Financial Certification and Certificate Program Options

Essential Information

Most personal financial adviser and financial planner programs require applicants to possess a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, or economics or the equivalent prior to admission. It is also essential that applicants have a functional understanding of basic mathematics techniques as they relate to economic and financial concepts. Earning certification in the field can help aspiring financial planners obtain work and clients. It is possible to complete the programs online, as well.

Certificate in Financial Planning

Financial planning certificate programs prepare students to become professional financial experts who assist clients, whether individuals or organizations, in planning for financial security. Most financial planning certificate programs prepare graduates to sit for the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Certification Examination.

Courses in financial planning certificate programs offer students training in the breadth of coursework necessary for certification as a financial planner. Courses are generally relevant to those both experienced in financial planning and those new to the field. Common courses include:

  • Introduction to financial planning
  • Insurance risk management
  • Retirement planning and employee benefits
  • Estate planning
  • Income tax planning and individual financial planning
  • Stock investment

Certificate in Finance

A certificate in finance provides the student with a broad understanding of the world of modern finance, including financial management, economic theory and fiscal policy. As opposed to degree programs, the certificate in finance is seen as supplementary education for students with prior experience or seeking additional education. Graduates of these programs are prepared to help stabilize and strengthen the financial standing of their clients or business.

Many programs require students to be proficient with computer spreadsheet tools, such as Microsoft Excel. Some programs require students to complete a basic introductory financial accounting course prior to admission or to offer evidence of previous basic finance or economics coursework.

Courses in finance certificate programs are intended to provide a broad understanding of current financial practices. Students become fluent in terminology, methods and computer software used by financial managers. Course topics include:

  • Finance management
  • Financial decision making
  • Fundamentals of corporate finance
  • Developing financial strategies
  • Analyzing financial statements
  • Investment strategies and financial markets

Popular Career Options

Financial planning certificate programs are intended for individuals in financial fields who are seeking professional development or looking to establish a strong foundation in the field. Possible careers include:

  • Accountant
  • Banker
  • Stockbroker
  • Attorney
  • Financial planner

Certificate programs in finance are useful for those in general business looking to deepen their understanding of finance and for those in specific financial roles working independently or in a corporate environment.

  • Accounting professional
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • Securities broker
  • Personal finance manager

Certification as a Financial Planner

The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. (CFP Board) is the leading certifying organization for financial planners. To gain initial CFP certification, an individual must complete a CFP-approved education program, have at least three years of full-time financial planning work experience and pass the 10-hour, 3-part exam. The exam, a multiple-choice test offered three times each year at approximately 50 sites, tests the applicant's skills in handling common client situations in financial planning. Additionally, CFP requires applicants to pass the Candidate Fitness Standards, which includes both an ethics agreement and a background check.

Financial planning and finance certificates are the next step in education for those wanting a career in the field. These certificates can build upon the skills already learned in a bachelor's degree program and prepare you for board certification in the future.

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