Steve Johnson
Commonwealth Financial Group

Professional Designations

Professional Designations



CFP®

CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™

The CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) certification is a voluntary certification that is recognized in the United States and a number of other countries for its (1) high standard of professional education, (2) stringent code of conduct and standards of practice, and (3) ethical requirements that govern professional engagements with clients. Currently, more than 79,000 individuals have obtained CFP® certification in the United States.

To attain the right to use the CFP® marks, an individual must satisfactorily fulfill the following requirements:

  • Education Requirement:  Complete an advanced college‐level course of study addressing the financial planning subject areas that CFP Board’s studies have determined as necessary for the competent and professional delivery of financial planning services, and attain a Bachelor’s Degree from a regionally accredited United States college or university (or its equivalent from a foreign university). CFP Board’s financial planning subject areas include insurance planning and risk management, employee benefits planning, investment planning, income tax planning, retirement planning, and estate planning;

  • CFP®  Certification Examination Requirement:  The examination, administered in two three hour sessions over one day, includes case studies and client scenarios designed to test one’s ability to correctly diagnose financial planning issues and apply one’s knowledge of financial planning to real world circumstances;

  • Experience Requirement:  Complete a minimum of three years of full-time financial planning-related experience (or the equivalent, measured as 2,000 hours per year); and

  • Ethics Requirement:  Agree to be bound by CFP Board's Standards of Professional Conduct, a set of documents outlining the ethical and practice standards for CFP® professionals.

Ethics and Continuing Education (CE)

Individuals who become certified must complete the following ongoing education and ethics requirements in order to maintain the right to continue to use the CFP® marks:

  • Complete thirty hours of continuing education hours every two years, including two hours related to the Code of Ethics and other parts of the Standards of Professional Conduct, to maintain competence and keep up with developments in the financial planning field; and

  • Renew an agreement to be bound by the Standards of Professional Conduct. The Standards prominently require that CFP® professionals provide financial planning services at a fiduciary standard of care. This means CFP® professionals must provide financial planning services in the best interests of their clients.

CFP® and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ are certification marks owned by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, LLC. These marks are awarded to individuals who successfully complete the CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.

To learn more about CFP® certification, visit http://www.cfp.net/


CLU®

Chartered Life Underwriter®

The CLU® designation is one of the oldest and most respected credentials in financial services, dating back to the late 1920s. It represents a thorough understanding of a broad array of personal risk management and life insurance planning issues and stresses ethics, professionalism, and in-depth knowledge in the delivery of financial advice.

To attain the right to use the CLU® marks, an individual must satisfactorily fulfill the following requirements:

  • Education Requirements:  CLU® candidates must complete eight college-level courses, five required and three electives. The required courses include Fundamentals of Insurance PlanningIndividual Life InsuranceLife Insurance LawFundamentals of Estate Planning; and Planning for Business Owners and Professionals. Elective topics cover financial planning, health insurance, income taxation, group benefits, investments, and retirement planning.

  • CLU® Examination Requirements:  Eight closed-book, course-specific, two-hour proctored exams;

  • Experience Requirements:  Candidates are required to have three-years of full-time, relevant business experience; and

  • Ethics Requirements:  Must adhere to The American College’s Code of Ethics, which includes the following professional pledge: “I shall, in light of all conditions surrounding those I serve, which I shall make every conscientious effort to ascertain and understand, render that service which, in the same circumstances, I would apply to myself.”

Continuing Education 

To retain the Chartered Life Underwriter® designation, a CLU® must complete the Professional Recertification Program. Designees are required to obtain thirty hours of continuing education every two years, with at least one hour of ethics CE required as part of that total. Annually, designees must recommit to The American College of Financial Services standard of ethics, reconfirm client-facing status, update their contact information, and pay the membership fee.

To learn more about the CLU® designation, visit CLUHighestStandard.com and TheAmericanCollege.edu/CLU.


ChFC®

Chartered Financial Consultant®

The ChFC® designation has been a mark of excellence for financial planners for over thirty years and currently requires more courses than any other financial planning credential. The curriculum covers extensive education and application training in all aspects of financial planning, income taxation, investments, and estate and retirement planning.

To attain the right to use the ChFC® marks, an individual must satisfactorily fulfill the following requirements:

  • Education Requirements:  ChFC® candidates must complete nine college-level courses, seven required and two electives. The required courses include Financial Planning: Process and EnvironmentFundamentals of Insurance PlanningIncome TaxationPlanning for Retirement NeedsInvestmentsFundamentals of Estate Planning; and Financial Planning Applications.

  • ChFC® Examination Requirements:  Nine closed-book, course-specific, two-hour proctored exams;

  • Experience Requirements:  Candidates are required to have three-years of full-time, relevant business experience; and

  • Ethics Requirements:  Must adhere to The American College’s Code of Ethics, which includes the following professional pledge: “I shall, in light of all conditions surrounding those I serve, which I shall make every conscientious effort to ascertain and understand, render that service which, in the same circumstances, I would apply to myself.”

Continuing Education 

To retain the Chartered Financial Consultant® designation, a ChFC® must complete the Professional Recertification Program. Designees are required to obtain thirty hours of continuing education every two years, with at least one hour of ethics CE required as part of that total. Annually, designees must recommit to The American College of Financial Services standard of ethics, reconfirm client-facing status, update their contact information, and pay the membership fee.

To learn more about the ChFC® designation, visit ChFCHighestStandard.com and TheAmericanCollege.edu/ChFC.