2020-2021 CE Guidelines
NAPFA’s continuing education (CE) policy is an important part of its commitment to maintaining the highest competency standards in the industry. NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisors complete 60 hours of CE across a broad range of subjects during the two-year CE cycle. (Your CE total may be prorated, depending on when you join NAPFA.)
Each two-year CE cycle begins January 1 of an even-numbered year and ends December 31 of the following year. NAPFA is currently accepting CEs for the 2020-2021 CE Reporting Cycle, which runs 1/1/2020-12/31/2021 for all NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisors.
CE how-to videos
Watch these quick videos about the NAPFA CE process:
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Frequently asked questions
I understand that I have unique CE requirements during my first CE cycle. What are they?
To ensure a broad range of ongoing educational efforts during a member's first NAPFA CE cycle, no more than 15 CE hours of the 60 required (see prorated totals, below) may be earned within any one Core Area subject, and no more than 5 CE hours may be earned in any one Elective Area subject. (See complete subject area list, ahead.)
1. A minimum of five approved CE hours is required in each of six Core Area subjects:
- B - Insurance & Risk Management
- C - Investments
- D - Income Tax Planning
- E - Retirement Planning & Employee Benefits
- F - Estate Planning
- J - Communications
2. A 2-CE approved course is required in Core Area subject:
- G - Ethics of Financial Planning
These requirements and your progress toward them are shown on your CE Summary Report. The 28 additional CE hours of the 60 CEs required (see proration guidelines, below) may be earned in either Core or Elective Areas, up to their Subject Area maximums.
Prorated CE totals for new members. Requirements are prorated for new members based on their start date:
- Jan.-June, 2020: 60 total CEs required; 5 CEs required in each of Six Core Area subjects, plus an approved 2-CE course in Ethics
- July-Dec, 2020: 45 total CEs required; 4 CEs required in each of the Six Core Area subjects, plus an approved 2-CE course in Ethics
- Jan.-June, 2021: 30 total CEs required; 3 CEs required in each of the Six Core Area subjects, plus an approved 2-CE course in Ethics
- July-Dec, 2021: 15 total CEs required; 2 CEs required in each of the Six Core Area subjects, plus an approved 2-CE course in Ethics
What are my CE requirements after I’ve completed my first CE cycle?
All NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisors who have already completed at least one cycle of CE reporting (prorated or not) must complete 60 CEs in the two-year CE cycle, with the option to report 58 CEs in any Core or Elective Area subject(s) with no CE minimums or maximums; at least 32 of these CEs must still come from approved sources. An approved 2-CE Ethics course also remains mandatory.
What programs are acceptable for NAPFA CEs?
The 60-CE program is based on the honor system. You are ultimately responsible for deciding what Subject Areas your CE activities represent, and what you consider to be appropriate and valuable for your continuing professional education within these guidelines:
- The 32 required Core Area hours (for those members in their first CE reporting cycle) are shown in the first table of your Summary Report. They must be from live programs or recorded/self-study courses (with the book/journal/magazine limitation described below) that are offered/accepted by NAPFA, CFP®, CFA, CPA, CLE, CLU, EA, ChFC, CIMA, CIMC, CPWA, CRPS, RICP, CDFA, AIF or state licensure.
For consideration of other programs as Core Area CEs, please submit complete information to Heidi Tennant.
While members in their subsequent CE cycles do not have specific Core Area requirements, 32 of their 60 CEs must still come from live programs or recorded/self-study courses (with the book/journal/magazine limitation described below) from the approved sources. The remaining 28 CEs to achieve the 60 required may come from a wider range of programs, and may include CEs from:
- Reading (record as Study Type “Reading”) – A total of 8 hours of the remaining 28 Core/Elective Area hours may be acquired as a result of books/journals you read:
- Each book counts as 1 credit hour, regardless of the number of pages. Include title, author and publisher in your reporting of book CEs.
- Each trade/professional magazine/journal counts as 1 credit hour if you pass the associated quiz. (These publications often have "Magazine" or "Journal" in their titles, and may be differentiated with month/year or issue/volume designations; they must have been published within the two-year CE cycle.) This does not include online self-study courses that you complete for CEs by reading the course content, like a tax update course or the CFP-accepted postings on a site like kitces.com, which can be classified as the study type of "Classroom/Web" instead of "Reading." If you have questions about whether something should be categorized as a reading CE, please email email@example.com with a link to the source for a quick response.
- Writing (record as Study Type “Writing”) – A total of 8 hours of the remaining 28 Core/Elective Area CEs may be obtained as a result of what you author. Any article or book published by an independent third party will earn 2 credit hours. Writing blogs, articles for company newsletters and websites, and legislative responses are not considered being “published.”
- Teaching/presenting (record as Study Type “Presenting”) – A total of 8 hours of the remaining 28 Core/Elective Area CEs may be earned from presenting consumer-, student- or advisor-oriented sessions, at 1 CE per each 50 minutes of instruction.
- Pro bono service (record as Study Type " Pro Bono Service") – A total of 4 hours of the remaining 28 Core/Elective Area CEs may be earned by providing free, no-strings-attached financial advice and planning for underserved people, including low-income individuals and families, military personnel/veterans (see Building Homes for Heroes), and domestic violence survivors, as well as people affected by natural disasters, serious medical crises, or bankruptcy. This pro bono service must be provided by or in conjunction with a volunteer CFP professional.
- As with the CFP® Board, 50 minutes of participation time qualifies for 1 CE, with 0.5 CEs earned for every subsequent 25 minutes of instruction.
