The Great CFP® Gap: Why 98% of the Program Isn’t Helping You (and What To Do About It)

Admit it.

You’ve studied months, weeks, days, nights, and even more to pass a rigorous 10-hour CFP-exam.

You’ve scrutinized all the financial planning material that teaches the ‘mechanics’ of your profession, to finally get the degree you dreamed of.

To finally learn the stuff that will transform you into a smarter person. And not just any smarter person … a Certified Financial Planner.

Wow, that’s something to be proud of.

Because as of then, the world is going to be at your feet.

Or will it?

The CFP program has an uncanny power to teach us, to build our knowledge, to get us a degree in the profession we love.

Because the CFP program is THE program for mastering the craft of financial planning.

It’s THE program to learn:

  • Risk management
  • Tax planning
  • Professional conduct and regulation
  • Investment planning
  • And much more

But it doesn’t end there, unfortunately.

Why It Doesn’t Matter How Great the CFP Program is

Look, I know you work hard on your financial planning craft – and if you study and apply all the great knowledge you learn in the program, it’s a safe bet that you’re helping people with their financial situation. Granted.

And when you know you’re doing legitimately excellent work, you can easily fall into the rainbows-and-unicorns financial planning fantasy. You know the one. It goes like this:

  • You let people know you finally have your CFP degree, and they nicely say that they were just looking for a certified financial planner, and ask you to make an appointment at your office;
  • When they’re at your office you have an in-depth conversation about financial goals, and they are devouring the intellectual conversation you’re conducting;
  • Having fallen head over heels in love with you and your service, they hire you for crafting a financial plan, so that they can follow up on your advice, and become evangelists for your financial planning service.

Oh, what a wonderful world it would be, right?

But the harsh reality of the situation is this:

Most people don’t even know what CFP means. 

The Problem Every Financial Planner Immediately Understands

Mastering the craft of financial planning depends upon your continuing education as a financial planner.

It means you regularly upgrade and fine-tune your skills.

And when you hear people say you should keep educating yourself, you think, “Yeah, I should!”

Then a little voice in your head whispers something like, “But what should I do, I already have my CFP-degree, what on earth comes next?”

That is the key, isn’t it?

You don’t know.

You don’t know which type of education will set you apart from on all the other CFP’ers, and that will rocket your knowledge, skills and financial planning service into the heavens.

That’s why you mostly end up doing … nothing.

Or worse, you decide to follow another “left-brain, knowledge-based education”. Like Chartered Financial Analyst. Or heck, maybe even another financial planning degree!

The effect?

Pursuing another degree will NOT make you a smarter person.

You disagree, right?

You think: of course this will make me smarter because I will gain some extra knowledge.

But let me ask you this:

  • Does this extra knowledge help you serve more clients?
  • Does it help you to engage people in financial planning?
  • Does it help you to matter to your clients?

No need to explain, right?

In 2008 I finally finished my 3.5 years financial planning program at the University of Amsterdam. I was now a Master of Financial Planning.

Boy, was I proud.

I was ready to rule the world with my financial planning service. I was ready to help dozens and dozens of people with my (ultimate) financial planning knowledge.

That was 2008. Fast forward to 2011:

  • Did I have a thriving financial planning business? No.
  • Did I know how to engage people in financial planning? No.
  • Did financial planning matter to people? No.

I’ve experienced it. I was the ultimate knowledge machine. The #1 number cruncher. But did I accomplish anything?


The Truth About Smart Financial Planners

What I’ve learned over the past few years, is that if you want to have a thriving financial planning service, you need to get smarter.

No, not smarter as in pursuing another financial-planning-degree. What I’m referring to, is becoming smarter using your people skills.

Like when people have a conversation with you and walk away thinking, “Holy crap, that financial planner is amazing!”. Or like when people come away from your conversation with a whole new perspective.

And I hear you think: “That’s not necessarily smart. That’s just being human.” But I don’t think that’s all it is. Here’s a few examples:

  • Smart planners are able to find people’s problems by asking the right questions
  • The things smart planners say are truly original. People have never heard it anywhere before. Ever
  • People find themselves thinking about things these smart planners said weeks or even years into the future

Smart financial planners are building magical connections with the right people, doing work that really matters, and they have a thriving business because they are fulfilling their potential by using their people skills.

Now take a look at this pic here below.

Sorry about the Dutch language … 🙂

This is my grade list from the Master of Financial Planning program.

And if I categorized every module as “left-brain knowledge-based” or as “right-brain people-based”, it would look something like this:

Left-brain, knowledge-based: Investment planning (Beleggen), Economics (Economisch beleid), Estate planning, Tax Planning (Fiscale aspecten), Number crunching (Kwantitatieve methoden), Retirement planning (Pensioenen), Real esate (Vastgoedbeleggingen), Inheritance legislation (Huwelijks-vermogens erfrecht).

