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As of April 1, a post-secondary degree became a prerequisite to become a certified financial planner (CFP). On Friday, FP Canada introduced new exemptions to the requirement under certain circumstances.

An exemption now applies to those who have held qualified associate financial planner (QAFP) certification for at least five years and are in good standing.

Alternatively, an exemption applies to those with more than 10 years of qualifying work experience. (Qualifying work experience is based on financial planning–related work, per FP Canada’s certification policies.)

An example of such a candidate would be an experienced advisor registered with the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada who decides to pursue financial planning, an FP Canada spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

“The change to the education requirements for CFP certification reflects the relevant professional skills needed for a career in financial planning, which this type of candidate has developed over the course of their career,” the statement said.

Jason Watt, CEO of Business Career College in Edmonton and a full-time instructor, said the change was positive.

“It’s great news,” Watt said in an emailed statement, noting the educational challenges faced by some Canadians living in smaller communities without universities.

Watt also referenced FP Canada’s IMAGINE 2030 plan, which envisions greater access to financial planning services that support diverse needs.

That plan has a “strong emphasis on DEI [diversity, equity and inclusion] in both the financial planning community and among recipients of financial planning advice,” Watt wrote. “With the degree requirement, there are some DEI groups who are going to be left out … and this [the degree exemptions] at least gives them a chance.”

FP Canada will also recognize the relevant international work experience of those seeking CFP or QAFP certification, reflecting legislative updates.

“Candidates may now apply for certification irrespective of where their work experience was obtained, so long as it meets the definition of qualifying work experience,” the FP Canada release said.

The changes announced Friday are part of FP Canada’s efforts to minimize barriers to certification and increase diversity in the profession, it said.

“The financial planning profession is constantly evolving, and certification requirements must evolve with it,” said Tashia Batstone, president and CEO of FP Canada, in the release. “The changes we’ve made will provide a smoother path for financial planners who have already clearly demonstrated their knowledge and skills — whether they’ve done so here or abroad.”