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What Is a Certified Financial Transitionist (CeFT)?


A Certified Financial Transitionist (CeFT) is trained to help clients navigate through major life events and the financial transitions that accompany them. The CeFT is the industry’s first designation specifically geared toward financial change and transition. The certification is offered by the Financial Transitionist Institute, which is the training and certification division of the Sudden Money Institute.

How to Get the Designation

In order to become a Certified Financial Transitionist (CeFT), you must first have one of the following designations: Certified Financial Planner, Certified Investment Management Analyst, Certified Private Wealth Advisor, Chartered Financial Analyst, Chartered Financial Consultant, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, or Certified Public Accountant/Personal Financial Specialist.

There is a yearlong training program before you can sit for the daylong certification exam. Training involves studying the stages of transition, how people behave during their financial transition, and how to most effectively work with them. The exam costs $690, and includes a prep course that consists of three prep calls and a virtual practice exam.

The program is designed for professionals who have at least five years of face-to-face client contact and want to learn how to work with clients in a uncertain climate. Just about any financial professional can apply, but a financial planning background and solid technical skills are prerequisites for the course.

This certification trains financial advisors to work with individuals who are newly wealthy. It helps advisors understand their clients and guide them through changing circumstances. Ultimately, it helps clients adjust to their new reality and settle into predictable routines.

Costs and Requirements

An individual taking the course will pay $425 per month, which is $5,100 in total. That annual cost drops to $4,845 if it is paid up front. There are discounts for teams as well as corporate pricing.

The course has six modules that each last two months. In each module, individuals taking the course will:

  • Read the relevant section of the course book, which can be 25-80 pages.
  • Watch on-demand training videos, which are on average, 90 minutes per module.
  • Complete a 5- to 10-question quiz.
  • Use the material with clients.
  • Report back to your group during a live, 90 minute call. There is only one live group call per module..

There are also six optional study group calls during the first month of each module. They are strongly recommended, although they are not required.

Required Coursework

The six modules are, in the order that follows:

Module One: The Foundation, Purpose Method Outcome, Communication Preferences.

This module covers the science behind the Financial Transitionist designation. The course covers research on transitions and mindset. It also reviews literature and original research on stress and mindset, and research in adapting to change.

Module Two: The Transition Traits

Although transitions can go very well, sometimes clients have difficulty processing a life event and associated changes in relationships, priorities, and expectations. This module covers the relatively predictable patterns of behavior and consequences that follow such transitions.

Module Three: Financial Triage/The Decision Free Zone & One-Pagers

The Decision Free Zone (DFZ) is used to help a client with important decisions and commitments. It introduces order and calm, while increasing the ability to understand, see options, and understand consequences. However, some clients cannot immediately successfully work within the structure of the DFZ because they have a concern that needs to be addressed first. Financial triage is used to help clients with those gnawing concerns.

The one-page overviews are presentation tools that use the science of data visualization. Appropriately crafted visual aids can drastically improve absorption, retention, and recollection.

Module Four: Managing Expectations, “What if…”, and Introduction to The Written Case

Managing expectations is crucial, since expectations can create confusion and conflict for the client. “What if…” is a way to explore the spectrum of options that open up when life circumstances change.

Module Five: “Am I Okay?”, “What has Changed?”, Touchstone, and The Written Case, continued

When a client is struggling, there tools can provide clients with some relief about their short-term cash flow and other worries. Touchstone helps clients make important decisions – especially when they are choosing between many different options – by helping them identify times when they felt complete or most happy. The goal is to remember that feeling and use it as a guide.

Module Six: The Written Case

The advisor has to show the faculty that they know the content of the course and that they know how to use these tools in practice. The candidates must write and verbally present their cases before defending their positions and their work.

Daylong Certification Exam


The certification exam is held twice a year. In order take the exam, candidates must:

  • Adhere to the Code of Ethics for Financial Transitionists
  • Successfully complete the yearlong core training.
  • Be in good standing with the governing board of their primary designation.

The exam evaluates candidates by having them use Financial Transitionist tools and protocols. The exam tests candidates through written case studies, role-playing/oral exam, structured response, and multiple-choice testing.

Participants must prove they have learned the core materials and reached competence with using them. The also must explain what they do, why they do it, and how those materials are unique.

CeFT Maintenance Membership Types

In order to maintain the CeFT designation, you must attend the mid-year workshop or the annual conference once every two years. You also need to sign, return, and adhere to the Sudden Money Institute (SMI) Advisor Agreement, which includes the Code of Ethics. You will also have to remain in good standing with the SMI and the governing board of your primary designation. There is also an educational requirement. You must complete 15 hours of continuing education credit per year, with at least 10 credits from SMI.

You will also have to select a level of membership, on an annual basis. All costs listed are as of 2019. Levels of membership include:


  • This allows users to access the organization’s website and join community calls. You’ll also get to take advantage of member pricing on related events.
  • Basic CeFT holders will also get access to co-branded advisory tools and marketing materials.
  • The Basic membership costs $800.


  • Advanced is for advisors who have completed Core training but would like to further their study of Financial Transitions Planning. This group meets each month for 60-90 minutes and focuses on a tool that is not included in Core cases, training, and/or practice management. The goal is for participants to increase their fluency and confidence with using the tools and processes of Financial Transitions Planning. Advanced is a yearlong program that you can join after you have completed Core (or earned your certification). After completing the year of Advanced, you can move onto Advanced 2.0.
  • The Advanced membership costs $3,600/year or $300/month.


  • Mastery is for advisors who have completed core training and First-Year Mastery and are eager to continue to move the industry toward the human experience. Advisors receive Mastery invitations after completing First-Year Mastery and an Inward Bound retreat.
  • The Mastery membership costs $3,600/year or $300/month. Inward Bound retreats cost extra.

CeFT Maintenance

  • If you do not wish to continue your studies, but want to remain a CeFT professional, this is the membership for you. You are able to attend members-only events, and maintain your designation.
  • CEFT Maintenance costs $1,200/year or $100/month. 

CeFT vs. CFP


A CFP is a designation given by the Certified Planner Board of Standards to financial advisors. CFPs have a fiduciary responsibility to work in the best interest of their clients, and must agree to follow the Certified Planner Board of Standards’ code of ethics and professional conduct. The Certified Planner Board conducts a background check and candidates have to disclose past criminal activity, client complaints, and employment problems. However, CFPs have no training in the emotional and psychological aspects of financial planning, as CeFTs are.

CFP candidates must prove they have 6,000 hours of professional experience, but may be able to qualify with 4,000 hours of experience as an apprentice. The CeFT program targets professionals with five or more years of face-to-face client contact.

CFP candidates need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university Also, the must take a college-level program of study in personal financial planning, as well as a CFP Board-registered capstone course. The CFP does not require you to have a prior certification. However, candidates may have the option to skip the capstone course and additional program of study if they already have a CPA, CFA, or higher business degree. CeFT candidates must already have a CFP, Certified Investment Management Analyst, Certified Private Wealth Advisor, Chartered Financial Analyst, Chartered Financial Consultant, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, or Certified Public Accountant/Personal Financial Specialist designation.

After you prove you have completed the CFP course requirements, you can take the exam. The CFP exam tests what you have learned and how you can apply that knowledge to a variety of financial situations.

Bottom Line

CeFTs are already qualified as ordinary financial planners, and have other credentials. But they also have additional training that makes them uniquely qualified to assist unique clients. In some cases, those people require more than just straightforward money management and/or financial assistance.

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