In 2004, Amar Pandit left a cushy job in the banking and financial sector in the United States to become a financial planner in India. Pandit started his firm, My Financial Advisors, in early 2005, enrolling alongside for a certification in financial planning. “I wanted to start my firm in the US, but I opted for India as the financial planning market had a huge opportunity here,” says Pandit.
Six years down the line, competition for Pandit has not been much. Though there are over 3,000 professionals currently who qualify for the award of CFP Certification (of which nearly 1,500 have been conferred the certification), there is scope for more given the country’s population.
These certificate holders are either self-employed as practitioners of financial planning or are employed in the financial services industry. In addition, over 1,500 candidates have also qualified all the exams and are at various stages of acquiring the requisite experience.
Since the time CFP Certification programme started in India in 2001, over 23,000 candidates have enrolled for it and over 16,000 have been certified either as associate financial planner (AFP) or a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). An AFP can practice in any of the segments – Investment/ Insurance/ Retirement/ Tax/Estate Planning.
The certification requires five papers to be cleared. Those who clear individual exams one to four, get the AFP certification. Those who clear Advanced Financial Planning (exam 5) get the CFP certification. These exams cater to segments such as insurance, investment, retirement and tax planning.
Apart from Financial Planning Standards Board, India (FPSB India), International College of Financial Planning, The Indian Institute of Financial Planning, Ritu Nanda-led RNIS College , etc, offers full-time and executive programmes in financial planning for six months to one year. All the institutes which begin a programme in CFP need to be affiliated to FPSB India.
A candidate is free to schedule the exam on his own at any of the authorised centres of the examination provider authorised by the National Stock Exchange (NSE).
Over 10,000 exams are scheduled every year, says Ranjeet S Mudholkar, Vice Chairman and CEO, FPSB India. And around 50 per cent candidates pass annually.
One needs to have a bachelor's degree with an aggregate 50 per cent marks to take up this course. Having an experience of three years in financial services industry is important, either prior to or after clearing the exams. But, one also needs a year's supervised work experience after qualifying all the exams.
If you are a Chartered Accountants (CA), Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA), MBA (Finance), and so on, with three years’ experience in financial services, you can directly appear for the Advanced Financial Planning paper (Exam 5).
The entire course at FPSB India can cost you between Rs 23,000 and Rs 73,000. The registration fee is Rs 10,000, total exam fee is Rs 13,000 (each exam one to four costing Rs 2,000) and Rs 5,000 for the final paper.