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Survey of CFP® Professionals Shows Continued High Satisfaction with Their Career Choice, CFP® Certification

Published on: Oct 5, 2021

businessman explaining a financial plan
Photo credit: Pressmaster/Shutterstock

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) recently announced findings from a survey of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals  indicating that they are overwhelmingly satisfied with their career choice as a financial planner, and that the CFP® certification has a positive impact on their career.

These are just two of the main findings from The Survey of CFP® Professionals, which is conducted every two years to ascertain the views of CFP® professionals about their careers, CFP Board and the financial planning profession. The 2021 survey conducted by Fondulas Strategic Research found that:

  • 93% are strongly satisfied with career choice in financial planning, compared to 93% in 2019 and 92% in 2017.
  • 93% are strongly satisfied with their decision to pursue CFP® certification, compared to 92% in 2019 and 91% in 2017.
  • 93% would recommend the CFP® certification to other financial professionals, compared to 89% in 2019 and 91% in 2017.
  • 87% agree that CFP® professionals have a "competitive edge" over financial planners who do not hold the credential, compared to 83% in 2019 and 2017.
  • 82% agree that becoming a CFP® professional has directly contributed to their success as a personal financial planner, compared to 78% in 2019 and 77% in 2017.
  • 81% agree that the value of CFP® certification justifies the costs of renewing the credential, compared to 77% in 2019 and 76% in 2017.

“CFP® professionals have consistently reiterated two very important and encouraging trends: that they are overwhelmingly satisfied with their career choice in financial planning and their CFP® certification,” said CFP Board CEO Kevin R. Keller, CAE. “These results continue to prove that earning CFP® certification is the most important step you can take to accelerate your career and help your clients achieve their financial dreams.”


The survey found that CFP® professionals’ services are in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, 50% report that inquiries from prospective clients increased as the pandemic evolved — significantly higher than the 34% reported in an April 2020 survey CFP Board conducted early in the pandemic. Additionally:

  • To address client concerns, 58% of CFP® professionals boosted the frequency of client contacts during the pandemic, with 71% reaching out to their clients 3x or more.
  • The challenges facing financial advisors have evolved during the pandemic. In the survey, CFP® professionals report that their top 3 challenges include:
  1. Virtual meetings (21%), which ranked as the fourth challenge in 2020 at 11%.
  2. Working remotely (13%), which ranked as the seventh challenge in 2020 at 9%.
  3. New client acquisition (12%) remained as the third challenge in 2020 at 13%.
  • The two top challenges in 2020 were reported by significantly fewer respondents in 2021. “Maintaining communication with clients and prospects,” which was ranked first in 2020 with 18%, ranked last in 2021 (3%). The “emotional factor,” which was ranked second in 2020 with 17%, ranked fourth in 2021 with 6%.


Regardless of the challenges, CFP® professionals continue to give back to their communities through volunteer activities during the pandemic. For example, nearly three in four CFP® professionals surveyed (74%) report engaging in volunteer activities during the past year. The survey found that:

  • The three top volunteer activities CFP® professionals continued during the pandemic include:
  1. Offering advice on different ways people can donate money or time to charitable organizations (46%),
  2. Serving on a board or as an advisor for a charitable organization (37%), and
  3. Establishing or helping people organize a fundraiser for people or groups in need (27%).
  • Pro bono financial planning remains a popular activity for a majority of CFP® professionals, as 76% agree that it is important that CFP® professionals provide pro bono services to people in need.
  • The number of CFP® professionals engaged in pro bono financial planning dipped slightly during the pandemic, with 62% of CFP® professionals reporting providing pro bono financial planning during the pandemic in 2021, compared to 65% in 2019.

Added Keller: “This past year has proven that CFP® professionals can be understanding, flexible and resilient in their mission to help clients — even when they are faced with an unprecedented pandemic. We are proud to see that CFP® professionals go out of their way to help people in need and give back to the communities in which they serve.”


Conducted by Fondulas Research, this survey uses the repeated methodology from surveys in 2019, 2017, 2015 and 2013. A random sample of CFP® professionals were selected and surveyed by phone between April and June 2021, which produced 950 completed surveys. The sampling error is +/- 3.2 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.