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CPA vs CFP: Which Professional Is Right For You?

In the complex world of financial planning and tax management, the roles of Certified Financial Planners™ (CFP®s) and Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are often intertwined. But they’re not always clearly understood. This confusion (especially when it comes to tax planning) can lead to missed opportunities and suboptimal financial strategies. 

This post demystifies these two crucial professions. We’ll take you through what each role entails, the rigorous journey to becoming a CFP® or CPA, and how each can uniquely assist you. You’ll also learn how their collaboration can dramatically change your financial life. 

What Is A CFP®?

Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) is a distinct designation awarded to professionals who have met rigorous standards in personal financial planning. CFP®s possess a deep understanding of financial management, making them qualified to guide clients in achieving their financial goals. They’re not limited to a single role. CFP®s can function as financial planners, financial advisors, and investment managers.

Their knowledge covers a wide array of personal finance topics (e.g. personal finance, retirement, investing, tax. etc.). This breadth of expertise ensures that a CFP® can provide comprehensive advice tailored to individual client needs, aligning financial decisions with overarching life goals.

Certified Financial Planner™ Professionals (CFP®s) are also held to the industry’s highest fiduciary standards. This means they are legally and ethically obligated to act in their clients’ best interests. Acting as fiduciaries, CFP®s prioritize their clients’ financial aspirations and well-being above their own gain. Fiduciary responsibility ensures that a CFP® provides impartial advice with no conflicts of interest. 

Furthermore, many CFP®s (including all those here at Crafted Finance) operate on a fee-only basis. This means you won’t have to worry about being sold commission-based products. This principle distinguishes a lot of CFPs® from other financial advisors who may be incentivized to recommend products that offer them higher personal paydays, regardless of whether those products are the best fit for you. Instead, you’ll be charged a completely transparent fee for all services rendered. 

What Does It Take To Become A CFP®?

Becoming a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) is a detailed process, involving both a rigorous education and practical experience. It typically takes between 18 to 24 months to receive the highly-sought after certification.

The journey begins with an educational requirement. Candidates must complete a comprehensive course in financial planning, approved by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards™. This coursework lays a foundational understanding of various financial planning aspects. Those with relevant educational experience or credentials might bypass this requirement. However, all CFP®s are required to at least possess a bachelor’s degree.

Next is the CFP® exam, a crucial milestone. The exam, encompassing 170 multiple-choice questions, is designed to test a candidate’s comprehensive knowledge of financial planning. Exam takers have a total of six hours to complete the test and must pass before they can become certified. 

Equally important is the experience requirement. Aspiring CFPs® must also accumulate either 6,000 hours of professional financial planning experience or 4,000 hours of specialized apprenticeship. This hands-on experience is vital in translating theoretical knowledge into practical expertise.

Upholding ethical standards is paramount. As mentioned above, candidates must commit to acting in their clients’ best interests, a fiduciary responsibility. They must also pass a background check by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards™. This stringent process ensures that a CFP® is not just knowledgeable, but also ethically sound and practically skilled.

Please Note: CFP® professionals must complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain their certification. This includes 2 hours on CFP®  Board Ethics and 28 hours on key topics. Starting immediately after certification, this ongoing education ensures they stay sharp and up-to-date with industry standards and ethics, all to provide top-notch service to their clients.

How Do CFP®s Help People?

Certified Financial Planners™ (CFPs®) are essential in crafting holistic and personalized financial strategies for their individual clients. They meticulously evaluate various aspects of your financial life to create a plan that balances your immediate requirements with long-term ambitions. Their expertise spans several critical areas:

Financial Planning: CFPs® assess your financial situation, including income, expenses, debts, and assets. They develop a strategy that addresses your short-term needs and long-term goals, such as saving for your child’s education or establishing an emergency fund.

Retirement Planning: They assist you in planning for a financially secure retirement, considering factors like your desired retirement age, expected lifestyle, and potential retirement income sources. This includes advice on optimizing retirement accounts like IRAs and 401(k)s.

Investment Management: CFPs® guide you in building an investment portfolio that matches your risk appetite, investment timelines, and financial goals. This involves selecting a mix of stocks, bonds, and other investments to achieve a balanced and diversified portfolio.

