Updated on April 22, 2024
Article byWallstreetmojo Team
Edited byPallabi Banerjee
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What Is CFP Vs CS?

CFP Board offers CFP or Certified Financial Planner.This course is best for finance professionals willing to assist their clients with financial planning services. In contrast, CS or Company Secretary is offered by the ICSI (Institute of Company Secretary of India). This course is best for aspirants willing to gain corporate law and finance expertise.


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Deciding on a career is never easy. We understand. Therefore, here is an opportunity to weigh the merits and demerits of both and choose what suits you the best. Read about these two credentials in the accounting and finance profession. We hope this can help steer the candidates in the right direction in their careers.

CFP Vs CS Explained

The Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Company Secretary (CS) are two different type of financial courses that provide expertise in two distinct career paths in the corporate and financial sector. The CFP focus on the financial planning and advisory services that can be provided to individuals and thri families. The CS has the expertise in the corporate governance field and ensure that the company and its policies comply with the rules and regulations and legal status.

Finance professionals keen on helping their clients with their financial planning would better opt for the CFP as a career. That will also allow adding skills and knowledge in the area and a huge trust across the industry concerning the financial planning roles.

These experts can penetrate the market very fast since they need to provide their expertise to individuals and families regarding investment and retirement planning, real estate and tax management as well as insurance. They work as advisors and wealth managers either independently or in firms. This certification of CFP is offered by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board) in the US and many countries recognize it.

The Company Secretary program is a tougher nut to crack and more suitable for gaining corporate law and finance expertise. However, this certified course brings plenty of opportunities to work in an advisory role to the Board of Directors and other credible positions associated with devising and implementing corporate governance policies. These experts work in both private and public companies and their job depends on the nature and size of the organization.

Candidates who pursue any one of these two career paths, have completely different aspirations and interests in their careers within the corporate world.

What Is CFP?

Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is awarded by the US-based Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc., or CFP Board. CFP Board is affiliated with more than 25 organizations globally, granting this certification. The certified professionals are known as international owners of CFP. However, candidates should keep in mind that the USA and UK boards have different eligibility criteria for this certification.

A professional should first fulfill the educational criteria and have adequate professional financial planning experience before appearing for the exam to earn this credential. The certification holders must also adhere to the ethical standards and code of ethics, as defined by the CFP Board. This certification helps prepare finance professionals to work in the capacity of financial planners for their clients.

What Is CS?

Company Secretary (CS) is a professional designation awarded by the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) to complete foundation, executive, and professional program-level exams. A Company Secretary usually acts as the chief advisor to the Board of Directors in matters of legal import. Therefore, they are expected to be experts in corporate laws, securities laws, and corporate governance matters.

A Company Secretary must have the required proficiency in corporate laws and communicate with a high-efficiency level to fulfill his role with greater efficacy. However, a Company Secretary does not have the power to legally represent or defend their client or the company in matters of any legal dispute. A Company Secretary is also responsible for all the issues related to regulatory compliance and deals with corporate values of strategic significance.

CFP Vs CS Infographics

Let us understand the difference between CFP vs. CS with the help of infographics. This will make the differentiation process between the two concepts very clear and easy to interpret in a concise manner.

CFP Vs CS Infographics

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Entry Requirements

Let us study the requirements for enrolling into the courses for skill and knowledge enhancement in the financial field.


Educational Criteria: Candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree accredited by a body recognized by the US Department of Education. However, a bachelor’s degree is a requisite for initial certification, not a requirement to appear for the CFP Certification Exam. It consists of five years of passing the CFP Certification Exam. A candidate is required to verify their bachelor’s degree details with the CFP Board.

Additionally, a candidate must have undergone a college-level program in personal financial planning or relevant equivalent, including the financial plan development course, registered with the CFP Board.

To ensure a professional can deliver quality services to the clients, a candidate must possess three to five years of professional experience in financial planning to earn the authority to use the CFP marks.


The eligibility criteria for securing the foundation program are 10+2 pass or equivalent students from any stream (Arts, Commerce, Science) except Fine Arts. After completing the foundation program, the candidate can pursue the executive course. A candidate with a bachelor’s degree or a postgraduate degree in any stream (except Fine Arts) can enroll directly at the executive level. But, one can pursue the professional program only after completing the executive class.

