FPWM® vs. CFP® Why You Badly Need Both!

Many people underrate the value of having the ability to help people manage and grow their wealth. The financial management industry controls over $103 trillion of the world’s assets.

If you’re one of the few who just realized the industry’s potential, you might want to take steps to become a wealth management professional.

There are a lot of certification programs available. After earning a certificate, you can start looking for jobs or internships in the Wealth Management industry. One of the most popular programs has to be the Corporate Finance Institute’s Financial Planning & Wealth Management Professional (FPWM)™.

I recently enrolled in the certification program and recorded my entire experience. Was it good or bad?

Find out in the rest of this FPWM CFI review. I’ll do my best to make it as unbiased as possible.

Let’s get started!

Why I Took the FPWM® CFI Course

The CFP® certification is the hallowed golden standard not just in the Financial Planning space, but in Private Banking and Wealth Management spaces as well. I do aim to obtain mine, sometime in March 2026, but until then, I need to have a reliable, high-quality, and authoritative Financial Planning and Wealth Management certification in the meantime, like CFI’s FPWM®.

Such an “interim” certification like the FPWM® has enabled me to be a better financial service professional within a short space of time. Don’t get me wrong, I spent about 3-4 hours every weekday on top of work, and 24 hours from each of my weekends, for about 4 weeks to obtain this certification. So buckle up when you decide to commit the finances to purchase the subscription for this certification.

As a Wealth Management professional specialising in the Financial Planning expats and nomads, I needed something more than just background and experiential knowledge, as well as something I can complete within a relatively short time. Late last year I then found CFI’s FPWM® certification to meet amply this picky academic need of mine.

There are three main reasons I chose to do CFI’s FPWM®:

  1. I needed something high-quality for the short-term

In order to obtain a CFP® certification, you need to first complete either a Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Planning or like in the US go through a Postgraduate Learning Pathway optimised toward the CFP® examination.

This is incredibly time-consuming, especially on a work-and-study kind of balance. CFI’s courses aren’t easy or a walk in the park but are appropriately difficult enough to see you FPWM® certified in a few months. If, like me, you’ve got an extensive enough background in Financial Planning and Wealth Management, it could take a little quicker than a few months.

  1. I needed something that was affordable for now

Paying for a Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Planning or some kind of Learning Pathway to the CFP® exam was too costly at the time. I needed to build my book of clients a bit deeper, earn a bit more commission revenue, and pay off certain burdensome start-up business liabilities before I could free up hefty sums of cash to continue studying at a Postgraduate level at New York University.

  1. I needed my brain to fire up from years of being out of college

After a while of being out of college, my brain started to cabbage. Like wet cabbage. So doing online courses was a great way to get back into the mental exertion of things. Studying with CFI helped me get into a rhythm with the academic content of Financial Planning, which is really helping as I am currently pursuing my Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Planning.


All in all, it’s good for you to pursue the FPWM® program, as it does offer certain educational information in modules such as Private Banking, Effective Communication Skills for Financial Advisors, and you’ll have access to their platform with lots of in-depth courses on different asset classes. Conventional wisdom is that as a financial professional, you need to have a general understanding of all asset types, but must specialise in just one.

Personally, I’m pursuing a specialisation in Fixed Income assets, and that is what I look forward to being able to advise my clients on and to help my partnering Portfolio Managers in the asset allocation process pick the best corporate and government bonds for example, which meet a client’s overall risk profile. CFI’s courses such as Fixed Income Fundamentals, Advanced Fixed Income, and Applied Fixed Income are ones that I wouldn’t have access to anywhere else, yet anyway.

Even if you’re already a CFP® professional, you may need to deepen your knowledge in a particular asset class such as equities, derivatives, or bonds. You are not likely to find as deep and streamlined an education package in the investment management space, as CFI’s online learning platform.

Whatever you choose, I most sincerely wish you the very best in whatever you decide to endeavour.

So, I did some research and came across CFI’s FPWM® program. It checked most of my boxes:

  • Industry-recognized certificate
  • Reasonable time commitment
  • Affordable
  • Curated by industry professionals
  • Provides beginner to advanced level content
  • Valuable practical industry insights that the CFP certification doesn’t have

I decided to take this course and tell other people who are thinking about the FPWM® about what I learned.

Below is an overview of the program and a summary of my review. Use it to make a quick decision if you don’t have the time to read the entire post (which I strongly recommend that you do).

Summary and Overview

The Corporate Financial Institute, or CFI, is a platform that helps professionals in the banking and finance sectors develop relevant skills.

