Difference Between CFA® and CFP
Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) are some of the most prestigious designations for any aspiring financial advisor. While CFP helps develop wealth management and financial planning skills, CFA focuses on developing skills for asset allocation, investment analysis, portfolio strategy, and corporate finance.
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CFA vs CFP Infographics
CFA vs CFP – Comparative Table
|Organizing Body||CFA Institute||CFP Board|
|Pattern||Divided into 3 levels – level I, level II, and level III||Only 1 level|
|Duration of Course||4 years||3 years|
|Exam fees||$700-$1,000 per level plus $450 one-time registration||$825-$1,025|
|Difficulty||2019 Pass Rates
||2019 Pass Rates
|Exam Date||2021 Calendar
CFA vs CFP – Which is Better?
One of the most important questions that come to our mind is – which is a better option out of CFA and CFP? The answer is that both are highly admired designations in the field of financial advisory. Any candidate with either CFA charter or CFP mark becomes skilful at handling the financial future of the client. Hence, the choice between CFA and CFP should be purely based on career aspiration as either of the courses can offer an exciting career in finance. So, let us dive in deeper to understand the two designations in more detail in the following sections.
After becoming a CFA charter holder, a candidate develops excellent excel modelling skills, analytical ability, decision-making skills, and communication skills. Similarly, a CFP mark holder also acquires strategic thinking, sales & marketing, relationship management, and communication skills.
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An aspiring CFA candidate needs to clear 3 levels of examinations and 4 years of professional experience, which can be completed before, during, or after completion of CFA. Hence, the entire CFA program can be completed in a span of 4 years. On the other hand, a candidate who enrolled for CFP needs to clear just 1 level but has to complete 6,000 hours of professional experience, and hence the CFP program can be completed over a period of 3 years.
Eligibility or Experience Required
To become a CFA charter holder, one must complete a bachelor’s degree and have at least 4 years of relevant professional experience. However, there is a flexibility to combine education and professional experience, sequential and not overlapping, to meet the 4-year requirement. On the other hand, a CFP aspirant must have a bachelor’s degree and 6,000 hours of relevant professional experience or 4,000 hours of apprentice experience.
The CFA program is divided into three levels. There is a little bit of overlapping of topics among the three levels. Level I focuses on financial principles, Level II emphasizes financial analysis & accounting, and Level III helps build portfolio management and decision-making skills. The overall syllabus CFA program includes financial reporting & analysis, ethical & professional standards, economics, derivatives, equity valuation, quantitative methods, fixed income, alternative investments, corporate finance, portfolio management, etc. On the other hand, the CFP Board mandates the course curriculum to include professional conduct & regulation, general principles of financial planning, investment planning, education planning, retirement savings & income planning, risk management & insurance planning, tax planning, estate planning, financial planning, etc.
Career Opportunity and Salary
A CFA charter holder is offered a job in finance and investment as a portfolio manager, research analyst, consultant, corporate financial analyst, investment banking analyst, relationship manager, financial advisor, etc. On the other hand, as a CFP designation holder, a candidate is offered the role of a financial planner, financial advisor, estate planner, trading & research associate, financial consultant, financial analyst, financial representative, etc.
In the US, the salary of CFA charterholders varies in the range of $56,500 and $120,500 per annum, with an average salary of $95,494. On the other hand, the salary of CFPs varies in the range of $62,500 and $94,500 per annum, with an average salary of $83,123.
Fees and Passing Rates
The CFA exam fees lie in the range of $700 to $1,000 per exam depending on the time of registration. Additionally, there is a $450 one-time registration fee, which means that a CFA program’s total fees will be between $2,550 and $3,450. On the other hand, a CFP program costs between $825 and $1,025 depending on registration time.
Both the exams are equally difficult as can be seen from their moderate pass rate. During 2019, the pass rates for the CFA exams were – Level I: 41%, Level II: 44%, and Level III: 56%. For CFP, the overall pass rate in 2019 stood at 62%, while that of the first-time exam takers was 66%.
The exams for the three levels of CFA takes place several times during a year. In 2021, the exam schedule is as follows:
|Feb 2021||May 2021||Aug 2021||Nov 2021|
|Level I||Feb 16- Mar 1||May 18-24||Aug 24-30||Nov 16-22|
|Level II||May 25- Jun 1||Aug 31- Sep 4|
|Level III||May 25- Jun 1||Nov 23-25|
The exams for CFP take place three times in a year – March, July, and November. In 2021, it is scheduled to take place during Mar 9-16, Jul 6-13, and Nov 2-9.
CFA vs CFP – How to Enroll?
- Create an account at the CFA Institute website before the exam registration. However, if one plans to apply for any scholarship, then they should register much earlier.
- Make the fee payment for the relevant exam.
- Schedule testing appointment.
- Create an account at the CFP Board website and complete the exam registration form.
- Make the payment for the registration fee.
- Schedule testing appointment.
CFA vs CFP, whatever your end choice may be, let it be an informed one. This decision is for your career and hence keep in mind all these pros and cons. I hope I could help in whatever little I could. All the very best :-)
This has been a guide to CFA vs CFP. Here we discuss the top difference between CFA and CFP careers, examination pattern, pass rates, fees, and job opportunities. If you wish to evaluate other financial certifications, you can also checkout –