Comparative Table

The comparative table given below shows the differences between the two topics in a detailed manner, keeping in mind the various criterias based on which comparisons can be made.

Organizing BodyThe Certified Financial Planner Board (CFP Board) of Standards Inc., USA, manages and controls the CFP exams.The Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI), India, operates and regulates the CS exams.
PatternThe course consists of only one level.The course is divided into three levels: –
• Foundation course (only for undergraduates)
• Executive program
• Professional program
Duration of CourseMost candidates take approximately three years to complete the course.Most candidates take around 2 to 3 years to complete the course.
SyllabusThe syllabus of the course covers the following knowledge topics:
• General Principles of Financial Planning
• Estate Planning
• Education Planning
• Investment Planning
• Retirement Savings & Income Planning
• Tax Planning
• Professional Conduct & Regulation
• Risk Management & Insurance Planning

The syllabus covers the following papers:
• Governance, Risk Management & Compliances
• Business Management & Entrepreneurship
• Accounting & Auditing
• Business Economics
• General & Commercial Laws
• Company & Tax Laws
• Setting up & Closure of Businesses
• Corporate Reconstructing, Insolvency, Liquidation & Winding-up
• Financial & Strategic Management
• Securities Laws & Capital Markets
• Resolution of Corporate Disputes
Exam FeesThe cost of the course may vary depending on the time of registration. The exam fees for early, standard, and late registration are $825, $925, and $1,025, respectively.The cost of the course may vary from $400 to $500. Additionally, commerce graduates and ICAI members are eligible for certain exemptions.
JobsSome of the common profiles include:
• Estate Planner
• Retirement Planner
• Investment Planner
• Legal Financial Manager
• Risk Manager
Some of the common profiles include:
• Legal Experts
• Strategic Manager
• Corporate Planner
• Chief Advisor to Board
• Executive Secretary to MD/ CEO
DifficultyAs indicated from a historical pass rate of more than 60%, the difficulty level of the CFP exams is moderate. The overall pass rate for the exams conducted in 2019 was 62%, while that for the first-timers was 66%.The difficulty level of the exams is quite high, as reflected by very low pass rates. For example, the pass rates for the professional program exams conducted during June 2019 were 8% to 17%.
Exam DateThe forthcoming coming exams for the year 2022 are scheduled for March 08- March 15, July 12- July 19, and November 01- November 08.The forthcoming exams for the year 2022 will commence on June 01.

Why Pursue CFP?

CFP is a highly coveted designation that adds to financial planners’ credibility in the view of their prospective employers and their clients. It is a globally acknowledged credential that helps financial planners enhance their knowledge and skill sets to better serve individuals by acquiring an in-depth understanding of personal financial planning needs.

Financial planning is not the sole domain of financially affluent individuals in an increasingly transparent modern setting. A financial planner has to guide an average individual to realize their financial goals by strategically utilizing available resources.

Why Pursue CS?

Undoubtedly, CS is a highly reputed designation that takes a lot of hard work to pass the exams themselves. However, besides being a tough nut to crack, the trust and credibility invested in this designation are more valuable. Practically, a company Managing Director or Chief Executive Officer is supposed to hold the views of the Company Secretary on matters of legal significance and seek their advice to plan the company’s corporate governance policies. Hence, this designation enjoys global recognition and enables a high level of credibility and responsibility for any professional.

You may also refer to this complete guide on CS exams for more details.

This article has been a guide to what is CFP Vs CS. We explain what each of them mean in details along with infographics, entry requirements & comparative table. You can learn more from the following articles: –

Reader Interactions


  1. Jacob says

    This was something very interesting to know about CFP and CS. Thanks for sharing your knowledge this was very useful for me and I am sure most of your readers would have liked this. Can you also explain me the difference between CA and CS, as I am very confused between these two courses.

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Thanks for your kind words and I am glad you liked this. To know the differences and detailed information about CA and CS you go through this article – CA vs CS. Here you will get all the answers for your questions. Enjoy Reading!!

  2. Ellis Cole says

    Thanks for sharing this article which really has something new to learn. And I have also read all the related articles you have mentioned below but I was looking for the comparison between CFP and CWM i.e Chartered Wealth Manager. Please share me the same if you have.

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Thanks for your kind words. To know the differences between CFP and CWM you can read this article CFP vs CWM. Happy learning!!