Be in Demand: Becoming a CPA Financial Planner

Individuals, families and business owners are in need of objective advice, which CPA financial planners are best positioned to provide given the profession’s long-standing regulatory framework, the Code of Professional Conduct, universally recognized for the qualities of integrity, objectivity, due care and competence and through enforceable guidance in the delivery of PFP services, AICPA Statement on Standards in PFP Services.

Connect with the CPA Financial Planning Profession

  • Students and professors can experience the 2016 AICPA Advanced Personal Financial Planning Conference, where they can network and learn from the best of the best in this discipline, at deeply discounted pricing. Contact a member of the PFP team for more information.
  • PFP Section member resources will bolster your curriculum and classroom activities. If you are not yet a PFP Section member, we invite you to explore our resources. Contact a member of the PFP team about your interest and to receive a guest username and password.
  • Review the CPA/PFS credential program, to learn how to gain and demonstrate competence and confidence in providing estate, tax, retirement, risk management and/or investment planning advice to individuals, families and business owners through experience, education, examination, and a resulting credential. Students may sit for the PFS exam at any time and at no charge.


  • PFP is forecasted to grow two times faster than the accounting profession through 2017. (IBISWorld 2014)
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected the need for the number of personal financial advisors to increase 27 percent nationwide between through 2022.
  • There are 10,000 baby boomers per day turning age 65 until 2030, when all Baby Boomers will have reached age 65. (Pew Research Center 2010)
  • New generations of CPAs want less compliance/routine work and more future oriented and value driven work such as PFP. (2020 Survey, Chris Frederiksen, CPA/PFS, Chairman 2020 Group)
  • CPA financial planners surveyed rank their careers in PFP higher than non-PFP jobs, noting that they enjoy helping clients and having a positive impact, find PFP intellectually challenging, and enjoy the financial benefits, flexibility and control of their work environment. (Preliminary results from AICPA PFP Career Path Survey)
  • There are new and dynamic tax complexities that CPAs understand best and that are critical to understand in a wide scope of financial planning advice.
  • In addition to growing demand from clients, there is a growing opportunity for leadership positions as firms and sole practitioners seek out successors.
  • Average total compensation among CPA/PFS credential holders is 11% higher than that of CPAs without the specialty credential. (2013 AICPA Compensation Survey)

Be in Demand: Making Your Education Count

  • College students should be aware that even though CPA requirements to qualify for the examination vary from state to state, 40 states require that CPA candidates complete 150 credit hours and the remaining states are moving toward adoption of this requirement. This credit hour requirement can be satisfied either through enrollment in an advanced degree program (Masters-level, such as MA, MST, etc.) or the completion of additional undergraduate level courses. A tailored Masters-level program may be the most effective way to formalize a PFP program in the university.
  • If planned properly, the 150 credit undergraduate program may still be completed in four years by attending summer sessions, while preparing students for the CPA exam in addition to other personal financial planning (PFP) specific designations and credentials.
  • Curriculum to meet this 150-hour requirement should include a well-rounded personal financial planning (PFP) program that will prepare students to become CPA financial planners and eventually attain additional credentials, such as the CPA Personal Financial Specialist (CPA/PFS).
    • The AICPA is in the process of developing a masters-level 3.0 credit hour “Essentials of Personal Financial Planning” course for professors and students to use, which will cover the core PFP bodies of knowledge including estate, retirement, tax, investment, and insurance/risk management planning.
    • Check with your university regarding in-depth courses that may cover the PFP bodies of knowledge that align with the Content Specification Outline for the PFS exam:
      • Professional responsibilities
      • Personal Financial Planning Process
      • Fundamentals of Financial Planning
      • Income Tax Planning
      • Insurance Planning
      • Investment Planning
      • Retirement Planning
      • Estate Planning
      • Charitable Planning
      • Employee Benefits
      • Other PFP Issues
    • The AICPA is developing a robust education package that will prepare students and professionals to take the PFS exam. Contact the PFP Division staff for more information.
    • Students are eligible to sit for the PFS exam at no charge while in school, allowing you to distinguish yourselves and be viewed as more desirable to prospective employers. Individuals who successfully pass the exam will be granted the credential after attaining a CPA license or certificate and completing other requirements, such as the necessary education and work experience. Refer to the NASBA Standards for Continuing Professional Education to learn how university course credit can be used to meet the education requirement for the CPA/PFS credential.