My CFP® Journey by Adam Werner

Benjamin Haas |

The title of my last article about the start of my journey towards becoming a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ was “How Hard Can It Be?” [original article]. Well here I am 16 months later and have the definitive answer for you which is.... VERY. There’s a reason the CFP® designation is widely considered the highest credential to hold in our industry. I progressed through each of the 6 modules pretty consistently, each taking about 2-3 months, some a little more difficult than others. Although the hardest part for me was prepping for the final, comprehensive, 7-hour exam. The exam is only available in three “testing windows” each year, March, July and November. My goal was to take it in March and not have it hanging over me throughout Spring/Summer. My only issue was I didn’t finish module 6 until late January, early February, which left me about 4 weeks to refresh over a years' worth of material for what would be the most difficult exam of my life, so I’ll ask it again “how hard could it be?”.

For those of you living under a rock (and good on you for being at the forefront of self-quarantining before it was mandatory), COVID-19 started to impact the stock and bond markets in the U.S. right around mid-to-late February, just at the time I needed to make my final push to study. With the markets’ increased volatility and reacting to news almost instantaneously, it created what felt like a perfect storm of trying to help clients navigate the impacts to their investments and financial plans while trying to make sure I could remember how to calculate the standard deviation of a portfolio or determine the realized and recognized gains of a like-kind real estate exchange. I know what you’re thinking, that sounds FUN!

Perhaps then it was a blessing in disguise since that relatively short window of studying meant I definitely didn’t have time to overthink or “over study”. Luckily for me, I was able to take the test on March 16th, just a day before the Prometric testing centers closed throughout the country. The test itself is not only extremely comprehensive, covering such a wide range of topics, but incredibly detailed, and even with it being broken into two 3-hour chunks, it was still a test of mental stamina. My heartbeat raced as I got to the end and clicked the submit button. I felt like I had done well enough to pass, but the thought of going through the last 16 months and 7 hours and getting a FAIL would have been tough.

Luckily, the words I was greeted with were “Congratulations!......blah blah blah, preliminary PASS!”. I was clearly focused on finding the words pass or fail and didn’t register much else in that moment. Unfortunately, the CFP board takes an additional 3-4 weeks to confirm the results and provide the official Pass/Fail decree, which I finally received on 4/12/20. So, now I’m officially a CFP®, which means I’ll continue to try to add value to our client’s lives through planning, but with some additional experience and a few extra letters behind my name, Adam P. Werner, CFP®.


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