ABFP Designation

Written by: Nik Ventouris

Last updated:

The College for Financial Planning awards the accredited behavioral finance professional (ABFP) certification to advisors who improve their capacity to understand emotions and thus their client interactions. This prestigious credential demonstrates an ability to offer more refined personal financial planning recommendations.

This guide provides a general overview of what the ABFP designation entails, the steps you need to take to acquire it, and the career paths it can unlock. It’ll also help you determine if this designation is the right fit for your professional aspirations based on your interests, career goals, and the industry’s demands.

What is the ABFP Designation

The ABFP designation is a qualification for mid-career and advanced finance professionals who focus on enhancing their emotional intelligence and more effectively counseling clients.

It delves deep into the psychological reasons behind certain economic behaviors, granting advisors insights into how to apply this knowledge in real-world situations. It also offers credits for advanced degrees and fulfills the continuing education requirements of many other professional credentials, making it a great way to streamline your career progression.

If you’re considering this career path, it’s worth investing in quality study materials in order to tackle the challenging ABFP exam. Quality study materials will equip you with the tools you need to face the exam with confidence, transforming a seemingly daunting task into an achievable goal.

Recommended Study Materials

Interested in starting your ABFP studies? We recommend having a look at Kaplan’s in-depth study materials.

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan Financial

How to Become an ABFP

There are several steps you’ll need to follow in order to become an ABFP, which have been outlined below.

Enroll in the Professional Designation Program

The first step involves enrolling in the ABFP program at the College for Financial Planning. Renowned for its flexibility, this program permits open enrollment so you can register at a time that suits your schedule.

Complete the Program

Once enrolled, all candidates must undertake the College for Financial Planning’s online, self-study ABFP course. This rigorous curriculum covers the following topics:

  • Behavioral Finance Foundations: This topic area focuses on the relationship between psychology and economic behavior, emphasizing the impact of emotions and biases on financial decisions. Advisors must grasp these principles in order to better understand and navigate the emotional motivations of their clients
  • Applied Behavioral Finance: Beyond theory, it’s crucial to get hands on practice applying these psychological explanations in real-world scenarios. Advisors will need to identify irrational behaviors exhibited by their clients and educate them about these tendencies, coaching them toward more rational decision-making
  • Emotional Competence: Boosting clients’ emotional resilience and intelligence is key to enhancing trust and rapport in the relationship. This module explores the tools and strategies for managing financial stress as well as how to help clients set clear, objective financial goals
  • Legal and Ethical Considerations: Equipped with these insights into their clients’ behaviors, advisors must always act in their clients’ best interests and adhere to industry regulations. This maintains trust and safeguards the advisor-client relationship

This formal program ensures participants acquire the expertise necessary to adeptly incorporate behavioral economics into their role as a financial advisor.

Pass the Examination

After completing the program, candidates have 120 days in which to take and pass the ABFP exam online through the College for Financial Planning’s dedicated portal.

Proper preparation is crucial to successfully navigate the exam, so remember to allocate ample time to review your study materials and practice questions.

Pay All Applicable Fees

In order to achieve and maintain this professional designation, you’ll need to pay certain fees. The main ones include:

  • Enrollment Fee: When enrolling in the ABFP program, you must pay a $1,350 fee that covers access to all course’s relevant materials and comprehensive research
  • Final Exam Fee: The initial enrollment fee includes one attempt at the final examination. If you need any additional attempts, however, you might incur extra charges
  • Continuing Education Fees: To maintain the ABFP designation, you’ll need to complete 16 hours of continuing education (CE) every two years. How much this will cost you can vary, depending on the specific CE course you choose
  • Renewal Fee: When submitting the biennial renewal application for your ABFP designation, you’ll also need to pay a renewal fee in addition to completing the CE requirements

With the financial industry’s growing focus on the emotional and psychological aspects of investment, acquiring the ABFP designation is a great way to boost your reputation and showcase your dedication to offering well-rounded, behaviorally informed financial planning advice.

Ready to get started? StateRequirement recommends having a look at Kaplan’s study materials and resources.

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan Financial

Is the ABFP Designation Right for You?

When contemplating whether or not the ABFP designation is the right fit for you, consider the factors outlined below.

Your Interests

The ABFP program delves into the nuances of behavioral finance, highlighting the influence of psychology on financial decisions and investor behaviors. If the relationship between emotions, biases, and financial decisions intrigues you and you believe you can guide clients to make better financial choices by understanding these dynamics, this designation may offer a perfect fit.

Your Career Goals

It’s important to assess the ABFP designation in the context of your career aspirations when deciding if it’s right for you. If your goals revolve around deepening client relationships by addressing emotional and psychological aspects of financial decision-making, for example, this designation will prove beneficial.

Industry Demands

The financial advising landscape continues to evolve with an increasing recognition of the significance of behavioral finance. Make sure to reflect on the industry’s demand for advisors skilled in behavioral finance moving forward as well as the value employers and clients place on the ABFP designation when gauging how relevant it is to your professional growth.


The cost of obtaining the ABFP designation is an essential consideration for those contemplating this credential. The fees associated with exam preparation, taking the exam, and maintaining your certification can certainly add up, so it’s essential to weigh these expenses against the potential benefits.

The ABFP designation can greatly enhance your reputation, opening doors to new opportunities and possibly higher earnings. However, you should carefully assess your financial situation and career goals as well as industry demands before committing to this investment in your professional development.

Ready to get started? StateRequirement recommends having a look at Kaplan’s study materials and resources.

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan Financial

ABFP Designation FAQ

What is the ABFP certification?

Awarded by the College for Financial Planning, the ABFP designation equips financial advisors with a thorough understanding of behavioral finance to enhance their advisory skills and help them deepen their client relationships.

What is a behavioral financial advisor?

A behavioral financial advisor understands the psychological factors that can influence investment decisions. They guide their clients by identifying their emotional biases, educating them about irrational behaviors, and promoting informed financial choices based on both emotions and data.

Do I need the ABFP designation?

The ABFP designation isn’t mandatory, though can prove beneficial for advisors who seek expertise in behavioral finance. It’ll enhance their credibility, help them deepen their client relationships, and equip them with advanced advisory skills — especially in managing clients’ emotional and psychological financial biases. See our How to Become a Wealth Manager guide for more information on the different types of wealth management designations.

How much does it cost to become an ABFP?

The cost to obtain the ABFP designation varies. Typically, it includes educational program enrollment fees, course materials, and exam fees. Continuing education and renewal fees also will apply after your initial certification. Check with the accredited College for Financial Planning for the most current pricing.

Read More

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