Right-brain people-based: Behavioural finance

It gets worse.

The behavioral part wasn’t even a real module. I just had to attend three classes, and that’s it …

So there’s a disproportional ratio in this program:

Left-brain >> 98%

Right-brain >> 2%

And what’s most disappointing: The CFP program isn’t going to solve this problem.

How to Bridge the CFP Gap 

So, it’s time to ask yourself the question: Do you want to become a smarter financial planner?

If the answer is “yes”, then you might be looking for some extra education that sets you apart.

If you could only find the right education, the tried-and-true education taught by trusted masters.

And if you’re lucky, you’ll find a course or program that speaks to your heart and gets to the core of what you’re struggling with right now. It will change you. It will change your skills. It will change your life.

Knowing the result of a program before you buy it is an appealing notion.

The reason it’s so alluring is that you’re expecting a result:

  • Relate to clients and prospects
  • Guide your financial planning conversation
  • Get clients to take action
  • Having a compelling call to action
  • Build a sense of urgency
  • Picking up signals rather than just words
  • Establishing trust with prospects and clients
  • Having a pipeline of leads
  • Understanding why people buy your financial planning service
  • Have engaging life conversations with clients
  • Establish yourself as an authority
  • Having engaging and consistent content for your website
  • Make people believe in the value of quality advice
  • Get more clients for your financial planning service

Unfortunately, few programs come with a guaranteed result.

That’s why I’m introducing Smart Financial Planner.

Click the logo for more details




Smart Financial Planner is about bridging the gap between your CFP and real-life financial planning. It’s about empowering financial planners to make financial planning matter, by teaching you people skills, online marketing and how to get clients.

And you might be wondering: Is Smart Financial Planner something for me?

Well, it depends, because financial planners span a wide spectrum. However, they do fall into three distinct groups:

The Irresistible Financial Planner

This is the connector.

This is the planner who does work people MUST talk about. This is the planner who stands out, because the financial planning service, the experience, the engagement is worth talking about. It’s not better by definition, but it’s so engaging, you cannot help but talk about it.

People want to belong to this planner’s community.

Are you already an Irresistible Financial Planner? Smart Financial Planner isn’t for you.

The Niche Financial Planner

These planners are “the one and only”. They best serve their target audience. Audiences like airline pilots, medical specialist, or teachers. They focus on “who they do it for”.

And that’s why those planners do get noticed. People recognize themselves in who the planners say they serve best.

The Niche Planner’s message is: “If you want to be served by someone who really knows you, come to me”

They get noticed, but do clients engage with them? Do they refer to them? Do they buy from them?

Yes, they’ve gotten their feet wet learning about online marketing, people skills and proven strategies to getting new clients. But does it really work?

Are you a Niche Financial Planner? Then yes. Smart Financial Planner is something for you.

The Expert Financial Planner

The Expert Planner is a financial planner who has invested lots and lots of time and energy in becoming the most knowledgeable planner that ever existed. The Expert Planner is almost by definition “better” than the competition.

People notice him because of his designation-arsenal, experience and extensive knowledge. He (hopes to) get(s) picked.

The truth is, he doesn’t get picked often enough (although he’s truly the best). You see, most people won’t bother noticing because they aren’t looking. They don’t have time to seek out if they’re better than the competition. Because there’s just too much to look at nowadays, and not enough time to take it all in.

The Expert Planner’s message is: “If you want the best financial planner, come to me”.

That doesn’t bring the results you deserve unless you take it to the next level.

Are you an Expert Financial Planner? Then yes. Smart Financial Planner is definitely something that will help you.

Reject Randomness and Become Smarter

It’s time to admit it.

You’ve invested too much energy in your CFP® program to accept minimal results.

But the truth is, education-randomness is killing your precious time (and chances for success).

Without a coherent strategy for turning your time into results, you’ll burn out before reaching your destination.

You don’t have to create a complicated plan—you just need to work out what program will move you and your service from one stage to the next.

So, why not join Smart Financial Planner?

Your service deserves it.

Your clients deserve it.

And you sure as heck deserve it too.

Let’s make financial planning matter,

Ronald Sier

Leave a Reply 4 comments

Flg Reply

True client stickiness

Sonny Rains Reply

I’d like to check out this educational tool.

ElWood Reply

Are CFP allowed to use their designation in States other then the one they practice in? Since being a CFP is not regulated by ANY state Board . Does that mean one could be aq CFP in DC-MD-VA and not be licensed by ANY state board?

Johann Cloete Reply

I just need to correct one fact. There is no CFP degree. CFP is a designation bestowed on you if you have completed the relevant qualification, comply with CPD- Continues Professional Development and subscribe to a Code of Ethics and belong to a Professional body.

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