Created in 2016, CFI happens to be one of the fastest-growing companies in the financial learning industry. They offer several certifications and courses (both free and paid).

The FPWM has been one of their most popular certification programs since it came out in December 2022.

It was specifically created to help students develop wealth management skills and earn a recognized certification. The program offers the skill sets needed to manage money for individuals and business organizations.

The curriculum covers key areas of wealth management, such as:

  • Financial planning
  • Investment management
  • Practice management
  • Relationship management
  • Business development

Experts in the WM industry are in charge of teaching each lesson. There are 22 courses in total, but only 11 of them are required for certification.

Below is a table that summarizes the entire course.

Parameters Details
Core fields Financial planning
Wealth and investment management
Pricing (Annual) $497 – $847
Duration 61 hours
Best for Investment Advisor
Financial Planner
Private Banker
Portfolio Manager
Key features Self-paced
Video lessons
Downloadable materials
Certificate of completion
Premium support
Work experience Not required
Prior degrees Not required
Exams Online (anywhere, anytime)
Pros Quality lessons
Specialized learning
Recognized certificate
Useful research tools
Unlimited exam retakes
Cons Limited one-on-one tutor interaction
No PayPal
Discount code Available

Review of CFI’s FPWM Course Content

The entire course content is divided into four major parts. They are:

  1. 7 prep courses
  2. 7 core courses
  3. 8 elective courses
  4. Certification exam and award

A course could include a mix of video lessons, downloadable files (PDF, Excel, etc.), and online exercises. There were times when I found courses with only video lessons. There were also courses without any exercises or downloadable material.

Next, we’ll take a look at each of these sections and their respective courses. I took all 22 of them.

Prep Courses

These programs were designed to help you get ready to take the main courses. They have a lot of information to get you started and some review material to help you remember. All seven of the prep courses are optional, and you can skip them if you want.

  1. Careers in Financial Planning and Wealth Management

This course is self-paced and online. It helps students understand the different career paths for wealth management professionals, including their roles and compensation.

  1. Banking Products and Services

This one took me the longest time to finish among the seven prep courses. It will help you get familiar with banking tools and terminologies. The course covers both personal and business banking products.

  1. Applied Math Practice for Financial Advisors

Financial analysts tend to do a lot of mathematics. Hence, this course covers the techniques and formulas you would need to calculate figures like interest and annuities.

  1. Assessing Drivers of Business Growth

For me, this was a little more complex than the previous courses. It introduced concepts surrounding company life cycles, corporate growth, and external economic analysis.

  1. Reading Financial Statements

Here, I learned how to read and analyze common financial statements. These were the balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement.

  1. Excel Fundamentals – Formulas for Finance

Although there are dozens of advanced database management systems out there, the Excel sheet is still relevant in the WM industry. This is a good three-and-a-half-hour crash course on using Excel and its functions.

  1. Accounting Fundamentals

This course covered ways to read, prepare, and update different types of financial statements.

Core Courses

These courses have some of the most important information you need to know as a financial analyst and advisor. All seven of them are required to earn the FPWM certificate.

  1. Financial Planning Principles

The lessons teach the benefits and steps of financial planning. You’ll learn how to provide value to your clients by showing them the ideal path to their goals.

  1. Asset Classes and Financial Markets

Here, you can learn about financial markets and the assets they contain. The course helps you understand securities, bonds, cash, etc.

  1. Portfolio Management for Retail Clients

This course will teach you how to work as a portfolio manager for individuals and small groups.

  1. Economics for Financial Advisors

The lessons explain how consumer choices, interest rates, and business cycle stages affect economies.

  1. Risk Management and Insurance Planning

This will teach you how to perform a risk assessment on client investments. You’ll also learn what insurance products to recommend.

  1. Effective Communication for Client-Facing Advisors

Here, you’ll learn the people skills you need to handle certain situations and keep good business relationships with your clients.

  1. Behavioral Finance

You cannot rule out human emotions when talking about finance. This section is all about finding, understanding, and working around certain biases when it comes to investments.

Elective Courses

I found these to be the toughest set of courses in the entire program. However, the prior knowledge I gained during the prep and core lessons was more than enough to get me through.

You only have to pick at least four of the eight electives to get your certification.

  1. Fixed Income Fundamentals

This course centres around bonds. You can learn their concepts, major investors, risks, and prices.

  1. Equity Markets Fundamentals

It contains lessons about types of equity and funds. You’ll also learn key facts about stock exchanges and market valuation.