- Programs that are educational in nature are acceptable; sales presentations are not.
- Hours must be earned within the two-year reporting period and may not be carried over to the next reporting period. Trade journals read for CE credit must be published within the reporting period.
- College-level courses in financial planning count for the number of semester hours earned or the number of CFP® CEs earned.
What are the NAPFA Core and Elective subject areas?
The NAPFA subject areas (click here for definitions) include:
Subject codes for Core Areas:
- B - Insurance & Risk Management
- C - Investments
- D - Income Tax Planning
- E - Retirement Planning
- F - Estate Planning
- G - Ethics
- J - Communications
Subject codes of Elective Areas:
- A - Financial Planning Process
- H - Accounting, Cash Flow Mgmt. & Budgeting
- I - Economic and Political Environment
- K - Marketing and Practice Management
- L - Strategic Thinking
- M - Technology
How do I input my NAPFA CEs and view my CE Summary Report?
Credits are posted to your NAPFA online CE record in two ways:
- NAPFA uploads your credits earned from attending NAPFA events or educational programs.
- You must enter information for all other credits earned outside of NAPFA, listing courses individually.
To enter CEs, log into the website and visit the My Account page. Click on CE in the top menu bar. Here you can view and print reports on credits posted during any designated timeframe, as well as report CEs earned outside of NAPFA using the "Add CE Credits" button:
Enter each session individually and completely, with enough information to satisfy a CE audit (does the CE information you entered match what's on the documentation you'd submit at audit for proof of attendance?). You may split a multi-CE course among subject areas; enter the course multiple times, adding Part 1, Part 2, etc. to the title, and changing the subject area and number of CEs in each. To report:
- Reading CEs, list the publisher/publication in "Sponsored By" and the book/magazine title or author's name in "Program Name."
- Writing CEs, list the publisher/publication in "Sponsored By" and the book/article title in "Program Name."
- Teaching/presenting CEs, list the academic institution/host organization in "Sponsored By" and the course/presentation title in "Program Name."
- Pro bono service CEs, list the coordinating agency in "Sponsored By" and the type of service in "Program Name" (debt management, budget planning, mortgage or college savings plan evaluation, retirement checkup, etc.).
You can edit or delete a self-reported course at any time using the buttons next to the course in your online CE record.
Reports. At the top of the page, you will see the option to view/print three reports:
- Current Summary Report (your CE summary for the current cycle, including your specific Core Area requirements/progress in the first table). It may take 4-5 minutes for CEs you enter to tally in your Summary Report.
- CE Report (details all credits earned for a specific time period).
- CFP® Board Report (shows CFP® credits earned through NAPFA and reported for you to the CFP® Board by NAPFA). This report will not include any CFP® CEs that you have entered yourself.
Your CEs are complete when the entries in the right-hand column of the first table in your Summary Report all read “Pass,” and the entries in the right-hand column of the bottom table all say “Yes” or "N/A."
How do I obtain a Certificate of Completion for a NAPFA program?
Certificates of Completion for any courses you take through NAPFA may be downloaded/printed using the “Certificate” button next to the course in your online CE record. Any CFP® CE credits, NASBA CE credits or IRS Enrolled Agent (EA) credits offered through NAPFA sessions are noted on the Certificates. For more information on Certificates, call 888-FEE-ONLY, ext. 107, or email the NAPFA Membership Department at NAPFA-CEs@napfa.org.
What records do I need to maintain in case my CEs are audited by NAPFA?
At the end of each CE cycle, a percentage of the members are randomly selected to undergo an audit of their CEs. NAPFA recommends that you maintain a copy of all your CE materials for at least three years after the close of a two-year CE cycle in case you are chosen for audit. Those who are audited must submit documentation for each reported CE. Acceptable documentation includes:
For the 32 required Core Area courses: Certificates of attendance/completion or your CFP® CE report from the CFP® Board.
For the other 28 courses – any of the above, or:
- Receipts for registration fees, email registration confirmations, or participants’ agendas.
- Proof of passed quizzes, speakers’ confirmations, or copies of published articles.
- For pro bono service, confirmation of assignment, while maintaining client confidentiality.
What if I’m having difficulty completing my CEs?
CE extensions. Extensions are granted solely for extreme circumstances; acceptable reasons for an extension include the critical illness of the NAPFA member or his/her family member, fire or flood damage to the advisor's office, or other events that are catastrophic to the member or his/her business. Supporting documentation of such circumstances will be requested along with the completed extension request form.
Extension forms may be requested from Heidi Tennant beginning November 15, 2021 and must be submitted by December 15, 2021. If granted, NAPFA will give the member until February 15, 2022, to meet the CE requirements for the 2020-2021 CE cycle.
Failure to comply. Members not completing their CE requirements by the deadline will have their membership put on hold the week of January 1, 2022, for the CE deficiency, and consumer and media referrals will cease. This includes being removed from NAPFA’s Find-An-Advisor online consumer referral service. Consumers who call NAPFA after not locating these advisors on Find-An-Advisor as expected will be told that the member is currently not in good standing due to a CE deficiency.
Members who are still CE deficient by April 1, 2022 will have their membership role changed to NAPFA Associate and must relinquish all benefits and reference to being a NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor.
Members are then not eligible to return to NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor status until their 2023 renewal date and will carry the full 60-CE requirement regardless of when they re-join, with all of the first-cycle subject area requirements. Members not meeting audit requirements are subject to similar action.