Best CFP Programs

Written by: Mary Gerardine

Last updated:

Best CFP Programs

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
  • Reliability
  • Efficacy

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
  • Expert Instruction
  • Best Quality & Reputation
  • Pass Protection Guarantee
  • Live & Self-Study Options
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Dalton Education 4.5/5
  • Comprehensive Learning Materials
  • “Guarantee to Pass” Policy
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Zahn Associates 4.4/5
  • Live Reviews
  • Flexible Formats
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Brett Danko 4.3/5
  • Expert and Engaging Instruction
  • Signature Live Review
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The American College of Financial Services 4/5
  • Modern E-learning
  • Focus on Behavioral Finance
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1. Kaplan Financial Education

Kaplan Financial Education — the original creator of the CFP mark — was our number one choice for aspiring CFPs looking to get started.

We found that their program stood out due to its extensive expertise, effective curriculum, high success rates, and pass-protection scheme.

Kaplan’s Key Features:

  • Expertise & Recognition: Over 30 years of experience helping millions of users in obtaining their CFP certification
  • Streamlined Curriculum & Learning Platform: The curriculum aligns with CFP Board learning objectives and is delivered via an intuitive platform with interactive lectures, practice questions, self-assessment quizzes, and detailed feedback
  • Expert Faculty & Instruction: The course is taught by experienced financial professionals and offers both online and live instructor-led formats — allowing for a higher degree of flexibility
  • Wide Range of Learning Materials: The program provides industry-leading materials and integrated study tools, such as textbooks, CFP exam podcasts, online modules, practice exams, flashcards, and a performance tracker
  • QBank: Kaplan’s question bank contains more than 3,000 practice questions that relate to the CFP exam. This is updated on a regular basis in order to accommodate any changes and/or trends that are set by the CFP board
  • Accelerated Path for Professionals: An accelerated course option is available for qualifying professionals, which can be great for aspiring CFPs looking to obtain this certification as fast as possible

Additional features worth noting include on-demand access to materials, free practice exams, and great customer support.

Kaplan Financial Education Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Kaplan’s long-standing experience and role in creating the CFP mark adds credibility and depth to their course
  • The course covers all necessary topics and aligns with official learning objectives.
  • Kaplan offers both online and live formats, catering to a variety of learning preferences and schedules
  • Busy professionals can benefit by compressing the course into a shorter period without actually compromising content
  • A five-day trial is offered free of charge, which includes access to a variety of resources and valuable study tools
  • Kaplan’s pass rates have consistently been significantly higher than the industry average

Cons

  • Despite all of its benefits, Kaplan’s CFP courses are undoubtedly on the more expensive side

Final Overview

All in all, we found that Kaplan’s CFP prep courses offered extensive resources, experienced instructors, and a high success rate, making it a strong choice for those pursuing the specialized certification. It’s most suitable for individuals looking for a thorough, flexible, and proven path to passing the CFP exam.

Recommended Course

Interested in getting started? Have a look at Kaplan’s comprehensive CFP study packages.

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan Financial

2. Dalton Education

The CFP coursework in the Dalton Education CFP program includes prestudy booklets, recorded online lectures, review readiness assessments, and live online instructor office hours.

Dalton Education’s Key Features:

  • Two Package Options: Dalton offers both the “Dalton Review” package and the “Guarantee to Pass Review” package in order to meet student needs
  • Live Instructors: Most instructors have gathered experience previously working on the CFP Board of Examiners
  • “Guarantee to Pass” Scheme: Users can retake the course free of charge if they do not pass the CFP exam on their first attempt

Dalton Education Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The program’s instructors are some of the best in the country, having written questions for the CFP exam and/or having served on the CFP Board of Examiners
  • Dalton’s CFP program covers a wide range of topics, helping ensure that students are adequately prepared for all questions and concepts that appear on their CFP exam
  • Guaranteed to Pass scheme means you have a safety net in case you don’t pass the exam on your first attempt
  • Similarly to Kaplan, Dalton has a pass rate that’s higher than the national average

Cons

  • No free trial is offered, meaning that students do not have the same flexibility to opt out of the course as with other providers
  • Limited choice in comparison to some of the alternatives on this list (since only two packages are offered)

Final Overview

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.

