Cropped shot of unrecognizable businesspeople sitting and writing notes in a book while in the office during the day

The number of candidates writing the exam for FP Canada’s qualified associate financial planner (QAFP) credential were down in October, as well as in May, the previous exam sitting. The two exams were the first for QAFP certification since FP Canada introduced a post-secondary prerequisite.

The October QAFP exam had 69 writers, and the May exam had 186. In comparison, February’s sitting had 384 exam writers, and 2021’s sittings had relatively strong numbers as well.

On April 1, 2022, a two-year post-secondary diploma became a prerequisite for the QAFP, and a bachelor’s degree became a prerequisite for certified financial planner (CFP) certification. (The QAFP is a path to the CFP.)

A couple of exemptions aim to prevent the post-secondary prerequisites from being a significant barrier to entry. An exemption may apply to those with more than 10 years of qualifying work experience, and to those who’ve had the QAFP for at least five years and are in good standing.

In an emailed statement, FP Canada said the number of exam writers varies each sitting for a number of reasons, and February’s higher turnout was partly because of the new post-secondary requirement. “[S]ome candidates who were eligible may have wanted to write the exam before the changes took effect,” the statement said.

The certification body said it generally continues to see demand for the QAFP since its launch in 2020.

“Many industry firms have introduced requirements for client-facing staff members to earn a professional designation,” the statement said. FP Canada added that title protection supports demand.

In Ontario, title protection came into effect this year for use of “financial planner” as well as “financial advisor.” To use the former title, an approved credential, such as the QAFP or CFP, is required.

The next QAFP exam is on Feb. 1.