Start Studying for That CFP, Your Boss Is Watching

A new test prep program is intuitive, responsive to student performance and the structure is analogous to the program for the CFA exam, said Dirk Pantone, the President at College for Financial Planning.

(Illustration by RIA Intel)

(Illustration by RIA Intel)

Since Kaplan purchased the College for Financial Planning last year, the combined companies have been busy: They’ve fused together their education programs for the CFP exam and created a more sophisticated product rolling out this fall to a meaningful number of all test-takers.

One-third of all students seeking the designation will be doing so via the College for Financial Planning’s new program. The first live online classes will start in November, putting advisors on track to take the CFP certification examination in November of 2020. The self-study options will be available in January.

“We had two good programs and really didn’t want to mess up either one. I think this is going to be one of the biggest steps forward for this space in decades,” said Dirk Pantone, the President at College for Financial Planning.

Kaplan, the for-profit education company that offers degree programs as well as preparation for a multitude of exams, licenses, and certifications, has imbued the College for Financial Planning with its sophisticated technology and analytics, Pantone said.

Unlike before, practice activities will automatically adapt to each student and focus their attention on subjects they need to be more knowledgeable about. Over a series of practice exams, the nature of them could change substantially if, say, a student proves they have a firm grasp of tax planning but lacks in others areas, like risk management. Most are about 30 questions long.

Pantone said the primary objective was to deliver what students needed to perform on the exam “and nothing more.”

“We didn’t’ want to go a mile deep on something you only need to go 10 feet deep on for the exam.”

More video courses will be available on demand and with closed captioning which students – especially those whose second language is English – find helpful while trying to soak up information, according to Pantone.

Employers will also be able to monitor students’ progress toward becoming a CFP certificate holder through the program dashboard, a feature previously available as part of the education program for the CFA exam. In many cases, students are already employed by a wealth manager that has an agreement in place with an educator like Kaplan, which works with more than 10,000 companies globally.

“That was one of the most difficult things to define” because agreements between education companies and corporate partners are not all the same, Pantone said.

The public program has three price tiers. A Premium program, including live online instruction and recorded lectures, for $7,199; the EssentialPlus program with video instruction for $6,499; and a self-study option for $4,193 ($599 per course).

Costs for students enrolled in Kaplan’s old public program will remain the same throughout its completion. Legacy students of the old College for Financial Planning program will pay slightly less than they were before.

“The College for Financial Planning is one of the largest providers of CFP education and this announcement further underscores their commitment to their students and the CFP certification itself,” Mary Kay Svedberg, director of Education at the CFP Board, said in a statement.

The CFP Board, which has nearly 85,000 CFP designees, assigned a veteran Texas securities regulator last month to lead a newly-created task force that will examine and modernize its enforcement practices following a Wall Street Journal story that detailed shortcomings of the CFP Board’s website.

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