Insurance Planning: They advise on the right type and amount of insurance coverage necessary to protect your financial well-being, including life, health, disability, property, liability, and long-term care insurance.

Tax Planning: CFPs® strategize to help you save on taxes throughout your lifetime, focusing on tax-efficient investments and smart timing of income and deductions.

Estate Planning: They help in efficiently managing and transferring your assets, navigating complex issues like wills, trusts, and estate taxes, ensuring a smooth transfer of your wealth while minimizing tax liabilities.

What Is A CPA?

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is an accounting professional that’s also recognized for their expertise and adherence to high standards. CPAs are qualified to handle a range of financial tasks, primarily in the areas of financial accounting and reporting, along with auditing and attestation. They typically work in various settings, including accounting firms, corporations, and as independent consultants.

Their role involves ensuring accurate and compliant financial reporting, which is crucial for businesses of all sizes. CPAs are adept at interpreting complex financial information, making them invaluable in strategic decision-making processes. 

In addition to financial reporting, they play a key role in auditing, providing an objective examination of financial statements to ensure accuracy and meeting of regulatory standards. The CPA designation represents a significant level of expertise and ethics, making them trusted allies in the financial world.

What Does It Take To Become A CPA?

To become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), one must undergo a comprehensive process that combines education, examination, and practical experience. This journey ensures that CPAs possess the proper knowledge base and skillset to thrive in the field of accounting.

The first step is educational. Aspiring CPAs need to complete a bachelor’s degree, typically in accounting or a similar discipline. However, the crucial requirement is achieving a total of 150 credit hours in higher education, which often means pursuing additional coursework or a master’s degree.

Following education, the pivotal step is passing the CPA Exam. This challenging exam, administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), is split into four sections. Candidates have 18 months after passing the initial portion to clear the remaining sections. This exam is designed to test a wide range of accounting knowledge and skills.

After passing the exam, obtaining the CPA license is the next milestone. This usually involves acquiring professional experience in the accounting field, often for a period of one year. However, the specific nature of the experience required can vary by state.

Finally, maintaining the CPA license is an ongoing commitment. CPAs are generally required to renew their licenses every one to two years, depending on the state. This process often includes completing a certain number of hours in continuing education, with some states mandating a focus on professional ethics. This thorough process ensures that CPAs are not only knowledgeable in accounting principles but are also up-to-date with the latest practices and ethical standards.

How Do CPAs Help People?

Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are invaluable to you, offering specialized financial guidance tailored to your individual and business needs. They provide a range of essential services to help you:

Tax Preparation and Filing: CPAs have the expertise to navigate tax laws on your behalf, identifying deductions and credits you may be eligible for. They ensure your filings are both accurate and compliant, potentially saving you significant amounts in taxes.

Auditing Services: With detailed audits, CPAs can verify the accuracy of your financial statements, ensuring they comply with regulations and instilling confidence among your stakeholders.

Business Advisory: If you’re looking for strategic business advice, CPAs are there to assist. They can assist in financial forecasting, budgeting, and optimizing tax advantages through restructuring your business.

Forensic Accounting: Specializing in financial investigations, CPAs play a crucial role in uncovering any financial discrepancies and fraud that may affect you.

Bookkeeping Services: CPAs also offer bookkeeping services, managing your day-to-day financial records. This is essential for accurate tracking of your expenses and revenues, crucial for effective financial management and strategic planning.

Please Note: At Crafted Finance, we understand the importance of having access to expert financial advice. If you’re seeking a CPA, we can recommend qualified professionals from our extensive network, ensuring you receive personalized, expert guidance for your specific financial needs.

Why CFP®s and CPAs Work Best Together

When it comes to tax planning, a partnership between a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) and a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) can be exceptionally powerful. Together, they create a dynamic duo, each bringing their specialized expertise to the table, ensuring a comprehensive approach to managing your finances and taxes.

A CFP® focuses on your long-term financial health. They excel in comprehensive financial planning, which includes strategizing to minimize your lifetime tax bill. This involves considering various aspects of your financial life – from investments and retirement plans to estate planning and more. A CFP® helps you make financial decisions that are not only beneficial today but also optimize your tax situation in the long run.

