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Sun, 12 Nov 2023 08:00:00 -0600entext/htmlhttps://www.uwyo.edu/uw/degree-programs/certified-financial-planning.html Personal Financial Specialists: Overview, Requirements, Benefits

What Is a Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)?

A Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) is a certification for certified public accountants (CPAs) that allows them to expand their expertise and offerings to include financial planning and wealth management.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) established the Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) credential, which is reserved for CPAs, meaning holding a CPA is a prerequisite.

There are both educational and professional requirements that must be met before earning a PFS. However, the benefits of holding a PFS are numerous, which include expanded employment opportunities with corporations, consulting firms, and the ability to manage or own a wealth management practice.

Key Takeaways

  • A Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) is a certification for certified public accountants (CPAs), allowing them to expand their expertise to include financial planning and wealth management.
  • PFS applicants study estate planning, retirement planning, investing, insurance, and other areas of personal financial planning.
  • Individuals with the PFS designation may work for accounting firms, consulting firms, or run their own wealth management practices.
  • There are requirements to achieve a PFS designation, including a CPA license, education, a specified level of experience, and passing an examination.
  • An added benefit to the PFS is that candidates know financial planning but also have extensive tax and corporate finance expertise as a CPA.

Understanding a Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)

A Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) certification is exclusively granted to CPAs. According to the AICPA, a PFS certification represents "a powerful combination of extensive tax expertise comprehensive knowledge of financial planning."

PFS applicants study estate planning, retirement planning, investing, insurance, and other areas of personal financial planning. Individuals with the PFS designation may work for accounting firms, consulting firms, or manage their own firm.

Earning the Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) means that individuals have earned the right to use the PFS designation with their names, which can Excellerate job opportunities, professional reputation, and pay.

Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) Requirements

There are four major requirements that are necessary to achieve a personal financial specialist designation, including a CPA license, education, a specified level of experience, and passing an examination. Some of those requirements are outlined below:

CPA License and AICPA Member

Candidates must obtain or hold an unrevoked and valid CPA certification that has been issued by a state. The candidate must also be a current Regular member of the AICPA.

Education and Experience Requirements

There are two pathways that candidates can choose from, depending on their level of experience.

The Standard and Certificate pathways have the following requirements:

  • Possess 3,000 hours of business experience in personal financial planning within the five years previous to applying for CPA/PFS or be a full-time professor having taught at least four accredited courses, of which 50% of the curriculum is in the PFP Body of Knowledge.
  • Up to 1,000 hours of tax compliance experience can count towards the total experience required for the PFS
  • A minimum of 75 hours of personal financial planning education in the five years preceding application for the PFS (Standard Pathway) or study three to five online certificate modules and pass an online exam (Certificate Pathway).

The Experienced pathway has the following requirements:

  • Possess five years of full-time experience (or 7,500 hours equivalent) in personal financial planning within the past seven years
  • The AICPA states that up to 2,000 hours of tax compliance experience can count towards the total experience required for the PFS
  • Earn a minimum of 105 hours of personal financial planning education within the seven-year period preceding the application date
  • Completed the PFS Experienced CPA Education course

A Reinstatement pathway is also available and includes agreeing to the Reinstatement terms.

According to the PFS credential handbook, regardless of the pathway, the education and experience must be in any of the 12 areas that make up the personal financial planning (PFP) Body of Knowledge. The AICPA offers educational courses for personal financial planning covering the syllabus within those 12 areas. However, certain approved courses from an accredited university or college may be accepted as substitutes.

PFP Body of Knowledge

The 12 areas that comprise the PFP Body of Knowledge for the education and experience requirements are listed below:

  1. Personal Financial Planning Process: Includes helping clients establish financial goals, gather data, and build client relationships
  2. Professional Responsibilities, Legislative, and Regulatory Compliance: Includes complying with any licensing requirements from state and federal authorities
  3. Fundamental Financial Planning Concepts: Includes budgeting, analyzing cash flow, income, and spending patterns
  4. Estate Planning: Includes establishing an estate financial plan to determine cash needs in the event of death and potential tax liabilities
  5. Charitable Planning: Involves determining the assets to be allocated for charitable giving and the various types of products available, such as trusts and life insurance
  6. Risk Management Planning: Includes determining a client's financial risks, including disability, illness, and property damage, as well as reviewing the available products to mitigate those risks
  7. Employee and Business Owner Planning: Includes executive compensation, options, the various benefits available for employees, and tax implications
  8. Investment Planning: Involves the review of a client's capital gains and losses, risk tolerance, and investment preferences to determine an appropriate investment strategy
  9. Retirement and Financial Planning: Includes determining a client's cash needs in retirement, financial goals, and the savings needed to meet those goals
  10. Elder and Chronic Illness Planning: Includes helping clients understand the various care and housing options while developing a plan for financial expenses
  11. Education Planning: Involves assisting clients with education planning and funding strategies
  12. Special Situations: Includes defining housing goals, income needs and determining the division of assets in the event of a divorce

Continuing Education

Also, every year, PFS professionals must complete 20 hours of continuing professional education. Annually, they must pay a fee of several hundred dollars to continue using the designation.

