The QAFP certification (Qualified Associate Financial Planner) started on January 1st, 2020 when FP Canada used it to replace the FPSC Level 1 certification.
There is no legal requirement for financial planners in Canada to be certified but it does allow you to grow your client base and career much more easily if you have professional certifications.
FP Canada’s QAFP and CFP Designations are Canada’s most widely recognized financial planning certification with over 17,000 CFP’s in Canada and 180,000+ CFP professionals around the world. So whether you’re just starting out or already experienced, a QAFP or CFP credential can help you grow as a professional, get greater job security, and earn a higher income.
Some potential job opportunities for certified financial planners include:
- Wealth Management
- Financial Services Firms
- Becoming an independent professional with your own business/book of clients
Whether your goal is to work with high-net worth (HNW) individuals or the every day family, getting certified will get you there.
Getting your qafp certification
A QAFP is a great start to any financial planning career as it increases your knowledge and shows potential clients that you are qualified to give advice.
Getting your financial planner certification involves 5 steps:
- Enroll in an FP Canada Approved Core Curriculum Program and the Introduction to Professional Ethics (IPE) course
- Once you’ve completed both programs, you can register for the QAFP Exam
- Once you’ve passed the exam and have completed 1 year of qualifying work experience, you can apply for your QAFP Certification.
The Core Curriculum Program can be offered by certain approved independent education providers whereas the IPE and the Professional Education Program is offered by FP Canada only.
Maintaining your certification
To maintain it, you need to complete the Professional Education Program within 1 year of getting your certification. This education program teaches you how to apply the concepts learnt in the Core Curriculum.
This extra training teaches you how to apply those concepts and offer holistic financial advice, how to build relationships with clients, and to always act in their best interest maintaining a high standard of professional responsibility.
QAFP Exam Format
The QAFP exam is 4 hours long and broken up into 2, 2 hour sessions with up to 100 multiple choice questions.
FP Canada published a QAFP exam blueprint with some more details but the breakdown is roughly:
- Independent Questions: 70-80%
- Case Study Questions: 20-30%
Exam content is further broken down into 7 topics:
- Estate Planning & Legal: 7-17%
- Retirement Planning: 9-19%
- Tax Planning: 7-17%
- Insurance & Risk Management: 8-18%
- Fundamentals of Financial Planning: 12-21%
- Investment Planning: 11-21%
- Financial Management: 12-22%
As far as difficulty goes, 38-46% of the exam contains Basic questions, 49-57% are Moderate difficulty and between 2-10% are Difficult questions.
QAFP Exam Content
The actual content of the exam is based on the Competency Profile released by the FP Canada Standards Council.
Compared to the CFP exam, the QAFP exam is a bit lighter on the financial planning situation questions.
To write the QAFP exam, you have to have completed the following in the last 4 years:
- FP Canada Approved Core Curriculum Program (such as the QAFP Exam Prep Course offered by PNC Learning)
- FP Canada Introduction to Professional Ethics (IPE) course
After completing these 2, you’ll be able to register for the exam.