Email FacebookTwitterMenu burgerClose thin

Where to Find Financial Planner Courses Online

Share
An advisor taking a financial planner course online.

Certified financial planners must meet continuing education (CE) requirements to maintain their certification. If you’re interested in completing financial planner courses online there are plenty of options to choose from. When comparing financial planning classes, it’s helpful to consider the format, the time commitment required, and what you’ll pay.

SmartAsset’s Advisor Marketing Platform can help you add new clients at your desired pace. Sign up for a free demo today.

CFP Continuing Education Requirements

The CFP Board requires certified financial planners to complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years to renew their certification. Of those 30 hours, at least two hours must be ethics coursework from an approved provider. The remaining 28 hours must cover the CFP Board’s Principal Knowledge Topics:

  • Professional conduct and regulation
  • General principles of financial planning
  • Risk management and insurance planning
  • Investment planning
  • Tax planning
  • Retirement savings and income planning
  • Estate planning
  • Psychology of financial planning

Why is continuing education a requirement for certified financial planners? The CFP Board imposes this standard to ensure that certified financial planning professionals possess a sufficient degree of competency to serve their clients.

Where to Find Financial Planning Courses Online

A simple search can help you find financial planning courses online, but there’s one caveat to keep in mind. Courses must be approved by the CFP Board for them to count toward satisfying CE requirements.

With that in mind, here are seven places to look for online financial planning courses:

  • CFP Board. The CFP Board offers a free search tool that financial planners can use to locate CE courses. Searching available courses for all eight areas of principal knowledge produces more than 15,000 results. You can filter courses by format (live or self-study), level of complexity and credit hours earned. Dalton Education is one of the more popular CFP Board-approved program sponsors, offering CE ethics courses as well as CFP exam prep and CFP Capstone courses.
  • myCPE. myCPE has a wide selection of CFP Board-approved financial planning courses, including on-demand classes and webinars. One yearly subscription fee allows you to have access to all of the available classes. Note that there isn’t an a la carte option; you’ll need to pay the same fee to subscribe even if you’re only planning to take a single class.
  • Financial Planning Association. The Financial Planning Association (FPA) features a list of approved continuing education classes for financial planners. You can browse courses, view details and register for any courses through the FPA website. Note that the registration fees can vary based on the number of credit hours earned. For example, the Psychology of Financial Planning Specialist Badge Program allows you to earn nine credit hours and has a fee of $495 for FPA members and $595 for non-members.  
  • WebCE. WebCE has an extensive catalog of financial planning courses that span all eight areas of principal knowledge, including ethics. You can build a 30-hour coursework bundle for $74.95 and include the courses that interest you most. WebCE regularly adds new coursework options, with recent additions covering topics like fraud detection, AML awareness and digital assets.
  • Kitces. Kitces.com offers financial planning courses that count toward CE requirements to members. With a monthly, annual, or one-year membership, you’ll get access to on-demand and live webinars as well as an archive of CE resources. CE ethics coursework is included as an annual or one-year membership benefit but isn’t included with the monthly membership.
  • Kaplan. Kaplan Financial is a well-known name in CE exam prep but the company also offers financial planning courses for continuing education. You can choose from self-study classes or live, online classes. The Total Access self-study course gives you unlimited access to CFP Board-approved courses for 365 days, excluding CE ethics coursework. You’ll need to enroll in that course through Kaplan separately.
  • BlackRock. BlackRock offers an ongoing rotation of courses for financial planners and advisors who need to meet continuing education requirements. Courses are taught in an online seminar format, requiring you to watch videos and answer questions.

What to Look for When Choosing Financial Planning Courses

A woman taking a financial planner course online.

With so many options to choose from, it may be difficult to decide which courses are worth your time and money. As you compare financial planning classes, here are some key questions to ask:

  • Is this course CFP Board-approved?
  • How many credit hours will I earn?
  • Is the course taught live or does it follow a self-study format?
  • What principal knowledge area does the coursework satisfy?
  • What are the fees?  
  • How often does the program sponsor report credits earned to the CFP Board?

The first question is perhaps the most important. If a financial planning course is not approved by the CFP Board, then it won’t count toward your CE requirements, no matter how helpful you might find it to be. Once again, you can use the CFP Board’s search tool to find courses from approved providers.

You may ask other financial planners for their recommendations on coursework they’ve enjoyed or found to be valuable. And keep in mind that completing your continuing education requirement is not something you can generally wait until the last minute to do. Courses may take several weeks or months to complete so it’s in your best interest to allow yourself plenty of time to earn all of the required hours.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the CFP CE Requirements?

Certified financial planners are required to complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain their certification. The CFP Board requires two hours of ethics CE, and all courses must be completed through an approved provider.

Does FINRA CE Count Toward CFP CE?

FINRA offers online CE courses for registered representatives that can also be counted toward CFP CE requirements. A CFP who pursues this route must also be a registered representative for their coursework to count.

Are There Any Free Financial Planning Courses Online?

It’s possible to find financial planning CE courses offered free of charge, though the majority of online classes require a fee. Individually, the fees may not seem significant when paying for a single course, but they can quickly add up if you’re taking multiple courses to earn your 30 hours. That’s important to remember if you’re having trouble finding any free financial planning CE options.

Bottom Line

A certified financial planner continuing her education with an online course.

Continuing education is something you can’t avoid as a certified financial planner, but you have plenty of options for completing the necessary coursework. And remember that if you fail to meet your CE requirements you run the risk of losing your CFP certification.

Tips for Growing Your Advisory Business

  • If you’re looking for a way to grow your client base, you may consider working with an online lead-generation platform. SmartAsset AMP (Advisor Marketing Platform) is our holistic marketing service that financial advisors can use for client lead generation and automated marketing. Sign up for a free demo to explore how SmartAsset AMP can help you expand your practice’s marketing operation. Get started today.
  • Is becoming a CFP worth it? It could be if you’d like to expand your career horizons and potentially serve a greater number of clients. You’ll need to meet some important requirements to become a CFP, including obtaining the necessary education and work experience and successfully completing the CFP exam.

Photo credit: ©iStockPhoto/AJ_Watt, ©iStockPhoto/Mateja Sekulic, ©iStockPhoto/Worawee Meepian

...