  1. Derivatives Fundamentals

Learn the major components of derivative contracts. There are up to six exercises in this course to help with the learning process.

  1. Spot Foreign Exchange

This is an introductory guide to the foreign exchange market. You’ll learn currency conventions, trade mechanics, and more.

  1. Commodities Fundamentals

Here, you can learn everything you need to know about the key commodity categories and some trading strategies.

  1. Understanding Options

Finance options may be a complex topic, but it’s important for analysts and advisors. This course covers the various terms and concepts in about two hours.

  1. Business Writing Fundamentals

The ability to convey your ideas in a clear and concise manner is valuable. This course helps you hone your business writing skills.

  1. Private Banking

This course takes a deep dive into the practices of private banks. You’ll learn how they work, their goals, responsibilities, and credit solutions.

Certification Award

Each of the courses in the three categories above (optional, core, and elective) has a qualified assessment. This is the exam you need to pass to successfully complete the course. The pass mark for each of the assessments is 80%.

If you pass all 11 required courses (7 core and 4 electives), you can claim your certificate. I got mine in digital form, although I had the option to order a physical certificate. If you choose that option, CFI will send it to your address via mail.

What I Liked About the FPWM CFI Course

Quality Self-Paced Lessons

I enjoyed the ability to study in my own time. There’s nothing wrong with fixed-date live courses. However, having on-demand content is better for some people, and I’m one of them.

In terms of quality, I’ll split my take into three portions:

  1. The instructor qualifications
  2. The video and audio quality
  3. The content quality

Here’s what I think about the instructors:

The FPWM CFI certification program has three major instructors. All of them have major experience in the financial and wealth management fields. The director of the program is also an expert at creating practical content. I could see her skills reflected in how the video lessons are structured.

Next, my thoughts on the video, audio, and text quality:

You need internet access to watch the video lessons. There is no option to download them. I have no problem with that. The videos had good quality, with clear and crisp pictures. They were fairly HD, maxing out at 1080p. This is not the best I’ve ever seen, but it is good enough.

I loved the quality of the audio that supported the visuals. It was clear and loud. I didn’t have to use my devices at max volume to learn from what the instructors were saying.

Now for my thoughts on the content quality:

Financial planning and wealth management are broad fields with some tough concepts. I liked how CFI did their best to cover the fundamentals and the more advanced topics in the field.

I did my best to verify some of the information I learned in the course. 100% of what I verified was factual. It’s safe to say the course creators know what they’re doing.

I also noticed that the course used a lot of illustrations to make even the most complex topics more engaging. You will find these graphics in all of the materials, including videos and downloaded PDF files.

Affordable Pricing

The CFI FPWM program offers plans for individuals and teams. I’ll be focusing on the pricing for individuals, as that is what I used. Also, note that all of the prices I mention here were valid at the time of my enrollment.

Choosing a CFI plan will give you access to all of their programs, including those with certifications. This was one of my favorite parts. You can earn as many certifications as you want without having to pay a separate fee for each if you dedicate the time and energy.

There are two main plans on the website:

  1. Self-Study

This is basically all you need to get access to the CFI course programs, their downloadable materials, and certifications. There are over 150 courses to explore. The plan costs $497 for a year.

  1. Full-Immersion

This plan offers you the same perks as the Self-Study package. But it also gives you access to things like Macabus, PitchBook, and Capital IQ that can help you work and do research. You also get assigned someone who will review your resume and cover letter for free. The plan costs $847 for a year.

I believe that whichever of the two pricing packages you choose will offer you good value for your money.

Great for Specialization

There are several good career options for FPWM certificate holders. Some of them are:

  • Investment Advisor
  • Financial Planner
  • Private Banker
  • Portfolio Manager

The course allows for some specialization thanks to the 8 elective courses and 7 optional courses available.

For instance, if you want to specialize in private banking, you should definitely take the “Private Banking” elective course. I also recommend that you take the optional “Banking Products and Services” course.

There are several other specialized career paths you can take and courses that will help you. The best thing to do is take your time to review each course’s overview before deciding on what electives to take.

Valuable Certificate

Like I did, you may find yourself questioning whether earning a CFI certificate is worth it. I also had my doubts, so I did some research before paying any money to enroll.

From what I discovered, there are three reasons why I believe a FPWM CFI certificate has reasonable value in the job market.

  1. Accredited courses

All of the courses in the FPWM program are accredited by several reputable institutions in the US, Canada, Oceania, and several European countries.

