If you’re considering taking the CFP exam, you will likely need a CFP program to assist you in your preparation.
Even though the “ideal” program can be different from individual to individual, you should generally consider the following aspects before making a final choice:
- Value for money
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced professional, this Best CFP Programs article should help you pick the best program for your specificities and allow you to advance your career within the financial industry.
The 5 Best CFP Programs
|Best CFP Programs|
|Kaplan Financial Education 4.7/5||Best Overall CFP Program
|Dalton Education 4.5/5||Best Expert-Led Instruction
|Zahn Associates 4.4/5||Best Choice for Live Instruction
|Brett Danko 4.3/5||Best for In-Person Learning
|The American College of Financial Services 4/5||Best for Quality and Reputation
1. Kaplan Financial Education: Best Overall CFP Program
Kaplan Financial Education is a leading provider of education and exam preparation for CFP certification. It offers a CFP Certification Program through the College for Financial Planning.
Kaplan Financial offers three main packages within its CFP Certification Program: Essential, EssentialPlus, and Premium.
Kaplan Financial Education Pros
- Integrated Learning: The program provides industry-leading materials and integrated study tools, such as textbooks, online modules, practice exams, flashcards, and a performance tracker. Written by experts, the textbooks cover the eight major domains of financial planning. The online modules include quizzes, videos, and case studies
- QBank: This question bank contains more than 3,000 practice questions for the CFP exam. Kaplan Financial Education updates it on a regular basis to reflect the latest changes and trends in the exam. It’s available as part of the Premium and EssentialPlus packages of this program. You can access it at any time and from anywhere through your online account
- Flexible Learning Formats: Kaplan Financial Education offers flexible study options, such as self-study, live online, or on-demand classes with expert instruction. It holds the live online classes at fixed times and dates while it prerecords the on-demand classes for anytime access
- PassProtection: PassProtection is a guarantee that allows you to retake the CFP program for free if you fail the exam after completing this program. To be eligible for PassProtection, you must enroll in the Premium or EssentialPlus package. If you qualify for PassProtection, you can enroll in the same package of Kaplan Financial Education’s CFP program again for free — as many times as you need until you pass the exam
- High Pass Rate: Kaplan Financial Education has a long history of teaching financial planning principles and preparing students for the exam. For the March 2023 exam, the overall pass rate was 65% while the pass rate for first-time exam takers was approximately 69%. This means Kaplan Financial Education’s students may have a slight advantage over repeat exam takers
- Free Trial: Kaplan Financial Education offers a five-day, free trial for its CFP Certification Program. During this trial, you’ll have access to free resources and study tools from the program
Kaplan Financial Education Cons
- Expensive: It’s pricier than some other CFP exam prep courses, but this program comes with high-quality materials, personalized support, and expert instructor interaction from CFP professionals. The cost may pose a barrier for some students with a limited budget, however
- Self-Study Model: Built around a self-study model, this program may not suit everyone’s learning style because some people prefer hands-on, instructor-led online classes
Kaplan Financial Education offers industry-leading CFP online programs that prepare students for the certified financial planner exam with best-in-class study materials and free resources. However, it may not suit those who prefer engaging and interactive learning over self-paced studying.
Interested in getting started? Have a look at Kaplan’s comprehensive CFP study packages.
2. Dalton Education: Best Expert-Led Instruction
The CFP coursework in the Dalton Education CFP Program includes prestudy booklets, recorded online lectures, review readiness assessments, and live, online instructor office hours.
The CFP prep courses offered by Dalton Education come in two packages: The Dalton Review package and the “Guarantee to Pass” Review package.
