A personal financial specialist (PFS) is anyone who provides financial planning or other financial services to individuals in a broad sense. A Personal Financial Specialist is a designation available in the United States to any certified public accountant (CPA) who is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). CPAs who obtain this certification can expand their practices to include a variety of financial planning services. CPA licensure, membership in the AICPA, completion of personal financial planning (PFP) coursework, several years of experience in financial planning or teaching, and a passing score on the PFP Exam are all required for those with an undergraduate degree to become a Personal Financial Specialist.
After completing his or her undergraduate studies with an emphasis on accounting, a CPA candidate can prepare for and schedule the CPA Exam. The AICPA’s website has tutorials that explain how the exam is set up and how to prepare for it. Candidates who want to become a Personal Financial Specialist can also find sample tests that show how the formal exam will be structured.
Candidates must select a state in which they wish to practice when registering for the CPA Exam in the United States. Candidates must ensure that they will be properly licensed for the area in which they live because requirements differ from one part of the country to the next. Candidates must wait for approval to schedule their exam after submitting the exam application and paying the fees. After passing the CPA Exam, a candidate will be licensed to practice in the state of his or her choice.
A licensed CPA must join the AICPA to become a Personal Financial Specialist. The PFS candidate can join the association’s Personal Financial Planning Section and register for retirement, investment, insurance, and estate planning courses as a member. Live seminars, webinars, and self-guided study are all options for courses. Candidates for the PFS program must complete a certain number of hours of PFP education, which may include approved coursework at local colleges and universities.
The next step for a candidate who wants to become a personal financial specialist is to accumulate several thousand hours of business or teaching experience in financial planning. That’s about two years of performing PFS duties or teaching courses on various planning topics. PFS candidates who meet the education and experience requirements can register for and take the PFS Exam.
There are over 200 multiple-choice questions on the PFS Exam. These questions assess a candidate’s ability to apply financial planning knowledge to a variety of stand-alone and case study questions. Candidates must pass the PFS Exam in order to become a Personal Financial Specialist and receive the credential.