard for financial planners was adherence to a professional code of ethics.

CFP® professionals must pass the comprehensive CFP® Certification Examination, pass CFP Board’s Fitness Standards for Candidates and Registrants, agree to abide by CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility and Rules of Conduct which put clients’ interests first and comply with the Financial Planning Practice Standards which spell out what clients should be able to reasonably expect from the financial planning engagement. These are just some of the reasons why the CFP® certification is becoming increasingly recognized.

In addition, the CFP® certification prepares you for a career-long commitment to meeting the ever-changing needs of your clients. As a CFP® professional, you become a coach and problem-solver, able to provide truly personalized services to clients and to maintain high levels of financial planning and professionalism. Finally, your expertise and credibility as a financial planner is instantly communicated with the CFP® marks – the financial planning certification most sought after by consumers and financial planners alike.

Get started on your path to CFP(R) certification today


Initial Certification

To become certified, you are required to meet the following initial certification requirements (known as the four “Es”):

  • Education
  • Examination
  • Experience
  • Ethics

These four components are briefly described below; subsequent sections of this Guide to CFP® Certification provide detailed information about each component. While the CFP® certification requirements may be changed from time to time, you will be expected to meet the requirements that are in place at the time you apply for the CFP® Certification Examination.


To take the CFP® Certification Examination, you will need to be knowledgeable in all of areas covered by the financial planning topic list. There are three ways to complete the educational requirement: CFP Board-Registered Programs, Challenge Status or Transcript Review. Candidates for certification must have a bachelor’s degree (or higher), or its equivalent, in any discipline, from an accredited college or university in order to obtain CFP® certification. Thebachelor’s degree requirement is a condition of initial certification; it is not a requirement to be eligible to take the CFP® Certification Examination and does not have to occur before sitting for the exam.


After you have successfully met the education requirement, you will be eligible to apply for the CFP® Certification Examination. The CFP® Certification Examination assesses your ability to apply your financial planning knowledge (based on the topic list), in an integrated format, to financial planning situations. Combined with the education and experience requirements, it assures the public that you have met a level of competency appropriate for professional practice.


Because CFP® certification indicates to the public your ability to provide financial planning without supervision, CFP Board requires you to have experience in the financial planning process. Three years of full-time relevant personal financial planning experience, or (effective September 1, 2012) two years of Apprenticeship experience that meets additional requirements, is required.


When you have completed the education, examination and experience components of the CFP® certification process, you will be directed to complete the CFP® Certification Application asking you to disclose whether you have been a party (or involved) in any criminal, civil, governmental, or self-regulatory agency proceeding or inquiry. CFP® certification also requires you to agree to adhere to CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility,Rules of Conduct and Financial Planning Practice Standards, and acknowledge CFP Board’s right to enforce them through its Disciplinary Rules and Procedures.

Applicants for CFP® certification are required to pass CFP Board’s Fitness Standards for Candidates and Registrants, which describe conduct that: 1) is unacceptable and will always bar an individual from becoming certified; and 2) is presumed to be unacceptable and will bar an individual from becoming certified unless the individual successfully petitions CFP Board’s Disciplinary and Ethics Commission for reconsideration.

For example, conduct that is presumed to be unacceptable includes one personal or business bankruptcy filed within five years prior to completing the CFP® Certification Application. Individuals that have filed for bankruptcy in that time frame must petition CFP Board’s Disciplinary and Ethics Commission for reconsideration of the presumptive bar. CFP Board’s Disciplinary and Ethics Commission may, at its discretion, grant or deny the petition.

Certification Renewal

Once you have been authorized to use the CFP® marks, you must meet CFP Board’s renewal standards to continue to use them. You must keep current with the annual certification fee and complete the continuing education (CE) requirement every two years. In order to position you in the correct period, your initial continuing education (CE) requirement and certification fee are prorated.

The renewal requirements are 1) 30 hours of CE every two years, 2) certification application every two years, and 3) annual $325 certification fee (non-refundable). The CE requirement includes 28 hours in the accepted financial planning topics and two hours from a pre-approved program on CFP Board’s Standards of Professional Conduct.

Renewal reminders will be sent to you beginning approximately four months before the payment and CE reporting deadlines. The certification fee helps cover the costs associated with ethics enforcement, protection of the marks against infringement, maintenance of professional standards of practice and public awareness activities related to the CFP® marks.