Dalton Education Pros
- Expert Instruction: This program’s instructors are some of the best in the country, and they have experience writing questions for the CFP exam or serving on the CFP Board of Examiners. This means they’re experts in the field of financial planning, they know what to expect from the exam and how to prepare for it, and they can keep the students engaged and motivated throughout the course
- Comprehensive Learning Materials: This program covers all of the topics likely to appear on the exam. That means you won’t miss any important concepts or areas you need to master for the exam, giving you a comprehensive overview of the financial planning process and principles
- “Guarantee to Pass” Policy: This policy allows you to retake the review course for free if you fail the exam. That means you not only have a safety net in case you don’t pass the exam on your first attempt, but also access the course materials and support until you do pass
- High Pass Rate: Dalton Education’s CFP Program has a high pass rate compared to the national average. According to its website, students that score 60% or higher on the exam readiness quiz have an 88% pass rate on the CFP exam. Other sources also report that Dalton Education student pass rates are 20% to 25% higher than the national average
Dalton Education Cons
- Expensive: This program is expensive when compared to other providers. That means that you’ll have to pay a higher fee for the course, which may not fit your budget or preferences
- No Free Trial: Dalton Education doesn’t provide free trials for its CFP Program. However, it does offer a “guarantee to pass” policy that enables you to retake the course for free if you fail the exam
Dalton Education’s CFP Program is a comprehensive preparation course taught by some of the best instructors in the country — many of whom have written questions for the CFP exam and served on the CFP Board of Examiners. Because this program has a hefty price given Dalton Education’s status as one of the leading CFP program providers, students could benefit from a free trial if it becomes available.
3. Zahn Associates: Best Choice for Live Instruction
The Zahn Associates CFP Program has two main components: education and live review. The education component features seven courses that cover the topics required by the CFP Board. The live review component is a four-day, intensive class that prepares students for the exam with lectures, practice questions, and exam tips. Students may take both components online or in person.
You can choose one or all of the four study materials in the Zahn CFP program, depending on your specific needs and budget. These materials include: Pre-study Guide, Live Review Class, Post-Study, and Capstone.
Zahn Associates Pros
- Live Review: You can take Live Review classes either in person or online. Because the course instructors are CFPs who also work in finance, they bring real-world examples into the lessons
- Flexible Formats: Zahn Associates’ CFP Board-registered programs are available in both traditional and online formats. You can choose between virtual or live, in-person classes — both with real-time instruction and interaction. You also can select the class location and schedule that suits your needs
- Focused and Engaging Instruction: Zahn Associates’ instructors are knowledgeable, experienced CFP professionals. They focus on the most likely topics to appear on the exam and provide memorable examples for their students
- High Pass Rate: According to the Zahn Associates website, its students have a pass rate of 10% above the national average
Zahn Associates Cons
- Expensive: The Zahn Associates CFP Program is pricey, depending on the package and format you choose. Some students may find it hard to afford or justify the cost
- Narrow Scope: Some students may find the Zahn Associates approach of focusing on the topics most likely to appear on the exam too narrow. They may feel they’re missing out on some important concepts or skills not covered by the Zahn Associates materials
- Limited Availability: The program has limited availability for both online and in-person courses and live reviews. Students may have to wait several months before they can enroll and/or attend a class. They also may have difficulty finding a convenient location or time for their live review
Zahn Associates’ CFP Program is a high-quality and high-pass-rate option for financial planners who want to prepare for the CFP exam. It offers different packages and formats as well as focused and engaging instruction. However, it’s also expensive, provides limited availability for its courses and reviews, and could work on offering a more in-depth set of study topics.
4. Brett Danko: Best for In-Person Learning
Brett Danko is a CFP professional and instructor who offers various programs and courses for financial planners who want to prepare for the CFP exam.
One of his programs — the Fast Track CFP Certification Program — is a partnership with Stockton University, making it ideal for those with a bachelor’s degree or financial planning experience. The program includes six courses that cover the topics required by the CFP Board, such as financial planning, insurance, investments, income tax, retirement, and estate planning. Students may take the program online or in person.
