Certified Financial Planner in Malaysia

My CFP Journey, Part 1: Why, Where and How Much to Be A Certified Financial Planner in Malaysia

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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

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:

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.

Can you claim tax deduction/tax relief for CFP fees in Malaysia?

I contacted FPAM and asked if one can claim tax deduction or tax relief for CFP fees in Malaysia.

This was their answer: “The education fees are not eligible for tax deduction, only the (FPAM) membership fee.”

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

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  1. Yay, new colleague! Haha

    Anyway, taking CFP in Malaysia doesn’t mean you’re a Certified financial planner.

    Just like having to pass all ACCA papers doesn’t mean you’re a chartered accountant.

    CFP is just a qualification to apply for the license to be a financial planner. And to be a financial planner in Malaysia, you must be attached to a financial planning firm. The regulators no longer issue individual license.

    1. I’m in a bind here. Perhaps someone can advice. I want to take the CFP course as kind of a side gig. Throughout the years I’ve been dealing in private equity investment on a personal level. Do I need to be attached to a financial planning firm on a full-time basis? or can it be some kind of part-time job? in order to get certified?

      1. I’m doing CFP course now and I’m not attached to any firm. Neither are my classmates. But after completion, if you want the lisenced financial planner title then yes you must be with financial planning firm. Not sure if can do on part time basis

      2. Just wondering if you have any idea whether the CFP course fees can be claim under the LHDN income tax rm7k relief under Self Education.

  2. Very detailed post Suraya, thanks for sharing this. Honestly I can relate to the “Impostor Syndrome” part – was looking up on CFP but gave up almost immediately after looking at the requirements XD

    More specifically the “3 years related experience” part – since I have no plans to switch my career from IT / Management into Finance 😛

    Hope to hear more from your CFP journey in the future!! Maybe it’ll also serve as a motivation factor heh ^^

    1. TBH they never asked me about the 3 years experience. They asked if I have a degree and that was it!

      In any case I’ll report as I go along heheh

  3. Hi Suraya,

    I understand that taking CFP Certification will help your profile as you are great in communication advise.

    However, if anybody want to take a CFP Certification, what is the advantages and how much can you earn from giving people advise?

    1. Hi Ian,

      See Idham Idris’s comment – includes a link for article titled “What can you do with a CFP certification?”.

      As there are opportunities to earn commission, the income potential is pretty much limitless!

    2. No limit to the income that you can earn… There are licensed financial planners that i know of who earn a 7 figure income per year. But there are also some that earns less than a fresh graduate nowadays.

      How to practice is something that is missing in the current CFP / IFP modules… Which i hope it’s something that the providers would look into for future candidates.

  4. The difference between cfp and rfp is cfp is recognizable in 26 countries, whereas rfp is only recognizable in Malaysia.

    To become certified financial planner, one needs to complete 4 module of cfp + 3 years of related experiences.

    By the way, I did my cfp in kmdc (now know as bridge). The lecturers are awesome!

  5. I could be wrong but you can have the CFP designation as long as you pass the exams have 3 years of relevant experience which includes experience in unit trust, insurance, etc… To have a FAR and CMSR license which allows you to provide financial planning advice you need to be attached to an advisory company.

    1. I passed module 1 🙂 Now doing module 2. Planning to do Part 2 of the CFP journey but not sure what to include. If you have ideas, I’m all ears 🙂

      1. Hi Suraya, nice meeting U. I am retiree. If I want to take up the CFP and a become freelance certified financial practitioner.

        What do think ?

        1. Hi sir,

          There are no restrictions on age, so go ahead if this is the path you want to take! Financial advisory services is a fairly small industry and I believe there’s lots of demand for neutral financial professionals who are not insurance/unit trust/property agents (no shade to them, but the focus is on sales rather than customers)

  6. Hi Suraya & Soo Yee, I need some advice here as I’m planning to go for CFP, but not sure should I go for RFP or CFP, from what Soo Yee was mentioned above I know the significance difference between these 2, but if I take RFP 1st and then CFP 2nd, will it be cheaper in terms of the fees and exemptions? Pls help me out as I really dunno which to choose 🙁

    1. Hi Tannia, I don’t know the answer to your question 🙁 If you find out after your research, may I ask your help to share the info here for everyone to benefit from? Thanks in advance!

    2. I was thinking the same as after taking rfp, there’s exemptions for u to take cfp, but I’m not sure whether my thought was right

  7. Hi Suraya,

    I’ve been checking out your posts lately. They are truly inspiring and informative! Appreciate your continuous effort in posting them!

    That said, I’ve been in the Unit Trust/Insurance industry for 2 years now. I’m looking forward to move forward and get CFP but I realised the module mentioned the requirement of 3 years of related experience… Does that mean I’ll have to practise for 1 more year before pursuing?

    Also, any idea how long will it take for someone to complete the entire module? Thank you and stay safe!

    1. Hi Norman,

      Thanks for the kind words and support!

      Re: taking CFP – try reach out to the education provider and see what they say. What I know is they are really trying to bring up number of financial planners in Malaysia, so who knows!

      Re: how long to finish entire module – 1 module = 1 semester (3~ months). I didn’t know this before, but you *can* take two modules at once. Some of my classmates took module 2 and 3 together

      All the best in your CFP journey! My tip is: ask your lecturer for mock CFP exam questions lol

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