Hi guys, welcome to an insightful session comparing the CFP to the ChFC certification.

After reading this article to the end, you’ll have become an expert in differentiating between these two professional designations and making a well-informed decision.

Specifically, we will beam our searchlight on the following areas:

ChFC vs CFP: Educational requirements
CFP vs ChFC: Exam requirements
Earning potential of both designations
How to choose between a CFP and ChFC

Without much ado, let’s elaborate on these differences.

CFP vs ChFC: General Education Requirements

Asian college graduate

Before the comparison, it’s pertinent to note a thin line between the certified financial planner (CFP) and the chartered financial consultant (ChFC) licenses.

The ChFC designation was introduced in 1982 as an alternative to the CFP.

However, the CFP remains the most popular designation in financial planning for financial advisors.

Both certifications aren’t much different in terms of job descriptions, and they’re some of the best designations for financial advisors.

The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board) issues the CFP designation, while the American College of Financial Services oversees the chartered financial consultant certification.

A CFP hopeful must have a bachelor’s degree in any field from an accredited university or college.

Preferably, you pursue a degree program in accounting, mathematics, business administration, or any other related subject.

CFP candidates with no financial planning educational background will also take these core courses.

A bachelor’s degree qualifies you for the first coursework in a CFP Board-endorsed program.

You’ll then complete relevant estate planning, tax planning, insurance, and retirement planning courses.

You’ll also take a capstone course.

However, the education doesn’t stop after your certification; you must engage in continuing education program biennially to keep your credential active.

Financial professionals who earn the CFP certification are insurance agents, investment advisers, financial advisors, and brokers.

On the other hand, a high-school diploma is a minimum requirement for the chartered financial consultant course.

However, most ChFC candidates are non-traditional students already experienced in personal financial planning and college-level qualifications.

Candidates will take insurance planning, retirement planning, investment planning, and personal finance management courses to earn this comprehensive financial planning designation.

ChFC hopefuls need to pass eight specific courses before being certified.

The courses are:

  • financial planning—processes & environment,
  • fundamentals of insurance,
  • income taxation,
  • planning for retirement,
  • investments,
  • fundamentals of estate planning,
  • personal financial planning, and
  • contemporary issues in financial planning.

You may also take some elective courses to entrench your understanding of a given specialty.

For instance, you may take a course on meeting clients’ special needs.

You may take the ChFC courses online and schedule them at the most convenient time.

The ChFC designation is beneficial to professionals such as tax agents, stockbrokers, loan officers, estate planners, accountants, bankers, and investment advisers.

ChFC license holders must also participate in continuing education like their CFP counterparts to keep their certification active.

The primary difference between the CFP and the ChFC educational programs is that the latter is lengthier than the former.

Exam Requirements for CFP and ChFC

After taking the approved course(s), you’ll sit the exam to get certified.

The CFP and the chartered financial consultant exams take different formats.

You must pass the Board exam to earn the CFP marks.

The CFP exam assesses your financial planning understanding and how you use the knowledge in real-life scenarios.

Candidates are to answer 170 multiple-choice questions in six hours.

You must use a CFP calculator for the exam, but it’s advisable to use it during the preparatory stage to familiarize yourself with it.

The proctored examination is conducted a year thrice.

The 2022 editions will take place on March 8-15, July 12-19, and November 1-8.

Candidates should prepare well for this comprehensive exam to stand a chance of passing it at a go.

However, after completing each course, ChFC candidates will take a short test before sitting a final comprehensive exam of 100 multiple-choice questions.

Invariably, the ChFC exam consists of eight tests and one comprehensive exam.

The final exam tests students’ practical understanding of the ChFC courses.

Your tutor will ask you to use suitable financial planning topics to complete case studies in the final course.

Hence, the fundamental difference here is that the CFP exam is at a level and more comprehensive, while the ChFC exam is decentralized.

CFP and ChFC Exam Difficulty Levels

The American College ChFC exam and the CFP test are moderately simple to pass for adequately prepared candidates.

The average pass rate for the CFP is 62%, while the average for the ChFC is 65%.

The ChFC is a bit higher because the test is decentralized; candidates take the exam immediately after the course before moving to the next.

CFP Salary vs ChFC Salary

The average hourly wage of ChFC credential holders is $25, while the annual average is $51,826.

The 25th percentile earns $17,500 annually, while the highest earners make about $122,000 per annum.

However, the average annual salary of CFP mark holders is $67,926.

The 10% in the lowest part of the radar make an average of $48,000 annually, while the top 10% earners make more than $114,000 annually.

Both CFPs and ChFCs charge commissions for assets under management (AUM) and are eligible for bonuses.

Hence, the amount you make at the end of the day depends on how far you can stretch yourself and the possibilities you open your mind to.