A personal financial specialist (PFS) designation offers CPAs the ability to stand out from other financial planners while offering clients an expert who can develop a well-rounded financial strategy.

Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) Exam

The exam requirement for the PFS is extensive, covering the financial planning process and professional responsibilities with syllabus such as tax, retirement, investments, insurance, and estate planning.

The PFS exam consists of 160 questions, half of which are standalone multiple-choice, while the remainder includes case studies with accompanying multiple-choice questions.  

The PFS Experience pathway examination includes a total of 60 questions with one part for each of four case studies. Those who are on the Certificate pathway must pass four 100-minute tests.

The AICPA provides a brief video tutorial that features a mock exam session. The exam can be taken at one of the testing centers or online with a laptop or through a proctored exam via webcam. Candidates are allocated five hours to complete it, as well as a 30-minute break. Experience pathway exams take about 100 minutes.

Exempt from the PFS exam are CPAs who have passed the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) exams. They are deemed to have met the exam requirement.

Benefits of a Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)

Benefits exist for those who hold a PFS certification and clients looking for a financial professional to help them develop a financial plan for the long term.

Professionals have the ability to display their financial expertise by demonstrating their knowledge of financial planning, which can help attract new clients. The PFS certificate can enhance a professional's reputation and professional brand, thus improving career opportunities with the potential of boosting income. An added benefit to the PFS is that candidates have knowledge of financial planning, but they have extensive tax and corporate finance expertise as a CPA.

A CPA who holds a PFS can be particularly beneficial for clients who are looking to develop a financial plan that aligns with their long-term goals while also receiving the benefit of tax and accounting services. Another benefit to clients is that they gain access to a professional who is an expert in elder and estate planning and wealth preservation and retirement income.


Although the personal financial specialist and certified financial planner (CFP) have many similarities, there are distinct differences between the two designations. CPAs with a PFS certification have a well-rounded knowledge of accounting, tax, financial statements, and wealth management. However, a CFP is considered a type of financial advisor since it is given out by the Certified Planner Board of Standards, Inc.

As a result, there is a fiduciary responsibility that CFP's must adhere to, meaning they must provide financial advice that is in the best interest of their clients. CFPs must follow a strict code of ethics as outlined by the Certified Planner Board of Standard’s code of ethics.

Similar to a PFS designation, to earn a CFP, an individual must have 6,000 hours of professional experience and hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. Also, both the CFP and PFS certifications allow candidates to waive some of the requirements if they hold a CFA. However, the CFP does not require candidates to have a prior certification, which contrasts with the PFS prerequisite of holding a CPA certification.

The benefits and employment opportunities of holding a CFP or PFS are numerous, and both certifications offer careers in personal financial planning, retirement, and tax planning. While a CFP allows an individual to offer investment planning, a PFS allows an individual to offer financial management at a corporate finance level due to the CPA certification.

Tue, 17 Oct 2023 12:00:00 -0500 en text/html https://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/personal-financial-specialist-pfs.asp
What is a certified financial planner (CFP)? These financial pros endure a rigorous certification process No result found, try new keyword!A certified financial planner (CFP ... insurance, and retirement planning. The exam consists of 170 multiple-choice questions and is administered in two three-hour sessions over a single day. Tue, 19 Sep 2023 10:16:00 -0500 en-us text/html https://www.msn.com/ Financial Adviser Designations Are Not All the Same No result found, try new keyword!Just because a financial adviser has credentials after their name doesn’t mean they meet the same rigorous standards as others do. How to figure out who you can trust. Wed, 08 Nov 2023 20:40:31 -0600 en-us text/html https://www.msn.com/ Certified Equity Professional Institute
  • Accounting
  • Equity Plan Design
  • Analysis and Administration
  • Corporate and Securities Law
  • Taxation

Candidates can elect to complete just the first level of the program - resulting in the ECA designation, or to continue on for the remaining two levels, at which point they will have earned the CEP designation. The CEP designation is granted to individuals who have passed all three exams, and have demonstrated mastery of equity compensation related issues in all of the core disciplines. The CEP Institute also offers an exam solely focused on accounting; the Advanced Equity Compensation Accounting Certificate (AECA) exam is for financial reporting professionals in any organization that offers equity compensation, as well as the accounting professionals who are required to verify proper expensing under ASC 718 and other standards.