Some of the most notable of these institutions are:

  • CPA Canada
  • Chartered Insurance Institute (CII)
  • Australian Financial Markets Association (AFMA)
  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
  • National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA)

You can also earn CPE credits for all the courses in the program. In the FPWM program, the CPE credits for each course range from 1 to 4. In total, there are 47 CPE credits up for grabs in this certification program.

  1. Proven testimonials

The CFI website has lots of testimonials from former students. Many of them have lucrative roles in big companies. The testimonials come with links to LinkedIn posts from the students. You can easily verify their posts and positions if you want.

The key takeaway for me here was that if these people could land good jobs with the FPWM, so could I.

  1. Verifiable certification

Another good point is that your employers can easily verify the validity of your certificate. All it takes is a phone call.

One of the reasons some employers don’t recognize certificates is that they have no way to verify their validity. Thankfully, CFI prevents that problem.

Option to Get Useful Tools

When I talked about CFI’s pricing, I mentioned the Full-Immersion package. This comes with several tools to boost research and productivity.

After getting your FPWM certificate, you may want to continue doing more research in the field. You may also decide to work on some projects to gain experience. That’s where such tools will be most viable.

I loved how you don’t have to pay for the add-on tools unless you want to. The value you get is worth the extra $200. I think more programs should adopt CFI’s strategy.

What I Disliked

Limited Tutor-Student Interaction

Some students learn better when they have the opportunity to ask questions and get responses from their tutors. I happen to be one of those kinds of students.

Even though the FPWM program is self-paced, asking questions comes with some benefits. They include the following:

  • You get to be an active learner, thereby improving your critical thinking.
  • The course content becomes more interesting and engaging.
  • You can clear any doubts you might have about the concepts.
  • Asking questions makes it easier to remember details about the course.
  • Your confidence might get a little boost from the interaction.

So, I was a little disappointed when I found out that a Self-Study plan doesn’t give you the option to speak directly with tutors about the course. The best you can get is technical email support.

However, the Full-Immersion plan does give you access to some industry experts. That was my main reason for choosing the upgraded package. You can send up to five questions per week, complete with details such as video time stamps and images.

I got a fast and helpful response email anytime I asked a question to them.

So, while CFI does offer some tutor interaction, you have to pay more money to unlock this feature.

No PayPal

Not many people might share my sentiments about this, but I promised you an honest review. Hence, I have to mention the lack of a PayPal payment method as part of what I disliked about the CFI program.

I do a lot of online transactions, and paying with PayPal has always been my most convenient method. With a simple login and enough money in your PayPal balance, you can pay quickly and easily. I don’t have to type in my details each time I make a payment. Also, the service offers top-tier encryption, so I know my details are protected.

Nevertheless, CFI accepts credit and debit cards. Paying with them is easy once you add the details the first time.

Final Verdict

The FPWM CFI program is a great way to get into wealth management. There were a lot of features I liked about the program. The only issues I had with it had more to do with my personal preferences than anything else.

For me, it was worth every penny. I strongly recommend you try the course. You may start with some of the available free courses related to wealth management.

Author – Claude Machihi I am a British-Zimbabwean Financial Entrepreneur and Freelancer. I run my own Financial Planning and Wealth Management practice, Diversitas Wealth®, hence my strong motivation of doing the CFI’s FPWM®. I’ve worked in the Finance Sector for over 5 years, and do freelance gigs teaching Business English, Voice Acting, Screenwriting, Content Writing, and in Business Analysis. – My Linkedin

Frequently Asked Questions

Is CFI certificate worth it?

Getting a CFI certificate is worth your money and time. You can tell because all of the courses in the certification program have received top-tier international accreditation. Also, testimonials show that people who have the certificate have found good jobs with different companies. The lessons in the program are clear and engaging. They will help prepare you for a career in finance.

Is CFI well recognized?

The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and several  CPA institutions in Canada recognize the CFI. It is a reputable continuing education service.

Is CFI exam hard?

The CFI exam shouldn’t be too difficult if you study the lessons well enough. It is a combination of the assessments at the end of each course. Hence, you don’t have to learn from a wide range of topics for each exam. Also, you’re allowed an unlimited number of retakes. Even if you don’t do well the first few times, you can always study harder and try again.

claude machiha

I am a British-Zimbabwean Financial Entrepreneur and Freelancer. I run my own Financial Planning and Wealth Management practice, Diversitas Wealth®, hence my strong motivation of doing the CFI’s FPWM®. I’ve worked in the Finance Sector for over 5 years, and do freelance gigs teaching Business English, Voice Acting, Screenwriting, Content Writing, and in Business Analysis. Linkedin

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