My confession of the day is I get inferiority complex about not having financial background or CFP certification, despite being one of Malaysia’s top personal finance bloggers.
Don’t get me wrong. I am confident in my personal finance knowledge and ability to explain it well. But Impostor Syndrome is Impostor Syndrome, so after literal *years* of thinking about it, I’ve finally decided to take the CFP, or Certified Financial Planning course.
When I shared this life update on social media, many people got really interested in the process, so here I am, recording the journey. This article covers the basics:
- why take CFP
- other financial planning certification options,
- CFP vs IFP
- which CFP education provider to choose
- how much it will cost
- and more
I found all the information via online research, so if any sections are wrong/ inaccurate do let me know and I’ll edit 🙂
EDIT: I’ve since completed the course. Read Parts 2 and 3
- My CFP Journey, Part 2: What I Learned in CFP Malaysia Module 1 & 2
- My CFP Journey, Part 3: Certificate in Financial Planning CFP Modules 3 & 4
Why take CFP (Certified Financial Planner)
There’s actually a bunch of certifications I can take under the financial industry umbrella. I could get a Masters in Islamic Finance. I could take an MBA.
However, I picked financial planning and decided to take CFP because it seemed the most practical – after all, I can apply it in my own life AND now I have an additional career option as a licensed financial planner. (Note: I don’t plan to take clients, this is just for me, but the *option* is nice to have!)
It is also practical because technically and legally speaking, only people who are certified can give investment advice. Someone dishing out investment advice without a licence can be jailed for up to 10 years.
Because I know I wouldn’t last a
month week day in jail, I’ve circumvented this by repeating HELLO NOT FINANCIAL ADVISOR to RoR audience as often as I could, to the point of annoying.
CFP vs RFP (Certified Financial Planner vs Registered Financial Planner)
In the financial planning field, two of the most well-known and accredited certifications are:
- CFP (Certified Financial Planner) by Financial Planning Association of Malaysia (FPAM), and
- RFP (Registered Financial Planner) by Malaysian Financial Planning Council (MFPC).
Both ‘licensed financial planner’ and ‘financial adviser representative’ titles are regulated professions by Securities Commissions and Bank Negara Malaysia, ie you cannot simply call yourself one without certification.
From what I know, CFP and RFP are same-same but different – check out Shane Ho’s Licensed Financial Planner vs Financial Adviser Representative article for more in-depth technical differences.
How to get CFP Certification
As listed in the Financial Planning Association of Malaysia (FPAM) website, you must complete 4 modules to get CFP Certification:
- Module 1 – Foundation in Financial Planning and Tax Planning
- Module 2 – Insurance Planning & Estate Planning
- Module 3 – Investment Planning and Retirement Planning
- Module 4 – Financial Plan Construction and Professional Responsibilities
You can skip up to 3 modules if you satisfy some conditions, but if you don’t have any financial background or work experience at all, your only option is Option A. Read more about the pathways here.
CFP vs IFP (Certified Financial Planner vs Islamic Financial Planner)
Financial Planning Association of Malaysia (FPAM) also offers IFP Certification, which stands for Islamic Financial Planner, ie someone who is qualified to do financial planning using
halal shariah-compliant financial products within Islamic framework.
I heard that there are more financial planners with CFP compared to financial planners with IFP, so it’s definitely an edge.
… But why choose? You can get both CFP and IFP. They make it easy, too:
- CFP: take and complete 4 modules
- IFP: take and complete 4 modules
- CFP + IFP (or vice-versa): take and complete 4 modules + take 1 additional module (via Challenger status) = 5 modules total
Originally, I wanted to get IFP first before CFP. However, it seemed like CFP first then IFP is the more efficient (and maybe even cheaper) route. Feel free to prove me wrong.
Timeframe to complete
According to FPAM FAQ page, the shortest time frame to complete CFP is 12 months or 1 module per quarter. There is no maximum – you’ll get the certification as long as you complete all 4 modules and pass all the exams.
EDIT: Some people take 2 modules at the same time!
CFP Malaysia Education Provider
Unlike IFP, where the only education provider is Islamic Banking and Finance Institute Malaysia (IBFIM), there are a few CFP education providers in Malaysia. You can view the options here, divided by regions.
I picked a provider in Klang Valley, simply because they are the nearest CFP education provider to my house (not that it matters because now all classes are conducted via Zoom LMAO), I like the schedule (all weekends) and they got back to me the fastest.
Which CFP education provider should you pick? Up to you. Check the schedules and make sure to pick the one which classes you can attend. Check the costs and make sure you can afford it.
Speaking of cost..
CFP Malaysia Cost Fee: How Much Does it Cost to Take CFP?
Short answer: All-in-all, CFP Malaysia cost fee is around RM10,000.
Long answer: Different providers have different fees. It seems like most providers charge around RM2,000 per module, so expect to pay around RM8,000 if you’re taking Option A, not including examination, registration and other fees.
If you include all the fees, it’s safe to say that getting yourself the CFP title will cost around RM10,000 all-in, from a private* CFP education provider.
*If you went through a non-private education provider, I’d love to hear your experience – from where and how much was it?
Protip: Once in a while these CFP education providers have promotions – I’ve seen one giving 50% off fees for a limited time, so check their websites and social media to catch those opportunities.
Protip: Yes, you can withdraw money from EPF to pay for CFP course. Although taking out retirement money to pay for a financial planning course does sound ironic, ngl. Idk, choose your own storyline.
Any Certified Financial Planners reading?
I have to admit, I am very excited to go on this CFP journey – finally I’ll be able to see the syllabus and structure which CFP professionals have been taught to use in planning their clients’ financial life.
If you’re a Certified Financial Planner, can you share with us more information that might be useful to others interested to take it? Are there any CFP education providers you would recommend, or additional protips? Leave them in the comments section 🙂
P/s – Some people asked me if they should take CFP for DIY financial planning. You can, but I wouldn’t suggest it – I think it’s a bit of an overkill. Much cheaper and easier to hire a financial planner instead – see Get REAL Financial Advice: 3 Ways to Find Financial Planners in Malaysia article.
EDIT: I’ve since completed the course. Read Parts 2 and 3