A Financial Paraplanner Qualified Professional (FPQP) has a proven expertise in financial planning, which helps them better advise their clients. They are different than most paraplanners because the average paraplanner rarely has a formal certification. Paraplanners are part of a financial planning team and often do most tasks associated with financial planning services. However, they do not usually take the lead in terms of client relationships. Consider working with a financial advisor as you create or update a financial plan.
Becoming a Financial Paraplanner Qualified Professional
You can become a Financial Paraplanner Qualified Professional (FPQP), which is a certificate offered by the College for Financial Planning (CFFP), a Kaplan Company, by enrolling in and successfully completing the required courses. You can enroll and begin the course whenever you like. The FPQP certificate training is an introduction to financial planning. The program covers the main facets in personal financial planning with a focus on practical application, such as estate, tax, retirement, insurance and investments.
The certificate is useful for people who work in support roles in financial planning and people without prior experience in the field. The program is designed to cover all major facets of personal financial planning. This ensures that students have a comprehensive foundation of financial planning knowledge. The knowledge learned can be used to assist financial planners and advisors, as well as for individual financial situations.
CFFP notes on its site that even though the program covers the main facets of personal financial planning, it is geared more toward practical, rather than professional, application.
The program’s curriculum consists of these 10 modules:
- The Financial Planning Process
- Business Ownership, Cash Management, and the Use of Debt
- The Time Value of Money
- Insurance Basics and Property Insurance
- Life and Health Insurance
- Investment Basics and Strategies
- Retirement Planning
- Tax Implications of Financial Decisions
- Estate Planning Basics
- Case Study and Master Index
Securing and Maintaining the Certificate
According to the CFFP, the FPQP education program is designed for about 144 hours of self-study. However, the amount of time that an individual needs to study and prepare for the final exam can vary from person to person. Students must attempt the exam within six months of enrolling in the course. Students must pass the FPQP final exam, which has 75 questions, within one year of their enrollment date. The minimum passing grade is 70%. The exam is closed-book and proctored at one of the approved Prometric or ISO Quality Testing centers. It is free with the cost of enrollment the first two times a student takes the exam. However, subsequent attempts entail a fee.
It costs $1,350 to enroll in the program. This cost includes all study materials, streaming video lectures, interactive quizzes and access to optional live classes when they are happening. You can also contact your professor with any problems or questions.
The CFFP offers some program scholarships, too. You may be eligible for a discount if you are currently employed in the financial services industry. If you think you may be eligible for a discount, but aren’t sure, you can contact the CFFP enrollment team via email at email@example.com.
The CFFP has certain requirements that FPQP certificate holders must meet in order to keep the designation. There is a biennial renewal fee of $95 and FPQP certificate holders need to complete 16 hours of continuing education every other year. In addition, the CFFP asks all paraplanners with the FPQP designation to comply with self-disclosure requirements and standards of professional conduct.
Benefits of the FPQP Designation
The FPQP designation may offer opportunities to both clients who work with them and the professionals themselves.
- The program is extensive and encompasses the financial planning process. This includes the five disciplines of financial planning and general financial planning terminology, concepts, and categories. Professionals with this certification will be able to incorporate and apply their knowledge to support financial planners and advisors, as well as any clients they may have.
- The continuing education requirement means that FPQPs are staying up to date with the latest in financial planning knowledge.
- Clients know that their paraplanner complies with self-disclosure requirements and follows standards of professional conduct.
- In addition to an increase in the number of clients, CFFP writes that certificate holders report a 17% increase in earnings.
- Gaining the certificate can grant up to 45 state insurance continuing education (CE) credits and 45 credits towards the CFFP’s professional designation CE requirements.
FPQP vs. Certified Financial Planners (CFPs)
Financial advisors can help you with your personal financial goals. They can help you make the best financial decision for your situation through guidance and recommendations on savings, investing, retirement and more. Although paraplanners often assist financial advisors, and have a lot of knowledge about the financial planning process, they do not offer direct advice to the clients.
A certified financial planner (CFP) is a type of financial advisor. The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. distributes the CFP designation. The requirements for the CFP certification are more rigorous than the FPQP. While the FPQP is more of an entry-level certification, the CFP requires candidates to prove they have 6,000 hours of professional experience in the field. (You may be able to qualify with at least 4,000 hours of experience as an apprentice.)
You’re also required to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college. In addition, you must take a college-level program of study in personal financial planning and a CFP Board-registered capstone course. You may be able to waive that requirement if you already hold a CFA, CPA or a higher business degree.
Once you have proved your completion of the coursework requirements, you can take the CFP exam. The 150-question exam is designed to test the candidate on their retention of what they learned and how they apply that knowledge to financial situations. CFPs have a fiduciary responsibility to work in your best interest, or the best interest of their client, rather than in their own.
Like a FPQP, CFPs must renew their certification every two years. The renewal process requires CFPs to apply again and complete a 30-hour continuing education requirement. This includes two hours of CFP Board-approved ethics education and 28 hours of financial planning coursework. Maintaining the FPQP certification also requires several hours of continuing education coursework.
Like FPQPs, CFPs also have an ethics requirement. CFPs have to agree to follow the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standard’s code of ethics and professional conduct. Unlike FPQPs, the Certified Planner Board does a background check on all candidates. Candidates must disclose all past criminal activity, employment problems and client complaints.
The Bottom Line
Do your research if you’re interested becoming a Financial Paraplanner Qualified Professional. Make sure it’s the right fit for your career goals. Consider consulting other financial professionals, too. With the right certificates and licenses, you could be on your way to a successful career in the financial services industry.
Tips for Finding the Right Financial Planner
- While a FPQP can do most tasks associated with financial services, they can’t give you – as the client – direct advice for managing your money. However, a financial advisor can. Finding the right financial advisor who fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. If you don’t have a financial advisor yet, finding one doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- If you’re just looking to start investing, an online brokerage may be able to help. You can buy and sell stocks and securities from the comfort of your own home. Plus, many online platforms have low or no fees. Investing may help you achieve your financial goals faster.
Photo credit: ©iStock.com/torwai, ©iStock.com/South_agency, ©iStock.com/FluxFactory