What Does It Mean to Be A CFP®?

What Does It Mean to Be A CFP®?

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the CFP® marks, we asked our CFP® Professionals (senior and aspiring!) to share insights into their career journeys. While you’ll see some differences as they dive into their challenges, their joys, their deep sense of responsibility, and their optimism for the future, you’ll also see at least one clear theme. YOU are the reason we exist and YOU are the best part of being a CFP® Professional. Let’s take a deeper dive into your team’s experiences.

How would you describe your CFP® journey?




Sydney Woodward’s journey started five years ago in her sophomore year of college, and she’s now been a CFP® Professional for a little over one year. She described her journey as “a challenge, yet an immensely rewarding one.” One of the most special parts of the journey, for her, has been “learning from and growing with CFP® Professionals who practice financial planning with so much passion and precision, and, even more importantly, with an approach that is focused on helping our Clients reach their limitless goals and dreams.”

Similarly, Ryan Kelly experienced a four year long journey from his first class to obtaining the CFP® marks, and he’s served as a CFP® Professional for over two years. Ryan said that the journey “required me to work hard and continue learning all along the way, but every class, every Client interaction, and even the exam itself reminded me that I chose this profession because of the impact it has on others.”

A more senior financial planner, Lauren Stansell also described her journey, which began 12 years ago, as “rigorous.” Since becoming a CFP® Professional eight years ago, Lauren said that “maintaining the standards of a CFP® Professional has been easy – not because it’s an easy process, but because I’m so fundamentally aligned with the marks and what it means to be one.” She continued, “It’s all about being a fiduciary and an explorer. We must constantly learn more – about our Clients, about their situations and needs, and about the world around us.”

What expectations do you have of yourself in holding and/or pursuing the CFP® credentials?

For Yusuf Abugideiri, who has been practicing financial planning since 2009, he views the expectations of being a CFP® Professional to be “equal part a responsibility and gift (and so much more!).” He added, “In terms of this particular juxtaposition, it’s impossible not to feel the weight of what our Clients trust us with – their financial lives, their aspirations, the well-being of their loved ones. And in doing the work for them and with them, we get to receive so much – we get to be a part of their lives, we get to learn from them, and we get to grow with them. We benefit so much from these relationships.”

In a similar vein, Ryan also has high expectations for himself and for other CFP® Professionals. In his view, “Holding the CFP® credentials implies a level of competence, care, and integrity. Aside from what is required by CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct, I personally expect myself as a CFP® Professional to be honest, well-informed, humble, curious, confident, and creative. Being a CFP® Professional requires you to make recommendations that are in the best interest of your Clients, and I hold myself to that standard of excellence in all situations.”

Aspiring CFP® Professional, Aubrey Klearman, is just a few years into her CFP® journey, but she has big thoughts on what it means to serve in the profession: “Being a CFP® means having knowledge of every single aspect of financial planning – from understanding detailed information about a Client’s taxes and how to calculate them, to being able to perform complicated financial calculations. There is a lot that goes into it, but knowing all of this only makes me feel more inspired by those around me at Yeske Buie to get my certification.”

What is your favorite aspect of being a CFP® or pursuing the CFP® certification?

“Simply being a part of our Clients lives and being their thinking partners is my favorite part! It’s an honor to be in a space of learning about our Clients more deeply.” – Sydney Woodward


“I love that it will never get boring. It’s impossible to know it all and “it” is constantly changing and being updated. This profession is filled with lifelong learners who do so in recognition of the honor of getting to be in our Clients’ lives.” – Lauren Stansell
“I think that the financial planning profession is a really rewarding career path. You’re surrounded by other professionals with the same passions as you, of helping others live their best lives. Throughout my (short) time in this career, I have appreciated how welcoming and inspirational everybody is.” – Aubrey Klearman
My journey to obtaining the CFP® marks was the realization of a long search for where I belong. I am fortunate to be a CFP® professional because I get to combine an aptitude for more complex financial topics with a passion for understanding people and helping them achieve their goals.” – Ryan Kelly

What are your thoughts on the future of the financial planning profession?

Our team agrees – there are many reasons to be optimistic about the future of the profession thanks to your trust and engagement, the strong foundation laid by the pioneers of the profession, and the passion of the next generation of financial planners.

Lauren Stansell says: “The future of our profession is bright. We are so fortunate to have been led here by amazing pioneers and those who have taken the helm since, and there are countless driven, incredible young planners joining our profession. But our future is not without obstacles – there is significant work to be done in ensuring a sense of welcome and belonging for all who want to join us (and awareness of our profession and access to it). It’s such a great place to be and we have to make sure it’s open to all.”

Yusuf Abugideiri says: “I’ve never been more excited about getting to be a financial planner than I am today.”

Aubrey Klearman says: “I believe the profession will continue to grow and develop. One of the areas I’m passionate about is seeing a future for the profession where professional advice is readily accessible for lower income households.”

Sydney Woodward says: “The future of the profession is so bright! Every year there are thousands of professionals completing their education requirements and sitting for the CFP® exam. The exponential rate of professionals who are eager to meet the high standards laid out by the CFP® Board is encouraging! I have so much pride in the work we do and I love seeing young people entering the profession.”