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Wed, 15 Nov 2023 11:46:00 -0600 en text/html https://www.scu.edu/execed/individuals/cepi/
What is a financial consultant? No result found, try new keyword!If you have questions about your money, a financial consultant may be able to help you achieve your financial goals. Tue, 14 Nov 2023 23:31:00 -0600 en text/html https://edition.cnn.com/cnn-underscored/money/what-is-a-financial-consultant FPSB India’s Financial Planning Certification programme emphasises the need for the youth to be financially educated

Financial planning in today’s day and age is one of the most crucial skills required, be it in life or business. For the Financial Planning Standards Board India (FPSB) which is a subsidiary of the global professional body, the Financial Planning Standards Board in the US  primary focus is to set standards for financial planning and provide the Certified Financial Planner certification,  Krishan Mishra, CEO, Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB) India told FE education. “The certification process is rigorous and consists of various levels and modules. It covers syllabus such as investment planning, retirement planning, tax management, estate planning and insurance. After completing these modules and passing the exams, candidates must submit a Financial Planning assessment and take a final case study-based examination,” he added.  

The Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB) is a standard-setting body based in the US, which claims to represent FPSB India as part of this global organisation. FPSB India claims that the certification programme is recognised globally and pursued by students in 27 different territories around the world.

The organisation claims that this certification programme is different from the rest of the accounting courses as it allows individuals to provide comprehensive financial advice. “Accounting primarily focuses on an organisation’s current financial position, while financial planning is a pervasive function that remains essential throughout an individual’s and organisation’s life. Financial planning is required by everyone, from individuals to large organisations,” Mishra said. 

Furthermore, the organisation claims that more than 2.13 lakh individuals have obtained the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification globally. In India, it claims that the number of CFP professionals stands at 2,517. These numbers are continuously growing with more and more students pursuing  this certification each year. “The passing rate for the CFP program varies from session to session. On average, it hovers around 55%. This means that approximately 700 to 800 students may pass the CFP exams each year. However, it’s important to note that while they may pass the exams, they cannot be certified until they complete their graduation and fulfil the required work experience,” he said. 

FPSB India further claims that the coursework emphasises practical and application-based learning. “Once they complete all requirements, they need to fulfil an ethics module and gain supervised experience, either one or three years, before applying for certification. After achieving certification, they can use CFP marks and this certification is recognised worldwide,” Mishra informed.

Further, the organisation claims that the CFP certification programme typically takes between 18 months to two years to complete. It claims that there are two pathways for students. The regular route is for those who start after completion of high school that is grade 12th high school) and complete their graduation. The second route is for individuals who already hold certain relevant qualifications, such as an MBA in Finance or other professional accounting certifications. “For the second route, candidates must need a minimum of three years of work experience in the field of finance and financial services. This pathway can be faster, as it would take around six to seven months to complete the certification,” he added. 

Elaborating the criteria for enrolling in the programme, FPSB claims that interested candidates from any educational background, whether it’s science, humanities, commerce or any other stream can enrol in the programme. As for the enrollment of students, the institute claims that the minimum requirement is to complete high school. “But it’s important to note that you cannot apply for this certification until you complete your graduation. Globally, this certification is equivalent to a post-graduate qualification, so candidates can only apply after completing their graduation,” he said. 

As for the CFP certificate,  the organisation claims that after completing the required modules and exams, candidates need to submit a Financial Planning Assessment, followed by a case study-based final examination. “Once candidates complete things, they must complete an ethics module session and gain supervised experience, either one or three years, under the guidance of a Certified Financial Planner professional. After meeting all these requirements, they can apply for certification and use the CFP marks, which are recognised globally,” Mishra explained. 

Further, the FPSB claimed to have collaborated with 16 education providers to enhance the training and job placement of students. For institutes  the CFP programme offers a wide range of career benefits and job opportunities and professionals can find employment in various sectors, including banks, insurance companies, mutual fund companies, securities firms, treasury departments of organisations, family offices, private banking, wealth management, portfolio management, among others. “The demand for CFP professionals is high, and they have the option to work for established organisations or set up their practices. While competition exists, there are more job opportunities than there are certified professionals, making it a promising field for those who pursue this certification,” he added. 

