ChFC CFP Comparison Page

Both designations provide a valuable core of financial planning knowledge through seven shared courses.
Know what sets ChFC® and CFP® apart.
Issuing Organization
The American College of Financial Services
Number of Credential Holders (Approximate)
55,000
Foundational Financial Planning Topics Covered
Basic financial planning, insurance planning, income taxation, retirement planning, investments, estate planning fundamentals
Modern Financial Planning Topics Covered
Small business planning, planning for divorcees and clients with special needs, behavioral finance, planning for non-married families, same-sex families, and blended families
Number of Required Courses
8
Testing
One exam after each course
Comprehensive Examination
Not required
Tax Status
Nonprofit
Accreditation
Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
Governance
American College Code of Ethics
Annual Fee
$125 (covers any/all designation from The American College)
CE Requirement
30 hours every two years, including one hour of ethics CE
Academic Requirement
High school diploma; some college or degree equivalent preferred due to the rigor of the coursework
Issuing Organization
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards
Number of Credential Holders (Approximate)
78,000
Foundational Financial Planning Topics Covered
Basic financial planning, insurance planning, income taxation, retirement planning, investments, estate planning fundamentals
Modern Financial Planning Topics Covered
Not covered
Number of Required Courses
7
Testing
One exam after each course
Comprehensive Examination
CFP Board Exam required; held three times annually
Tax Status
Nonprofit
Accreditation
National Commission for Certifiying Agencies (NCCA)
Governance
CFP Board fiduciary standard (as of Oct. 2019)
Annual Fee
$355
CE Requirement
30 hours every two years, including three hours of ethics CE
Academic Requirement
Four-year degree or better

Have questions? Call 888-795-6306 or complete the form below.

General Information

The ChFC® designation emphasizes a modern, applications-based approach to financial planning delivered through comprehensive case studies. The ChFC® education mirrors that of the CFP® certification education -- both programs have the same initial seven courses. To earn the ChFC®, students must complete one additional course, Contemporary Applications in Financial Planning (HS 347). All ChFC® courses are available through a variety of study options, including classic self-study and enhanced webinar courses. Optional Intensive Review Program (IRP) components include two full days of comprehensive live review with an onsite instructor and exam can be added to your course package.

If you have already earned the ChFC® designation, then you have met the educational requirements to sit for the CFP Board exam, which is held three times annually. In addition to completing the CFP® certification education requirements, to earn the CFP® certification you must verify with the CFP Board that you hold a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university.  Per the CFP Board, the accreditation must be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education at the time the degree is awarded. The coursework requirement must be completed before you sit for the CFP® exam; the bachelor’s degree requirement may be completed after passing the exam (within five years).

The American College of Financial Services is one of the nation's top providers of CFP® certification education. Learn from expert faculty who know the CFP Board Exam inside and out. All CFP® courses are available through a variety of study options, including classic self-study and enhanced webinar courses. Optional Intensive Review Program (IRP) components include two full days of comprehensive live review with an onsite instructor and exam can be added to your course package. The College also offers a "boot camp" style review course for the CFP Board Exam. Held online or live, these review sessions are a highly effective way to prepare for the big exam.

Yes. CFP® license holders in good standing with the CFP Board may successfully complete Contemporary Applications in Financial Planning (HS 347) and earn the ChFC® designation. Additionally, a student who has completed the required CFP® certification education courses, but who has not passed the CFP Board Exam, may also complete HS 347 to earn the ChFC® designation.

Please contact an Academic Advisor by calling 888-795-6306 or by using the form below to learn about tuition reduction opportunities, special company pricing, and other promotional offers for ChFC® and CFP® certification education.

Students should expect to spend about 40 hours studying for each course in the ChFC® or CFP® programs. Additionally, the capstone ChFC® course, Contemporary Applications in Financial Planning (HS 347), is a lengthier course and will require extra study time to complete. Students who finish their CFP® certification education will also need to allow time to study for the comprehensive CFP Board Exam, which must be passed to earn the CFP® certification. The American College of Financial Services regularly offers a program called Express Pass for CFP®, which puts students on a 12-month plan to complete the CFP® certification education in time to sit for one of the three annual CFP Board Exams. Please call 888-795-6306 to inquire about current Express Pass promotions or to learn more about how long it takes to earn a ChFC® or CFP® certification.

Founded in 1927, The American College of Financial Services is the nation’s largest nonprofit educational institution devoted to financial services. Holding the highest level of academic accreditation, The College has educated approximately one in five financial advisors across the United States. The College is the exclusive provider of the ChFC® designation and a top provider of CFP® certification education. The College also provides premium financial planning designations, including CLU®, RICP®, CAP®, and WMCP®, and accredited master's degree programs. Learn more at TheAmericanCollege.edu.