On the other hand, CPAs are the experts in annual tax preparation and filing. They possess a deep understanding of the tax code and stay updated with the latest changes. CPAs work to ensure you benefit from all applicable deductions and credits each year, reducing your immediate tax liabilities. They handle the complexities of actually paying Uncle Sam, ensuring accuracy and compliance with the IRS.

Together, a CFP® and a CPA can align your long-term financial strategies with your annual tax obligations, creating a harmonious personal (and business) financial plan. This partnership ensures that you’re not only saving on taxes year by year but also making financial decisions that reduce your overall tax burden over time.

Let Crafted Finance Help You Take The Next Step With Your Financial Planning 

At Crafted Finance, we understand the intricacies of financial planning and the critical roles both Certified Financial Planners™ (CFP®) and Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) play in your financial journey. Our team of CFP® advisors is dedicated to helping you create a comprehensive financial plan, considering every aspect of your financial life.

Our CFP® advisors specialize in long-term financial health, focusing on strategies to minimize your lifetime tax bill. They delve into your investments, retirement plans, and other financial areas to ensure choices made today benefit you in the long run. Their comprehensive approach is designed to optimize your overall financial situation, aligning with your life goals and financial aspirations.

We also recognize the importance of expert guidance in annual tax preparation and filing. If you already have a CPA, our CFP® advisors are equipped to collaborate with them, ensuring a cohesive approach to your financial planning and tax strategies. If you don’t have a CPA, we can connect you with a trusted professional from our network. 

Whether you’re seeking to navigate complex financial decisions or to optimize your financial future, the synergy between a CFP® and a CPA offers a robust solution. We invite you to take the next step with us and experience the comprehensive, expert-driven financial planning you deserve.

Investment Advisory Services are offered through Crafted Finance, LLC, a registered investment adviser. Please remember that securities cannot be purchased, sold or traded via e-mail or voice message system. This advertisement and any documents, files or previous advertisements may contain information that is confidential or legally privileged.  If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that you must not read this transmission and that any disclosure, copying, printing, distribution, or any action or omission of this transmission is strictly prohibited.  If you have received this advertisement in error, please immediately notify the sender by telephone at (650) 336-0598 or return and delete the original advertisements and its attachments without reading or saving in any manner.

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Investment Advisory Services are offered through Crafted Finance, LLC, a registered investment adviser. Please remember that securities cannot be purchased, sold or traded via e-mail or voice message system. This advertisement and any documents, files or previous advertisements may contain information that is confidential or legally privileged.  If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that you must not read this transmission and that any disclosure, copying, printing, distribution, or any action or omission of this transmission is strictly prohibited.  If you have received this advertisement in error, please immediately notify the sender by telephone at (650) 336-0598 or return and delete the original advertisements and its attachments without reading or saving in any manner.

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CFA vs. CFP: Which Professional Is Right For You?

Kristin Harad

Marketing Coach

Step right up and meet Kristin Harad, the Marketing Coach wizard! Guiding businesses through the intricate maze of marketing, Kristin combines her smarts, pizzazz, and a hefty portfolio of wins to show she’s the real deal. Ever wonder what makes a brand pop and a strategy rock? Kristin’s your answer, lighting up the marketing world and turning potential into prowess.

Boasting three decades in the marketing arena, Kristin’s more than just a seasoned pro – she’s a beacon. Whether she’s spotting the next big trend or identifying a golden opportunity, she’s always got her finger on the pulse. And the cherry on top? Her rock-solid commitment to catapulting her clients right to the top of the business game. Dive into the marketing world with Kristin, and watch magic happen!

Jon Fogg

Content Creator

Jon Fogg is a dynamic and innovative content creator who has been making waves in the digital realm. With a passion for creativity and a flair for storytelling, Jon has captivated the financial world through his engaging and diverse content.

When he’s is not working on an SEO blog or case study, you’ll find him enjoying local art galleries or a phenomenal read. Friends and colleagues often commend him for his clear enthusiasm and dedication, which is evident in every project he undertakes. 