Tue, 07 Nov 2023 19:51:00 -0600 en text/html https://www.financialexpress.com/jobs-career/education-fpsb-indias-financial-planning-certification-programme-emphasises-the-need-for-the-youth-to-be-financially-educated-3300218/
Why top-performing advisor teams are hiring more certified financial planners
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In July 2022, FP Canada began allowing individuals without a post-secondary degree to qualify for CFP certification if they’ve been a qualified associate financial planner for five years and completed the certification bridge path to CFP certification or had 10 years of qualifying work experience.IPGGutenbergUKLtd/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

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A decade ago, Kurt Rosentreter had five investment advisors on his team who also constructed financial plans. Today, his team members’ titles look a little different. His team now has five wealth managers and also recently hired a dedicated financial planning specialist.

“We’ve fine-tuned as we’ve grown to take on more expertise just in broader planning, and for the first time, have now hired a specialist because there’s so much work in that space,” says Mr. Rosentreter, portfolio manager with Manulife Securities Inc. and president of Upper Canada Capital Inc. in Toronto.

As clients increasingly seek financial advice and planning support for a wide range of life concerns such as supporting children’s post-secondary education, planning for a sabbatical, sustaining their lifestyle in retirement, leaving a legacy for their children and grandchildren, and more – some advisors say they’re shifting their hiring strategies to bring on more certified financial planners (CFPs).

“In the past, the focus and emphasis were often more on investment advice, and now it’s become a more comprehensive and integrated financial planning approach,” Mr. Rosentreter says, adding he has always considered financial planning as part of his practice.

Maili Wong, senior wealth advisor and senior portfolio manager with The Wong Group at Wellington-Altus Private Wealth Inc. in Vancouver, says she believes the value of the CFP designation – and the rigour involved behind qualifying for and maintaining it – has “really increased” over the past few years as the pandemic prompted clients to seek out advice on a broader range of financial concerns. Those reasons are why Ms. Wong has brought more CFPs into her practice.

“The value of advice around planning and holistically having the ability both to solve issues from an investment standpoint but also look at how the investments relate to the genuine [financial plan] is the priority for clients,” she says.

There are approximately 17,000 CFPs across the country, according to FP Canada. Candidates complete an education program and pass a national exam to qualify. In April 2022, the certification and oversight organization’s new rule requiring those applying for the designation to have at least a three-year bachelor’s degree came into effect. In July 2022, FP Canada began allowing individuals without a post-secondary degree to qualify for CFP certification if they’ve been a qualified associate financial planner for five years and completed the certification bridge path to CFP certification or had 10 years of qualifying work experience.

Once certified, CFPs must complete 25 hours of continuing education annually, including two hours of education on professional responsibility.

The evolution of the industry

Ms. Wong believes having more CFPs on staff allows her to offer better services to clients by developing comprehensive financial plans and calibrating their investment plans to meet those goals. Her practice also uses technology enabled by artificial intelligence to run simulations for clients that show them the impact of choices they make on their long-term financial goals, as well as the impact of their investments on their financial plans.

This approach reflects a broader evolution in the financial services industry, she says.

“You’re able to develop a meaningful plan that’s a living and breathing document that investment advisors can then implement through a very sound investment strategy,” she says.

“It’s important to have both, and I think that’s the difference. In the old days, it was just about investing and letting growth work for you and hopefully, everything will pan out.”

Building trust with clients

An-Lap Vo-Dignard, senior wealth advisor and portfolio manager with Vo-Dignard Provost Wealth Management Group at National Bank Financial Wealth Management in Montreal, says having a dedicated CFP is also an important part of building stronger relationships with clients.

While the investment dealer has financial planners and estate planners available for advisors, his team opted to bring a dedicated financial planner onto the team. Mr. Vo-Dignard says his team found the firm’s financial planners were often overwhelmed, which created delays and unnecessary back-and-forth if clients were missing small pieces of information.

“Having someone on our team, it’s quicker, smoother, and it builds trust [with clients],” Mr. Vo-Dignard says, adding that clients appreciate working with someone who knows and remembers their life circumstances, and checks in with them. “It adds value.”

Mr. Rosentreter says investment dealers and financial institutions have historically been light on financial planning support, and it has been up to individual advisors to determine what they want to do on a practice level.

