A CFP professional shall develop and maintain the abilities, skills and knowledge necessary to competently provide advice and/or services to clients.
Competence requires attaining and maintaining a high level of knowledge and skill, and applying that knowledge effectively in providing advice and/or services to clients.
To earn CFP certification, the CFP professional has demonstrated significant knowledge, skill and abilities to effectively collect, analyze, integrate and synthesize client information.
At a minimum to meet requirements, the CFP professional must maintain this knowledge and skill by keeping up with changes in economic, political and regulatory environments and any changes in the financial services industry and areas of specific technical knowledge. The CFP professional must then effectively incorporate these changes into the services provided to clients.
The CFP professional has made a commitment to continuous learning and professional development. This may take the form of relevant industry conferences, seminars, courses; research, writing, teaching or mentoring others; reading periodicals, journals and other sources of relevant information; or consulting with experts and industry peers.
There are many methods for a CFP professional to maintain and build competence throughout her career, which will allow her to maintain her ability to effectively serve her clients. Continuing education, though important, is but one method that should be considered.
Competence is not just about what knowledge the CFP professional has acquired and maintains, but is also about how she acts. Competence must be demonstrated in every client interaction. If, at any time, a CFP professional does not feel that she can adequately fulfill her obligations to a client, she must remove herself from that engagement either temporarily or on a permanent basis.
CFP professionals must fully consider available data when providing recommendations, and be able to justify going against prevailing data if the situation merits an alternative approach.
A CFP professional also knows the limits of her knowledge and skill and seeks advice from qualified professionals when specialized knowledge or expertise is required. CFP professionals are not expected to be experts in all domains that affect a client’s financial health, and must not represent themselves in this way. They are expected to work with knowledge gained from analysis and from experts to guide the client to solutions which meet the client’s objectives.