Experience Requirements

You can’t earn either certification without meeting the prerequisite experience.

You need at least three years of experience to earn either the CFP or the ChFC.

For the CFP, a candidate must record 6,000 hours of professional experience or 4,000 hours of an apprenticeship program to meet the requirements.

If you choose the apprenticeship experience, you will need to fulfill more requirements.

On the other hand, the American College substitutes the chartered financial consultant requirements.

For instance, they may count an undergraduate or graduate degree as a year of professional experience.

Fiduciary Standards

Fiduciary Standards

CFP candidates are subject to the fiduciary standard of the CFP Board.

The standard dictates the ethics of professional conduct that a CFP holder must follow during official services.

The standard dictates that a financial planner must be loyal and care for their clients.

The financial professional must also do the bidding of the client.

The essence of the standard is to ensure that financial planners don’t shortchange clients for their selfish purpose.

Any professional who falls short of the standard is liable to face the Board’s sanctions.

However, a ChFC holder is subject to the American College of Financial Services code of ethics.

The code of ethics also compels consultants to act in clients’ interests and ethically at all times.

ChFC candidates take the ethics pledge before being given their license to practice.

The American College sanctions any consultant that doesn’t follow ethical standards.

Choosing Between the CFP and the ChFC

If you’re at a crossroads on the certification to choose between the ChFC and the CFP, here are some points to take into cognizance:

Stay Focused on Your Career Aspirations

Your career goals should guide you before applying for either of these top financial certifications.

What do you want to achieve in your career?

The two certifications for financial advisors endorse your understanding of financial planning and risk management, but which appellation do you want clients to know you for?

The CFP is the most popular certification in the industry, and many advisors prefer it to the ChFC.

However, you may earn the two certifications.

Since the courses are similar, you can easily earn both certifications by mastering the content.

Reflect on the Coursework You Want to Undertake

We said in the preceding section that the two certifications have similar courses, but the contents and style of the classes differ.

While you must complete CFP courses through a Board-endorsed program, ChFC courses are self-paced, making them flexible.

Be Futuristic about Your Education

Some professionals choose to earn multiple designations.

Some advisors earn the ChFC designation to buy time to prepare well for the CFP, but it’s vice versa in some other instances.

Before you put in for any certification, take time to ask yourself what you intend after that program.

Is it the only designation you need for your career, or do you want to earn more?

Earning multiple certifications will endear you to more clients and attract respect in the industry.

For instance, after earning your CFP, if you meet the ChFC requirements, you may put in for it.

The CFP and ChFC certifications are helpful for those who want to earn the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) appellation.

The American College also issues the CLU, which is about life insurance.

You may earn other financial advisor certifications, including the certified public accountant (CPA) and the chartered financial analyst (CFA).

The CFA is also called the chartered financial advisor or chartered financial adviser in some climes.

The CFA program is a three-level exam that assesses a candidate’s understanding of wealth management, asset valuation, and portfolio management.

The CFA Institute believes that you must be adept in the three areas to give excellent financial advice.

Similar to the CFA is the chartered financial planner designation issued by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII).

In conclusion, the interrelatedness of the certifications you want to earn will determine which to go for first.

Brood on Your Learning Style

Brood on Your Learning Style

How do you prefer to learn and perform in exams?

Though the CFP and ChFC have similar requirements, you’ll take a course-specific test in the latter.

It doesn’t have a final comprehensive exam like the CFP.

If you prefer to take short tests after each course, the ChFC is the best for you, but if you like being tested comprehensively after a program, you may go for the CFP.


We discussed the features of the CFP and the ChFC to distinguish between the two closely related designations.

The two certifications are subject to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), an independent, nonprofit organization that ensures clients get the best services always.

We established that the CFP remains the most popular advisor certification, but the ChFC introduced as an alternative some four decades ago with a high standard.

To define CFP, we must first understand its requirements in the financial industry, which we did in this comparative piece.

What’s a CFP or ChFC without the prerequisite knowledge to serve clients’ needs?

We emphasized the need for excellence all through this piece!

You shouldn’t just acquire certifications for the sake of showing off, but learn the course content thoroughly to make your services irresistible to clients!





Smart Asset

US News


All Posts

career employers editorial process

Here at career employer, we focus a lot on providing factually accurate information that is always up to date. We strive to provide correct information using strict editorial processes, article editing and fact checking for all of the information found on our website. We only utilize trustworthy and relevant resources. To find out more, make sure to read our full editorial process page here.

Leave a Comment

How Career Employer Collects Its Data

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nulla quam velit, vulputate eu pharetra nec, mattis ac neque. Duis vulputate commodo lectus, ac blandit elit tincidunt id.