“The research continues to show clients want more than just investment advice,” he says. “If financial firms and practices aren’t on the bandwagon, they need to get there.”

He believes advisors who provide investment advice exclusively will find themselves struggling to compete for new clients and retain existing ones.

“Investment-only advice … has almost become a commodity. ‘Who can get you better returns’ is a slippery slope and every advisor knows it,” he says. “The value-add is service and broader advice tied to goals.”

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Wed, 01 Nov 2023 20:45:00 -0500 en-CA text/html https://www.theglobeandmail.com/investing/globe-advisor/advisor-practice/article-why-top-performing-advisor-teams-are-hiring-more-certified-financial/

AVA exam plan - Accredited Valuation Analyst Updated: 2023

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Exam Code: AVA Accredited Valuation Analyst exam plan November 2023 by Killexams.com team

AVA Accredited Valuation Analyst

Exam: AVA Accredited Valuation Analyst

Exam Details:
- Number of Questions: The exam consists of multiple-choice questions and case studies.
- Time: Candidates are given a specified amount of time to complete the exam.

Course Outline:
The AVA Accredited Valuation Analyst course is designed to provide candidates with a comprehensive understanding of business valuation principles and practices. The course outline includes the following topics:

1. Introduction to Business Valuation
- Overview of business valuation concepts
- Purpose and approaches to valuation
- Legal and ethical considerations in valuation

2. Financial Statement Analysis
- Understanding financial statements and their relevance in valuation
- Analyzing financial ratios and indicators
- Adjusting financial statements for valuation purposes

3. Valuation Approaches and Methods
- Income approach: Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) analysis
- Market approach: Comparable company analysis and transaction analysis
- Asset approach: Adjusted net asset value method

4. Cost of Capital and Discount Rates
- Estimating the cost of equity and debt
- Calculating the weighted average cost of capital (WACC)
- Applying discount rates in valuation models

5. Valuation Adjustments and Considerations
- Considering control and marketability discounts
- Evaluating synergies and premiums
- Addressing specific valuation issues and challenges

6. Valuation Report Writing
- Structure and content of a valuation report
- Communicating valuation findings effectively
- Adhering to professional standards and guidelines

Exam Objectives:
The AVA Accredited Valuation Analyst exam aims to assess candidates' knowledge and understanding of business valuation principles and their ability to apply valuation methods and techniques effectively. The exam objectives include:

1. Demonstrating knowledge of business valuation concepts, approaches, and methods.
2. Applying financial statement analysis techniques to assess the financial performance and position of a company.
3. Utilizing appropriate valuation approaches and methods to determine the value of a business or its assets.
4. Understanding and calculating the cost of capital and discount rates for valuation purposes.
5. Incorporating necessary adjustments and considerations in the valuation process.
6. Writing clear, concise, and well-structured valuation reports that meet professional standards.

Exam Syllabus:
The exam syllabus covers the following topics:

- Introduction to Business Valuation
- Overview of business valuation concepts
- Purpose and approaches to valuation
- Legal and ethical considerations in valuation

- Financial Statement Analysis
- Understanding financial statements and their relevance in valuation
- Analyzing financial ratios and indicators
- Adjusting financial statements for valuation purposes

- Valuation Approaches and Methods
- Income approach: Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) analysis
- Market approach: Comparable company analysis and transaction analysis
- Asset approach: Adjusted net asset value method

- Cost of Capital and Discount Rates
- Estimating the cost of equity and debt
- Calculating the weighted average cost of capital (WACC)
- Applying discount rates in valuation models

- Valuation Adjustments and Considerations
- Considering control and marketability discounts
- Evaluating synergies and premiums
- Addressing specific valuation issues and challenges

