An Open Letter to the CFP® Board

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August 17, 2015
Dear CFP® BOD,

I just completed the survey, but it did not allow me to add any final thoughts.  I wanted to take a moment to share them with you.

I failed the November 2014 CFP® exam after studying for 150 hours and drilling 3,000 Kaplan questions 2-3 times each.  This is the study method that I used to be successful on the CPA exam, the CFE exam and my MBA courses.  I became even more discouraged when I discovered that I scored “medium” in every category.  Medium is defined as “around” the minimally accepted passing score.  This lack of transparency makes it difficult to muster the energy to take the exam again.

One of the reasons I think I failed is due to the fact that I don’t work in the financial services industry.  For example, I recall one of the questions asking about a 1099-R form.  This is probably a softball question for anyone working in financial services, but I answered it incorrectly because I never came across this form during my review course.  I am sure that I missed many softball questions because I’m a fraud investigator rather than a financial planner.

If the CFP® Board is interested in making the CFP® brand more appealing, then I have a few suggestions:

1.  Price-Reduce the price of the exam, especially for those taking it more than once.
2.  Experience-Allow the work experience to be more broad and accumulated over a longer period of time.
3.  Transparency-The CPA and CFE exams provide numerical scores, which allow examinees who fail to concentrate their study efforts in weaker areas.
4.  Exam-Test the ability of the examinee to identify issues and offer solutions rather than remember form names, code numbers, etc.

I may pursue the CFP® mark again when I retire in 2029.

Respectfully,

Philip Kennedy