While it lacks the eminence and structural foundation offered by Kaplan, it can be a great choice for prospective CFPs looking for a more affordable approach.

3. Zahn Associates

Zahn Associates’ CFP test prep courses are highly regarded for their effectiveness in the sphere of CFP training.

The experienced instructors, rigorous curriculum, and consistent high pass rates make Zahn a strong choice for aspiring CFP professionals.

Having said that, the relatively higher price point and limited flexibility may not be suitable for everyone, which is why we’ve placed it as number three on our list.

Zahn Associates Key Features:

  • Four Different Study Options: This includes the Pre-Study Guide, Live Review Class, Post-Study, and Capstone
  • Experienced Instructors: Students can receive real-world insights — as well as case studies — to prepare
  • Live Instruction: This is supplemented by both text and video resources

Zahn Associates Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Course instructors are experienced CFPs, allowing them to bring real-world examples into the lessons
  • CFP Board-registered programs are available in both traditional and online formats, allowing students to choose between both virtual or live in-person classes with real-time interactions. Students can also choose the class location and schedule that better suits their needs
  • Relatively high pass rates (10% over the national average according to the Zahn Associates website)

Cons

  • Some students have categorized Zahn Associates’ “narrow” approach of exam material as a bit too restricting and have felt that important real-life applications and concepts can be missed
  • The course has limited availability, meaning that students may have to wait several months before they can enroll and/or attend a class
  • No free trial or money-back-guarantee is offered

Final Overview

All in all, Zahn Associates’ CFP program is undoubtedly a reputable course that offers solid preparation tools and a strong foundation.

Having said that, its primary focus on its Live Review program can mean that it may not be the ideal choice for prospective CFPs looking for a high degree of flexibility.

4. Brett Danko

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, which can make for quite an immersive experience.

The program includes six courses that cover the topics required by the CFP Board, including financial planning, insurance, investments, income tax, retirement, and estate planning. Keep in mind that both in-person and online programs are included.

Brett Danko Pros and Cons

Pros

  • 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
  • His most popular program, the Signature Live Review, is a comprehensive and intensive exam preparation course that covers all the topics and case studies required for the CFP exam in a personalized manner
  • Danko 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

Cons

  • Limited flexibility when it comes to the types of packages that are offered (only two options available)
  • Not the most expensive, but also not the cheapest option available
  • The demanding nature of Brett Danko’s CFP program may not suit students who prefer a more relaxed or flexible pace

Final Overview

Even though Brett Danko’s CFP course is competitive, it remains relatively limited compared to some of our other choices.

Ultimately, whether this will be a good option for you or not will depend on your individual preferences and learning style.

If you are seeking a structured and immersive learning experience with experienced instructors, Kaplan or Zahn’s Live Review program will likely be a better fit. For those looking for personalized guidance, however, Danko’s course could be an excellent choice.

5. The American College of Financial Services

The American College of Financial Services is another provider of education in relation to the CFP exam.

Its CFP program is broken down into two sections — the education part and the exam prep part.

The education component includes seven courses that cover the topics required by the CFP Board, and the exam prep component entails a comprehensive review course that helps students practice and master the content of the actual exam.

This program is available in three different packages — Essentials, Premier, and Executive — in order to meet students’ individual needs, preferences, and budgets.

The American College of Financial Services Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The program’s Personal Pathway experience allows for a flexible — yet structured — process that’s accessible wherever and whenever you are
  • A focus on Behavioral Finance is included, which aims to help financial planners better understand their clients’ biases, emotions, and financial behavior
  • 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 is offered, allowing prospective CFPs to choose between packages that cost as little as $895 or as much as $4850

Cons

  • 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 the topics and/or courses
  • 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

Final Overview

The American College of Financial Services CFP Board Registered Program is a comprehensive and reputable option for financial planners who want to prepare for the CFP exam.

We found that it offers a variety of packages and formats, as well as quality education and review materials. Having said that, the program could provide a better experience for students if it offered greater flexibility and more interaction.

Best CFP Programs FAQ

Which CFP program has the highest pass rate?

According to the Certified Financial Planning 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 Certified Financial Planner 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 CFP programs 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.

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For all related articles, have a look at our Financial Advisor Resources page.