- Valuation Report Writing
- Structure and content of a valuation report
- Communicating valuation findings effectively
- Adhering to professional standards and guidelines
Accredited Valuation Analyst
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Accredited Valuation Analyst
Answer: D
Question: 334
The price at which such property would change hands between a willing buyer and a
willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or to sell, and both having
reasonable knowledge of relevant facts is called:
A. Fair market value
B. Appraisal value
C. Standard value
D. Financial value
Answer: A
Question: 335
Method that is commonly used in the valuation of closely held companies in order
to minimize the differences between the subject company and the guideline companies is
known as:
A. Product-line valuation method
B. Qualitative adjustment method
C. Invested capital valuation method
D. Market leverage valuation method
Answer: C
Question: 336
For a non-controlling ownership interest in Warm Chicken, which of the following factor is
considered, that have an impact on the selection of the appropriate discount for lack of
A. Size of the block
B. Transaction activity
C. Dividends
D. All of the above
Answer: D
Question: 337
Which of the following is the most frequently encountered reason for needing to value
debt securities?
A. Purchase or sale for cash
B. Exchange of equity for debt, or vice versa
C. Allocating total enterprise value among classes of securities in a leveraged buyout,
recapitalization (including tax-free reorganizations), or bankruptcy reorganization
D. All of the above
Answer: D
Question: 338
Which theory states that the fair market value of an investment is equal to the present
value of the future payments, discounted back to the current time at an appropriate
discount rate?
A. Valuation
B. Investment
C. Interest payment
D. None of the above
Answer: D
Question: 339
The rate of interest that, when applied to the expected future payments on a debt security,
produces a present value of the payments equal to the debt securitys observed market
price is called the _____________ of that security.
A. Maturity of debt
B. yield to maturity
C. Interest maturity
D. Cost Maturity
Answer: B
Question: 340
Which of the following is the information needed for estimating the value of a closely
held debt security?
A. the amount of future payments generated by the debt security
B. the timing of the future payments generated by the security
C. the appropriate rate of interest or yield to maturity to apply to the future payments to
estimate the present value
D. All of the above
Answer: D
Question: 341
If the market-determined yield to maturity for a debt security is equal to the securitys
coupon interest rate, the securitys fair market value is equal to its face or par value.
A. True
B. False
Answer: A
Question: 342
What allows the debtor to repay the debt prior to its maturity?
A. Fund provision
B. Call provision
C. Debt provision
D. Security provision
Answer: B
Question: 343
Which provision requires the debt issuer to call or retire a contractually determined
portion of the entire debt issue periodically over time prior to the issues maturity date?
A. collateral provision
B. risk provision
C. sinking fund provision
D. Tax provision
Answer: C
Question: 344
A debt security that has no pledge of specific property or assets as collateral for the debt is
A. debenture
B. indenture
C. convention
D. covenant
Answer: A
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If you’re on your way to becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), you might be losing some sleep over the Uniform CPA Examination®.

We don’t blame you. After all, the pass rates for each exam section range from about 40% to 60%, according to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA®)—not the best prognosis. The CPA exam is difficult and time-consuming, but passing it is the most important step of CPA licensure. And at the end of the day, becoming a CPA is worth it to many professionals.

Earning the CPA credential opens doors to high-paying, advanced accounting careers in numerous industries. The 2024 CPA exam comes with a few changes compared to previous years, so make sure to stay in the know if you plan to sit for the exam in or after 2024. We’ve outlined the new exam here to help you research and prepare.

What Is the CPA Exam?

The Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination, also known as the Uniform CPA exam or CPA Exam, is for accountants pursuing CPA licensure. Many employers seeking highly trained accountants require a CPA license, which involves rigorous coursework and skill testing to earn.

AICPA develops the CPA exam, and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and its included state boards of accountancy assist with reviewing applications, administering the exam and reporting scores.

The CPA exam consists of four sections, testing candidates on syllabus like taxation, financial planning, auditing and accounting technology.

What’s New About the CPA exam in 2024?

The 2024 CPA exam introduces a new “discipline” section, including three options:

  • Business analysis and reporting (BAR)
  • Information systems and controls (ISC)
  • Tax compliance and planning (TCP)

Candidates choose one of the three disciplines to test on. Candidates must also test within the three required Core sections:

  • Auditing and attestation (AUD)
  • Financial accounting and reporting (FAR)
  • Taxation and regulation (REG)

The 2024 version of the CPA exam eliminates the business environment and concepts (BEC) section and transitions some portions of FAR and REG into the new disciplines. Since the BEC section was the only one to include a written essay, the essay portion is eliminated from the 2024 CPA exam.

Additional changes include replacing an Excel spreadsheet with a JavaScript-based spreadsheet, implementing new task-based research simulations and eliminating multistage adaptive testing.

CPA exam Requirements

Each state board of accountancy within NASBA sets its own requirements to sit for the CPA exam, so criteria may vary among states. However, many state boards require at least the following from candidates before they’re eligible to take the CPA exam:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a 120-credit bachelor’s degree in accounting or a bachelor’s degree with a certain number of credits in non-introductory accounting courses and business courses
  • Submit official school transcripts, a credit evaluation application and proof of residency

Education requirements vary the most among state boards of accountancy. For instance, Georgia only requires exam candidates to have a bachelor’s degree with 20 semester hours in non-introductory accounting courses. However, Rhode Island sets more specific stipulations for CPA exam applicants who don’t have a graduate degree in accounting, including at least 24 accounting semester hours covering distinct subjects like auditing and tax accounting.

