AICPA adds financial planning certificate program

In the wake of the new tax law, increased demand for retirement planning services and tax planning extends beyond the wealth management industry. To help meet this need, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants introduced a Personal Financial Planning Certificates Program.

The new program will grant certificates to accountants and advisors who are not CPAs. However, the Personal Financial Specialist credential, which was introduced in 1987, remains exclusive to CPAs.

The program will cover and offer certificates on five key topics: retirement planning, estate planning risk management and insurance, investment planning and the practical application of the planning process. Tax planning considerations are covered across all five certificates.

The AICPA pointed to estimates that 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 each day over the next decade, according to the Pew Research Center. Thanks to the aging population, employment of personal financial planners is projected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to grow 15% from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. The new program will help CPAs meet this growing demand.

“The PFP Certificate Program offers CPAs a new way to develop their financial planning skill set while also working towards the Personal Financial Specialist credential,” said Association of International Certified Professional Accountants vice president of advisory services and credentialing Jeannette Koger in a statement. “CPAs now have increased flexibility to learn what they need to know in specific areas of financial planning on their own schedule.”

The PFP Certificates cover the AICPA PFP Body of Knowledge in various disciplines. The program includes online education to prepare CPAs for each certificate exam. They receive the certificates after learning about real-life planning situations and completing the relevant exams.

CPAs who enroll in the program and receive all five certificates will have satisfied both the education and examination requirements for the PFS credential. The comprehensive PFS credential exam will be available exclusively for CPAs who decide to pursue that pathway. While only CPAs can earn the PFS credential, the education and certificates are open to non-CPAs.

“This new curriculum presents CPAs an opportunity to deepen their financial planning expertise,” said AICPA director of financial planning Andrea Millar in a statement. “Many CPAs have a foundational understanding of tax, estate, retirement and the financial issues business owners face. The certificate program provides in-depth education that helps CPAs fine-tune and integrate these personal financial planning services.

Michael Cohn

Michael CohnMichael Cohn, editor-in-chief of, has been covering business and technology for a variety of publications since 1985.

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