Kingston Hollman MBA


Meet Kingston Hollman, the compliance guru everyone’s been talking about. With a sharp mind for regulatory ins and outs, Kingston is all about keeping businesses on the straight and narrow. That’s why he’s a go-to in the compliance world!

Sporting an MBA under his belt, Kingston’s not just about book smarts. He knows the fine dance between business strategy and staying in line with the rules. And guess what? He’s mastered it. Ensuring companies sail smoothly through the often-stormy waters of compliance is his game.

From the get-go, Kingston’s been crafting top-tier compliance programs, tailored just right for all sorts of industries. It’s his eye for detail and that knack for spotting the little things that make him stand out. He doesn’t just set up a system; he fosters a whole vibe of staying compliant, making sure everyone’s on board.

Jessica Martineau

Client Operations Manager

Jessica is a seasoned professional with a diverse background, bringing a decade of expertise across multiple industries. A proud graduate of SPU, her journey in the professional world is marked by significant accomplishments.

With nearly eight years dedicated to managing projects in the graphics and built environment sectors, Jessica has honed her skills as a meticulous Project Manager. This tenure has instilled in her a knack for thriving within organized structures while fostering robust client relationships, a hallmark of her professional ethos.

Her experience in the Finance industry spans almost a decade, where she has held pivotal roles as Lead Client Operations Manager and Director of Operations. Notably, her FINRA SIE Certification stands as a testament to her commitment to excellence.

Jessica’s strengths lie in cultivating enduring client connections, fueled by her passion for delivering thorough solutions. She finds joy in understanding and engaging with her colleagues, nurturing a cohesive work culture.

As a Pacific Northwest native, Jessica enjoys hiking, camping, and skiing. She loves reading, attending live music, plays, and comedy shows. Always a foodie, she delights in discovering new restaurants and revisiting old favorites, especially if there is a water view.

Most importantly, Jessica’s world revolves around her family—her amazing husband, Lee, and their two great kids. They are her inspiration and the anchor to her life outside of work.

Dionne Kelly

Executive Assistant

Let’s dive into the world of Dionne Kelly! Born in St. Kitts and with her roots deep in Barbados, Dionne’s been globe-trotting from her island homes to Canada, the USA, and Belize. Got a love for tropical spots? So does Dionne. Her passport’s got stamps that tell tales of sun, sea, and a bunch of awesome adventures.

Now, when it comes to her profession, Dionne’s the real deal. Over 20 years in the game as an Executive Assistant, she’s been the secret ingredient for bigwig C-suite execs. Think of a challenge, and Dionne’s likely tackled it head-on with her unbeatable organizational skills and eagle eye for detail. 

Oh, and did we mention she’s a foodie? Dionne’s taste buds have danced across diverse culinary landscapes, adding a sprinkle of global flavor to her persona. In the world of executive support, she’s a powerhouse, always two steps ahead and ready to make things happen. 

Joe Wride CFP®

Founder & CEO

Meet Joe Wride, the president and founder of Crafted Finance. With a knack for pension and investment management, insurance, and financial planning, Joe’s all about offering top-notch services without breaking the bank. That’s why he started Crafted Finance!

A proud Finance major from Washington State University, Joe’s got the credentials to back it up as a Chartered Life Underwriter and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional. Since 2009, he’s been helping individuals, families, and pension plans make sense of their finances. Joe’s even on the board of the Financial Planning Association’s Puget Sound chapter. Check out his LinkedIn profile here.

Joe gets that everyone’s got their own money story. That’s why he’s crafted a unique process to help folks of all stripes manage their finances, whether they’re flying solo, raising a family, or running a company. He’s all about learning and growing to make sure his guidance is just the right fit for his clients.

When he’s not crunching numbers, you’ll find Joe enjoying the Seattle life. He’s into skateboarding at Alki beach, biking, golfing, snowboarding, hiking, and camping. Sports fan? You bet! Joe’s a die-hard supporter of the Cougars, Mariners, Seahawks, and Sonics. But what really matters to him is family time with his wife Jessica, daughter Ocean, and dog Kanga. Joe’s excited to welcome more kiddos into their home through foster care and adoption in the future.

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