CPA exam Structure

The three cores and three disciplines of the CPA exam each include both multiple-choice questions and task-based simulations. The exam lasts 16 hours in total—four hours per section—and candidates can take different sections of the exam on different days rather than in one sitting.

Still, test takers must complete and pass all four sections within 18 months—usually beginning on the day a candidate takes their first passed section—to pass the exam. We explore the four sections in detail below.

Auditing and Attestation

The AUD section tests a candidate’s understanding of the technical and ethical aspects of auditing for public and private entities. AUD also covers reporting requirements, risk assessment strategies, obtaining evidence and ethical responsibilities for CPAs.

AUD is divided into four content areas:

  • Area I: Ethics, professional responsibilities and general principles
  • Area II: Assessing risk and developing a planned response
  • Area III: Performing further procedures and obtaining evidence
  • Area IV: Forming conclusions and reporting

Financial Accounting and Reporting

The questions and tasks in the FAR section target three content areas:

  • Area I: Financial reporting
  • Area II: Select balance sheet accounts
  • Area III: Select transactions

Within these sections, candidates prove their ability to prepare and analyze financial statements, balance sheets with various types of income and expenses, correct accounting errors, and navigate the differences in financial accounting and reporting for for-profit and nonprofit companies.

Taxation and Regulation

The REG section explores tax laws for businesses and individuals within the United States, ensuring that CPA candidates understand the significance of and procedures for compliance. Candidates work with taxation technology and resources to analyze data and determine the correct processes for accuracy and completeness.

This section includes five content areas:

  • Area I: Ethics, professional responsibilities, and federal tax procedures
  • Area II: Business law
  • Area III: Federal taxation of property transactions
  • Area III: Federal taxation of individuals
  • Area III: Federal taxation of entities


CPA candidates must choose one of three disciplines as the fourth section of the CPA exam.

Previous versions of the CPA exam included the BEC section, which explored corporate governance, information technology, financial and operations management, and economic concepts. The discipline section replaces BEC, allowing candidates to test in an area of interest or advanced skill.

This section offers the following testing areas:

  • Business analysis and reporting: BAR expands on several concepts in FAR, including data collection sourcing, financial analysis and reporting, while closely examining business analysis and local and state governmental accounting.
  • Information systems and controls: ISC focuses on secure and accurate data collection, storage and analysis procedures used in accounting. Candidates must demonstrate knowledge of information technology audits, security threats and mitigation, and security regulations.
  • Tax Compliance and Planning: TCP digs deep into taxation for individuals and entities beyond what’s included in REG. TCP syllabus and tasks include calculating estimated tax payments, reviewing shareholder debts and investments, and distinguishing types of business entities for tax purposes.

How Is the CPA exam Scored?

CPA exam scoring weighs the scaled scores of multiple-choice questions and task-based simulations of each section equally at 50% of the total score. The only exception is the ISC discipline, in which multiple-choice questions make up 60% of the score and task-based simulations account for 40%.

Each exam goes through a multi-step review process to ensure scoring accuracy.

How Hard Is the CPA Exam?

If AICPA’s pass rate data is any indication, this is a hard test. During the first two quarters of 2023, these were the pass rates for each section of the CPA exam:

  • REG: 59.22%
  • AUD: 47.68%
  • FAR: 42.30%
  • BEC (eliminated from the 2024 exam): 58.25%

How To Study for the CPA Exam

The CPA exam process is long and rigorous, so planning can be the key to passing each section. Before you begin studying, plan your timeline carefully.

In what order do you want to take each section? How will you space out the various sections to give yourself ample study time? Keep track of exam application deadlines, and think about when you should schedule study sessions. Also, consider whether you’ll need to take some time off work.

AICPA’s exam Blueprints offer an excellent starting point for your test prep. The blueprints walk you through each section of the CPA exam, filling you in on what to expect and what to study.

CPA exam Study Resources

AICPA offers official resources for continuing education for practicing accountants. Though you aren’t yet a CPA, you might find these materials helpful while studying for your CPA exam. They are categorized into many of the same syllabus you’ll work with on the exam, like auditing and financial reporting, and many are free or discounted for AICPA members.

