ARLINGTON, Va. -- After students graduate from college with a financial planning degree, some advisors and academics might recommend working in the industry for a few years before sitting for the grueling CFP exam.
The CFP Board sees it differently.
Beginning in July, the CFP Board plans to offer a $200 discount for financial planning graduates who sit for the exam within six months of earning their baccalaureate degree from a registered program, Kevin Keller, the board's CEO, announced at the annual Registered Program Conference.
"We think it's most important that students sit for the exam when they finish their education," Keller said at the CFP Board's annual registered program conference.
"It is our belief and experience that it's best when students — especially [those in] baccalaureate degree [programs] — are in the mindset of studying and preparing for exams, it's best to get the CFP exam out of the way," he said.
Keller suggested that financial planning professors in attendance encourage their students to sit for the exam soon after earning their degree. The discounted exam rate is the CFP Board's latest effort to boost the number of CFP certificants.
The exam currently carries a standard registration rate of $695. The board offers an early-bird rate of $595 and a late registration rate of $795.
Dave Yeske, director of the financial planning program at Golden Gate University and managing director of San Francisco based-RIA Yeske Buie, urged the CFP Board to extend the exam discount to graduates of the 67 registered master's degree programs. Keller offered the new discount as a first step, indicating that he would be open to considering expanding it to recent graduates of higher-level programs.
"We're going to start with baccalaureate students and we'll see how that goes. How about that?" Keller said. "We'll go from there."
The CFP Board is also updating the contents of its examination to reflect the new changes in the tax code under the sweeping tax overhaul signed into law in December.
"We have a big chore ahead," Keller said. "We estimate that 25% of the items in one way or another have some component of them that contemplates the tax law ... and so it's going to be a rolling process."
Keller said the Board plans for the exams will be adjusted to incorporate the updated law later this year. "The last exam where we'll test the old tax law will be July of 2018. We will begin testing the new tax law in November of 2018," he said.
In addition to the tax updates to the exam, the board is also actively considering how it can modify both the test and the standards of conduct to account for the increasing role that technology plays in the industry, according to Richard Salmen, chair of the CFP Board's board of directors.
"We need to think about how we move forward further into the 21st century in training new certified financial planning professionals. The reality is the world is changing faster every year, and I do not believe that's going to slow down in any way, shape or form," Salmen said.
He said that the Board would have to adjust to this "new reality," just as professors in financial planning programs will have to as they continue to educate their students.
"We're going to have to change, and we're going to have to be willing to rethink some of these things as we look at updating our standards going forward," he added.
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