Monday, July 09, 2007

Certified Personal Finance Counselor

Previously cussed and discussed on this blog is the fact that one can become a Dave Ramsey Certified Financial Counselor for the trifling sum of $3,750. I've actually given some thought to doing this. To date, though, that almost-four grand would be a very difficult expense to justify. What would it get me, really? Sure, I'd eat up the curriculum, most likely. And just have a good time in general learning about a subject I've come to love.

But would it be worth that much cash? Not now, no.

This evening I stumbled upon what would seem to be an interesting, if not particularly well-detailed or -designed, alternative:

Center for Financial Certifications

In my opinion, having some sort of standardized certification program for financial counselors is a grand idea, and necessary. I'm all for it. Here's a snippet from their "About CPFC Certification" page:

This program is designed for financial counselors. Upon completion of the program, the CPFC will have been trained in methods they will use to gather financial information from the client which will enable them to suggest options and make recommendations to get the client on the road to financial well being.

The Training Manual is divided into three parts:

Part I- Communication & Counseling Techniques
Cognitive issues and problem solving

Part II- Elements of Financial Management
Detailed information regarding the five Nat'l Standards in Adult Financial Literacy
Consumer protection legislation
Code of Ethics

Part III- Appendices
Glossary of terms
Informational websites
Practice test

Format: The program is self-study, to be followed by a 100 multiple choice proctored exam.

And more, from another "About Certification" page:

The certification process will benefit counselors and educators, as well as clients and students.

1. Counselors and educators will benefit directly through study materials and by enrolling in mandatory continuing education courses. This will provide them with the essential tools needed to hone their skills and further their professional advancement.

2. Clients and students will benefit indirectly from the in-depth knowledge that counselors and educators will provide in teaching sound financial principles; imparting the ability to recognize and alter ineffective money management patterns and the reasons they developed, and by offering the tools needed to understand how money affects relationships with friends and family.

Sounds okay, I guess. But after perusing their website(s), I'm in no way sure that the so-called Institute for Personal Financial Literacy is the body to pull it off.

Given a website that's littered with grammatical errors (even their 2006 White Paper regarding bankruptcy filers is rife with Strunk-and-White yuckiness) and exhibits below-bargain-basement design, one has to wonder what exactly that $350 enrollment fee would get you. (But hey — at least their certification program is approved in Montana and Delaware.)

Also worth noting is that their "Contact Us" web form, once the SEND button is clicked, blows up in a dervish of PHP errors. Nice, huh? Well, they're financial certifiers, not web programmers. Maybe they need to hire some bloggers to help them get this stuff sorted out.

In any case, I like the idea of financial-counselor certification. It's something I'd certainly consider undertaking ... once the right process comes along.


— Posted by Michael @ 10:27 AM


Wow, what timing. There is already a certification for legit financial planners, and it's tough to earn. It's called the CFP. The New York Times just exposed most of the other certifications as hooey, enabling fraud of all kinds. See

Anonymous Anonymous
, at 10:10 AM, July 09, 2007  


CFP is a different deal. Yes, it SHOULD encompass "financial counselor." But "financial counselor" doesn't encompass everything a CFP has to be well-versed in.

I fear the world is all too well-stocked with CFPs who target only high-net-worth clients, and who couldn't care less about anyone else. There aren't, after all, tens of thousands of $$$ to be made from Joe Sixpack.

Human nature is what it is. Not that many folks will go through all that training and expense in order to simply practice altruism.


How about getting your CFP and then specializing in counseling? Our local community college has a CFP program for about $2K.


The problem with certifications is two-fold. The part we professionals focus on is education. The other part that often falls short is educating the public about the certification. I work with many professionals that have much of the aplphabet listed after their name. When you ask clients what the letters mean, few know anything beyond CPA and CFP. A benefit of the NY Times article was to educate the public. Standardization of qualification means little if the people who rely on the standard don't appreciate or understand its importance.


Have you looked at AFCPE (Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education)?


The College for Financial Planning also offers the Accredited Asset Management Specialist designation. Takes less time and money than the full CFP. Also, the Heartland Institute for Financial Edcuation seems good. They have a Certified Financial Educator program.


Please visit This organization offers financial counselor certification programs.

** Comments Closed on this Post **

Thoughts on my personal finances, goals, experiences, motivations, and accomplishments (or lack thereof).

My financial life began turning around when I took responsibility for it.
— Dave Ramsey


Start (2005-12): ~$21,900
Currently: $0
[About Our Debt Paydown]


Savings Goal: $15,000
Currently: ~$15,115
[About Our Liquid Savings Goal]