You can also practice with a shortened sample test from AICPA, which familiarizes you with the CPA exam software.

Several other online resources are available to help you study for the CPA exam, although it’s important to ensure courses and materials are up to date and designed or taught by credentialed instructors. AICPA hosts a database of CPA exam preparation resources, including costs and user ratings for each to help you narrow your options.

CPA exam Study Methods

Preparing for the CPA exam takes significant motivation and focus, and studying with other CPA exam candidates could help you stay on track. Consider looking for study group participants at work, through your local professional organization or from your graduating class. You might also find nearby candidates through social media groups.

Collaborate with your study group members to decide which materials you’ll use, whether you’ll host meetings in person or online, and how often you’ll study so everyone can stay on track.

If you’d like to study solo, find a quiet, dedicated space for sessions and make room in your schedule for several hours of exam preparation each week. Consider getting support from a trusted colleague or mentor when necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the CPA Exam

Is the CPA harder than the bar?

The CPA exam and bar exam are both known for their challenging content. However, based on the passing rates for each, the CPA exam generally appears more difficult to pass than the bar. Depending on the jurisdiction, the July 2023 bar exam saw pass rates ranging from 58% to 92%, according to the National Conference of Bar Examiners. The highest cumulative passing rate for any section of the CPA exam during the first two quarters of 2023 was 59.22%.

How many questions are in the CPA exam?

The CPA exam comprises between 250 and 282 multiple-choice questions, plus 28 or 29 task-based simulations, depending on the discipline section you choose. ISC has the most questions and simulations in total, followed by TCP and BAR.

Tue, 31 Oct 2023 02:14:00 -0500 Amy Boyington en-US text/html https://www.forbes.com/advisor/education/cpa-exam-guide/
Certified Financial Planning

The certificate is composed of 18 credits of masters-level graduate coursework with the primary goal of providing students with the education, training and skills necessary to be able to sit for the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) examination. 

The curriculum is aligned with the CFP® Board’s Principal Knowledge syllabus and covers principles and practices of essential areas of financial planning, including:

  • Wealth Management
  • Investment Management
  • Tax Planning
  • Estate Planning
  • Insurance and Retirement Planning

CFP students enjoy the opportunity to work with clients at the Low-Income Tax Clinic for graduate credit and CFP exam experience.

Have Questions?
For more information about the CFP Graduate Certificate, including tuition and fee information, please email Justine Tydings, our Sr. Recruiting Coordinator. 

The UW College of Business and the certified Financial Planning certificate program are nationally accredited by AACSB.

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Students must take the following required courses to receive their certificate*:

  • FIN 5070: Tax Planning for Financial Planners (3)
  • FIN 5310: Investment Management (3)
  • FIN 5720: Retirement/Insurance Planning (3)
  • FIN 5750: Fundamentals of Financial Planning (3)
  • FIN 5780: Estate Planning (3)
  • FIN 5800: CFP Capstone (3)

View the full online certified financial planning certificate degree program curriculum.

*Accelerated path candidates — candidates who bypass the other education requirements — are only required to take FIN 5800: CFP Capstone.

As a CFP® professional, you can assist with developing and executing financial strategies for your clients. You will help others create financial goals based on existing financial conditions and risk tolerance. CFP®s can offer guidance on managing debt, picking investments, preparing for retirement and setting aside money for both short- and long-term goals.

Certified Financial Planner Careers

Here are just a few places our University of Wyoming alumni are making a difference with a certified Financial Planning certificate:

  • University of Wyoming Foundation
  • Wyoming Retirement System
  • Wells Fargo Advisors
  • Northwestern Mutual
  • Raymond James
  • Creative Planning
  • Merrill Lynch
  • Golden Tree Asset Management
  • Frontier Asset Management
  • Hiltop Bank
  • Edward Jones
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Financial Planning Certificate Program Highlights

In 2021, the University of Wyoming's certified financial planning certificate program had a 100% pass rate on the CFP exam.

100% Online

Due to the entirely online nature of our curriculum, you can continue working according to your usual schedule. We want this program to benefit a wide range of people, whether you're pursuing another graduate degree or acquiring your Financial Planning certificate as a non-degree-seeking student. Developing your career doesn't have to make your daily life more difficult or demanding.

Exceptional Faculty

The CFP Certificate program was the best decision I made in my graduate education. I had no idea how valuable this program would be not only for my personal life, but also my career development. The faculty were highly qualified and always available to help explain concepts and mentor me throughout the program.


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