Whats the Difference Between CFP and CFA?

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Even though it sounds similar, the CFA and CFP are totally different in field of work. The term CFA stands for Chartered Financial Analysts, while the term CFP stands for Certified Financial Planner. Both are some of the most prestigious designations for any aspiring financial advisor.

Basically, both are designed to tell a client or employer that the holder has received education in particular types of financial work. Although both are similar, there are some significant differences between both. If you want to know the differences between CFA and CFP, you can dive into our post to find the information. Let’s check it out!

Job Overview

A CFA basically works to help clients make investment decisions, invest their money and provide services to boost financial markets. The services here include asset management, trading, constructing and managing investment funds and portfolios, as well as the regulation of those systems.

Furthermore, a CFA helps clients make data or research-based decisions on investments, insurance product and estate planning, among other long-term and short-term financial planning goals.

A CFP typically helps clients plan their financial futures. CFPs not only focus on investment, but they also help their clients reach certain long-term financial goals such as buying a house, saving for retirement or starting a college fund for their children.

The CFP designation is awarded by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc., a nonprofit institution which sets and maintains standards for personal financial planning. They are also held up to a high ethical standard and also have a fiduciary obligation to make decisions which protect the financial interests of their clients.


Since CFA and CFA are different designation, of course, the requirements the candidates should meet are also different. Depending on what you want to be, you definitely need to know and identify what requirements you should meet either for becoming a CFA or CFP.

Here’s a list of CFA’s requirements to earn a CFA charter!

  • Must become a CFA Society member and also pay the annual membership dues.
  • Hold a bachelor’s degree and four years of professional work experience in an investment decision-making process.
  • Pass all three levels of exams
  • Have work in occupations that center on investing. This certification is advantageous in work which relates to investing and portfolio analysis.

Here’s a list of CFP’s requirements to earn a CFP certificate!

The CFP certification is supervised by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. Just like the CFA program, the CFP’s candidates should meet certain requirements.

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree and some college-level study in financial planning.
  • Have at least 6,000 hours of experience with financial planning or 4,000 hours through an apprenticeship program.
  • Pass exam that takes place during two three-hour sessions on a single day. The multiple-choice exam actually uses real-life situations to measure an applicant’s ability to use broad financial planning knowledge.
  • Have a CFP certification you can get through a number of financial advisor certifications.

Comparative of Exams, Courses, Duration

Section CFA CFP
Organizing Body CFA Institute CFP Board
Pattern Divided into three levels – level I, level II, and level III Only 1 level
Duration of Course Four years Three years
  • Financial Principles
  • Financial Analysis & Accounting
  • Portfolio Management
  • Personal Financial Planning
Exam fees $700-$1,000 per level plus $450 one-time registration $825-$1,025
  • Portfolio Manager
  • Corporate Financial Analyst
  • Research Analyst
  • Consultant
  • Estate Planner
  • Retirement Planner
  • Risk Manager
  • Financial Manager
Difficulty 2019 Pass Rates

  • Level I – 41%
  • Level II – 44%
  • Level III – 56%
2019 Pass Rates

  • 62% (Overall)
  • 66% (First-time test takers)
Exam Date 2022 Calendar

  • Level I – Feb 15-21, May 17-23, Aug 23-29, Nov
  • Level II – Feb 22-26, Aug 30- Sep 03, Nov
2022 Calendar

  • Mar 8 – 15
  • Jul 12 – 19
  • Nov 1 – 8

Career Opportunity and Salary

The job opportunity for CFA is in finance and investment as a portfolio manager, consultant, research analyst, investment banking analyst, corporate financial analyst, financial advisor, relationship manager, etc.

The job opportunity for CPF is in a bank, finance institution, investment corporation, etc to become a financial planner, financial advisor, trading & research associate, estate planner, financial analyst, financial consultant, financial representative, etc.

Talking about the salary of both, CFA charterholder earns between $56,500 and $120,500 per annum, with an average salary of $95,494. CFPs earn between $62,500 and $94,500 per annum, with an average salary of $83,123.

Way to Enroll

If you want to pursue your career as CFA, you may need to:

  • Register for CFA Institute on its official website before the exam registration. If you plan to apply for any scholarship, you need to register much earlier.
  • Make the fee payment for the relevant exam.
  • Make a schedule testing appointment

If you want to pursue your career as CFP, you may need to:

  • Register for CFP Board on its official website before the exam registration.
  • Make the fee payment for the registration fee
  • Make a schedule testing appointment

Key Differences Between Both

The significant difference between both is in the role or job which the person is mainly concerned with. The training and curriculum offered by certified financial planners and services will cover the financial advice and planning to individuals. The services here include insurance products, investment portfolios and tax guidance.

The CFA exam covers some topics including economics, quantitative methods, financial reporting and analysis, corporate finance and complex equity investing strategies. The CFP exam covers some topics including education planning, general financial planning, retirement savings, risk management and insurance planning, etc.

The CFA charterholder will be likely to work for a financial institute such as a hedge fund, a bank, pension or mutual fund company that will actively manage portfolios, trade assets like commodities, derivatives or currencies and engage in equity research or financial analysis.

The CFP credentialed individuals are more likely to work for a bank or trading firm. CPFs commonly work with individual clients and their financial plans. Reportedly, a lot of CFPs perform an excellent job creating and managing investment portfolios for their clients.

No matter which positions you choose, each of those financial designations will give ample professional chances for people who spend the time and energy to earn them. The point is, both are two of the most recognized financial advisor credentials.

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