Learn More About the CPA/PFS Credential 

The Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) program allows CPAs to demonstrate their knowledge and expertise in personal financial planning. Whether a CPA specializes in personal financial planning with their clients or interacts with other financial planning professionals, the CPA/PFS credential adds credibility. CPA/PFS credential holders have a specific experience, education and examination requirement that sets them apart from other CPAs and financial planners. 

Apply for the CPA/PFS Credential online!

Program Objectives

The CPA/PFS credential program is designed to achieve the following objectives:
  • Increase public awareness of the CPA as the preferred financial planning credential professional
  • Help credential holders promote their practices through the PFP website and the development of CPA/PFS marketing tools
  • Enhance the quality of PFP services that CPA/PFS professionals provide
  • Increase practice development and career opportunities for CPA/PFS credential holders
Benefits of Becoming a CPA/PFS

 As a CPA/PFS credential holder...
  • You are a member of the PFP Section unrestricted use of the tools you need to best serve your clients, including Forefield Advisor communication tools, practice aids and timely, targeted webcasts
  • You have access to the CPA/PFS Business Development Toolkit with media tips and resources, logos, sample press release, and current PFS marketing activity
  • You can participate in media and public relations opportunities such as radio and television interview, media training, and writing and speaking opportunities
  • You are included on the CPA/PFS Referral Database, a web resource for consumers to learn about the value of the CPA/PFS credential and locate local CPA/PFS credential holders.

The CPA/PFS credential...

  • Distinguishes you from other financial planners – only CPAs can hold the CPA/PFS Credential
  • Affirms your value to current and potential clients and employers, and inspires a greater level of confidence in your expertise
  • Indicates your continual dedication to improving your financial planning skills and expertise
  • Enhances your image as a trustworthy financial adviser: only active AICPA members who abide by the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct can hold the PFS Credential
  • Increases opportunities for client referrals from other practitioners, attorneys, bankers and consumers
  • Affords access to a CPA financial planner community in which you can share, debate, network and communicate with other personal financial planning experts

Additional information on the benefits of the CPA/PFS Credential:

Eligibility/Qualification Requirements
The requirements for the Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) credential are established by the PFP Division staff at the AICPA, the National Accreditation Commission, along with the PFS Credential Committee, and accurately reflect the depth and breadth of experience and technical expertise required to obtain this credential.

The 4 major requirements are:

Obtain the CPA License and be a current member of the AICPA
A PFS candidate must hold a valid and unrevoked CPA permit, license or certificate issued by a legally constituted state authority, and which is in active status.

The CPA license establishes the ethical and professional foundation for the CPA/PFS credential. No other comprehensive financial planning credential requires this level of professionalism as their foundation. Every CPA/PFS credential holder has successfully completed the rigorous CPA exam, has met the strict education and experience requirements, and with membership in the AICPA, has agreed to the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct.

Complete Comprehensive PFP Education
A CPA/PFS candidate must earn a minimum of 75 hours of personal financial planning education within the five year period preceding the date of the PFS application. The AICPA offers PFP education opportunities that qualify. The education must be in the 9 areas that make up the PFP Body of Knowledge, found in the CPA/PFS Credential Application Kit. Alternative sources include a combination of professional CPE, approved courses at an accredited university or college, or presenting and authoring on financial planning subjects.

Consider the PFP education offered in partnership with The American College. In addition, the various PFS exam review options offers additional education in self-study, online and in-person options.

Attain a Specified Level of PFP Experience
Within the five year period preceding the date of the CPA/PFS application, the CPA/PFS candidate must have either: 2 years of full-time business or teaching experience (or 3,000 hours equivalent) in personal financial planning or, for candidates in academia, a qualified credential holder should be a full-time professor and have taught at least 4 accredited college courses with 50% of their material included in the CPA/PFS Body of Knowledge.

The experience must be in the 9 areas that make up the PFP Body of Knowledge, found in the PFS Credential Application Kit . Note that up to 1,000 hours of tax compliance experience can count toward the total experience requirement.
Pass a PFP Examination
The CPA/PFS candidate must successfully pass a PFP-related exam. Successful completion of the following examinations will satisfy the examination requirements for the CPA/PFS credential:


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