Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the Personal Financial Planning Certificate Programs?
2. What is the purpose of the Personal Financial Planning Certificate Programs?
3. What Personal Financial Planning Certificates are being offered?
4. Who is eligible to obtain Personal Financial Planning Certificates?
5. What is required to obtain the certificates?
6. What If I don’t want to take the certificate exam?
7. Do I need to take the education or certificates in any order of priority?
8. How can I get the PFS credential?
9. Who can I contact to register a group?
10. How should I prepare for the certificate exam?
11. If I don’t pass the exam the first time, can I retake the certificate exam?
12. Will my certificate exam scores be published?
13. How will I be notified of my results?
14. How will I receive my certificate(s)?
15. When can the certificate exams be taken?
16. Where can the certificate exams be taken?
17. Do you earn CPE credit for time spent sitting for the certificate exams?
18. How do I apply for the certificate program?
19. What is the format of the exams?
20. Are the PFS certificate exams open book?
21. How long will it take to complete each certificate exam?
22. How long do I have to take the certificate exam after I purchase it?
23. Who can I contact if I have additional questions about the certificate programs?

 

1. What are the Personal Financial Planning Certificate Programs?

The Personal Financial Planning Certificate Programs are a combination of education bundles and certificate exams that provide the opportunity to enhance PFP knowledge, earn CPE credit and obtain digital badges to demonstrate your competency. They also serve as an alternative pathway to the Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) credential.

2. What is the purpose of the Personal Financial Planning Certificate Programs?

The Personal Financial Planning Certificate Programs have three different purposes:

  1. Certificates: You can display your competence and understanding in one or more core areas of PFP by displaying a digital badge awarded upon completion of each certificate requirement.
  2. Education: If CPE and continuing education is your goal, you can purchase the education bundle or individual courses alone, without the certificate exam, and simply earn continuing education for your CPA license, PFS credential, and/or CFP® credential.
  3. Credential: If you are an active CPA desiring to obtain the PFS credential, the certificate program provides an alternative pathway to meeting the exam and education requirements. Obtaining the five certificates with the education identifies you as a PFS Credential Candidate until you obtain the required experience.

3. What Personal Financial Planning Certificates are being offered?

There are five certificates:

  • Retirement Planning Certificate
  • Investment Planning Certificate
  • Risk Management and Insurance Planning Certificate
  • Estate Planning Certificate
  • PFP Practical Applications

4. Who is eligible to obtain Personal Financial Planning Certificates?

Anyone can obtain the certificates. However, only active CPAs can use the certificate program as an alternative pathway to obtain the CPA/PFS credential.

5. What is required to obtain the certificates?

There are two ways to earn the four technical certificates (retirement, investment, estate, risk management/insurance planning):

  • By completing the education bundle and passing the certificate exam, an online proctored exam taken from the convenience of your home or office.
  • By passing the certificate exam using your knowledge from prior education or experience.

There is also no prescribed order for the certificates. Certificate exams are online and proctored remotely via webcam and audio (either laptop or USB external) anytime 7 days a week throughout the year. If you do not pass the exam the first time, one free re-take is included at no extra charge.

The PFP Practical Application Certificate is earned upon successful completion of the continuing education courses. No exam is required.

6. What If I don’t want to take the certificate exam?

If continuing education is your goal, you can simply purchase and complete the education bundle or any individual course, without the certificate exam, and simply earn CPE. If you hold the CPA/PFS credential, there is no need to take the certificate exam, as your CPA/PFS credential exam tests the material covered in the individual certificates.

7. Do I need to take the education or certificates in any order of priority?

There is also no prescribed order for the education or certificate programs.

8. How can I get the PFS credential?

Obtain each of the five certificates on your own schedule. Take the learning associated with each certificate to meet the overall credential education requirement. Obtaining all of the certificates makes you a PFS Credential Candidate; you only need to complete the experience requirement to obtain the PFS credential. For more information on the PFS credential go to www.aicpa.org/pfs.

9. Who can I contact to register a group?

You can contact a representative by completing a brief Online Form, calling 800.634.6780 (option 1) for information, or emailing aicpalearning@aicpa.org.

10. How should I prepare for the certificate exam?

Complete the optional education bundle if you feel that prior education or experience has not adequately prepared you. Experienced practitioners should consider taking the relevant PFP Boot Camp course as a review for the respective exams.

11. If I don’t pass the exam the first time, can I retake the certificate exam?

Yes, you get one retake of the certificate exam at no extra cost. If you do not pass after this retake, you will need to purchase another certificate exam to take it again (includes 2 attempts as well).

12. Will my certificate exam scores be published?

No, the exam is a pass/fail exam and the raw data score is not published. You are the only one notified whether you passed or failed.

13. How will I be notified of my results?

You will receive a pass/fail notice on the screen at the end of the exam, and an email copy of your exam results will be sent to you as well.

14. How will I receive my certificate(s)?

Your certificate will be issued electronically as a digital badge. For information on how digital badges work, please see this video and our Digital Badge page.

15. When can the certificate exams be taken?

Certificate exams are available on demand from time of purchase. There are no testing windows for these programs; however, exams need to be scheduled in advance. The exams can be taken 24 hours a day from Monday 5:30am through midnight Friday night, and on weekends from 5:30am to 11:30 pm.

16. Where can the certificate exams be taken?

Certificate exams can be taken in the convenience of your home or office on your own computer. Since it is a web-based proctored exam, you will be required to have both a microphone and a web camera (either laptop or USB external) connected to your computer. When you schedule your exam, you will be prompted to download a proprietary security program to your computer on which the exam will be presented. You will need administrator rights to load this software on the computer.

17. Do you earn CPE credit for time spent sitting for the certificate exams?

No, CPE credit is not available for taking the certificate exams. NASBA does not allow CPE credit to be awarded for stand-alone exams.

You can obtain CPE credit by completing the learning associated with each certificate.

18. How do I apply for the certificate program?

There is no formal application process for this certificate program. Interested individuals can purchase the education and exams online.

19. What is the format of the exams?

The exams are multiple choice format.

20. Are the PFS certificate exams open book?

No, they are not open book. The exams are virtually proctored via webcam to prevent using external materials.

21. How long will it take to complete each certificate exam?

You will have 100 minutes to complete each exam.

22. How long do I have to take the certificate exam after I purchase it?

You have one year (365 days) from the date of purchase to complete the exam(s). Also, on the CPE learning, you have one year (365 days) from the date you purchase each CPE course to finish the requirements to obtain your CPE.

23. Who can I contact if I have additional questions about the certificate programs?

Please email CertificatePrograms@aicpa.org to get answers for any additional questions you may have.