Brett Danko Pros
- Expert, Engaging Instruction: Known as an effective and engaging instructor, Brett Danko teaches the CFP fundamentals in a clear and concise way. He also helps students understand how to apply the concepts to the planning process and the exam questions
- Signature Live Review: One of Danko’s most popular programs is the Signature Live Review, which is a comprehensive and intensive exam preparation course that covers all the topics and case studies required for the CFP exam
- Comprehensive Study Materials: Danko also provides access to various study materials, including a 3,000-question test bank, online classes, live review recordings, calculator sessions, mock exams, case studies, flashcards, interactive Q&A sessions, and a three-day, in-person live review
Brett Danko Cons
- Expensive: Brett Danko’s CFP prep course is among the priciest out there. This high cost could prove difficult for some people to manage or view as worthwhile
- Limited to One Virtual Course Retake: You can retake only one virtual course for Danko’s Signature Live Review, and this option isn’t offered as part of his other Live Review programs
- Intense and Demanding: Brett Danko designed his CFP program for students who’re serious and committed to passing the CFP exam. It requires a lot of time and effort from students, who must complete many assignments, quizzes, and practice exams. It may not suit students who prefer a more relaxed or flexible pace
Brett Danko’s CFP Program is great for virtual and in-person learning experiences. It includes a pre-study component and a live review, taught by Brett Danko himself. While this program offers convenient options for online or in-person learning, it isn’t for those who prefer a more flexible schedule.
5. The American College of Financial Services: Best for Quality and Reputation
The American College of Financial Services is another provider of education and review programs for the CFP certification exam.
Its CFP program has two parts: education and exam prep. The education component includes seven courses that cover the topics required by the CFP Board. The exam prep component is a comprehensive review course that helps students practice and master the exam content.
This program is available in three different packages — Essentials, Premier, and Executive — to meet students’ individual needs, preferences, and budgets.
The American College of Financial Services Pros
- Modern Elearning: Through the program’s Personal Pathway experience, this type of learning makes your education flexible, yet structured — and accessible wherever and whenever you are
- Focus on Behavioral Finance: This program aims to help financial planners better understand their clients’ biases, emotions, and financial behavior
- Reputable Institution: The American College of Financial Services is known as a reputable and accredited institution that offers quality education and review materials. Many of its CFP program students cite the faculty and staff as very knowledgeable, experienced, and supportive
- Flexible Pricing: Although its seven-course package tends to be expensive (it costs around $4,850), you can choose a more streamlined course that starts at $895 (subject to change)
- High Pass Rate: The American College of Financial Services claims its students consistently pass the CFP exam at rates 10% to 14% above the national average
The American College of Financial Services Cons
- Rigid and Lengthy: Some students may find this program too rigid or lengthy for their learning style or schedule. They may feel they have to follow a strict curriculum or timeline that doesn’t allow them to skip or accelerate through some topics or courses
- Lack of Interaction or Feedback: Some students may find this program’s online courses or exam prep lacking in interaction or feedback. They may feel isolated or frustrated by the lack of communication or guidance from the instructors and their peers
The American College of Financial Services CFP certification program is a comprehensive and reputable option for financial planners who want to prepare for the CFP exam. It offers different packages and formats as well as quality education and review materials. However, the program could provide an improved experience for students if it offered greater flexibility and more interaction. As such, it may suit some students’ needs and preferences better than others.
Best CFP Programs FAQ
Which CFP program has the highest pass rate?
According to the CFP Board, the overall pass rate for the CFP exam in 2022 was 65%. The pass rate may vary depending on the education program you choose. Programs like those offered through Kaplan’s College for Financial Planning have higher pass rates than the national average. Compare the best CFP prep courses in our Best CFP Programs article.
Which is the best institute for preparing for the CFP exam?
The “best” institute to help you prepare for the CFP exam often will depend on your individual needs, including your location, budget, and learning style. Programs accredited by the CFP Board boast broad recognition within the finance industry. Online options like those from Kaplan’s College for Financial Planning remain popular for their flexibility and comprehensive curriculum.
What is the hardest CFP module?
The perceived difficulty of each CFP module can vary from person to person, depending on their background and expertise. However, many students find the “Investment Planning” or “Tax Planning” modules as the most challenging. This is due to the complexity of these modules and the need for in-depth understanding of financial products, market factors, or tax codes.
Is it worth having a CFP certification?
If you wish to provide personal financial planning advice, earning a CFP certification can enhance your credibility and demonstrate your high level of expertise in financial planning. Clients seek out CFPs for competent and ethical financial advice, which can lead to a higher earning potential and greater career opportunities for these professionals.