Skip to content

About the Financial Planning Body of Knowledge

Version 1.2.0, Updated 20180724

The Financial Planning Body of Knowledge (FP-BoK)—the first of its kind internationally—builds on the Canadian Financial Planning Definitions, Standards & Competencies to define the scope and holistic nature of financial planning.

The FP-BoK clearly distinguishes the knowledge expectations of CFP professionals and FPSC Level 1 certificants in all financial planning areas.

The FP-BoK provides the underpinning for the FPSC Competency Profile—it is essential to the demonstration of competence in the fundamental financial planning practices, financial planning areas, and professional skills.


The FP-BoK is intended to serve as a resource to a number of groups. Examples of potential uses include:


Educators of future financial planning professionals

To develop and deliver educational content that prepares the next generation of financial planners

Students contemplating entering the profession or currently on the path to FPSC certification

To understand the distinct nature of financial planning, as defined by the expectations of CFP professionals and FPSC Level 1 certificants, when compared to other disciplines

Industry firms recruiting financial planning professionals

To define the expectations of CFP professionals and FPSC Level 1 certificants in meeting the broad, holistic financial planning needs of clients

Practicing CFP professionals and FPSC Level 1 certificants

To assist in maintaining currency of knowledge and employer expectation


Development Process

The FP-BoK was developed by over 80 practicing CFP professionals from across Canada and a variety of subject matter specialists in the various topic areas. As practitioners and experts in the technical knowledge topics, the volunteers developed technical knowledge statements and illustrative case studies that reflect the level of knowledge required for effective financial planning practice.

The rigorous review process involved input by the following key groups to ensure its relevance, clarity, comprehensiveness and currency:

  • CFP professionals with in-depth experience providing financial planning advice to small business owners reviewed each topic area to help ensure the inclusion of appropriate technical knowledge.
  • Educators provided feedback on the depth, breadth and clarity of the FP-BoK and practicality of the case studies for teaching purposes. 
  • A Professional Practice Working Group of CFP professionals and educators provided oversight and approval of the FP-BoK through extensive review of the technical knowledge statements and case studies.

The FP-BoK will change as the financial planning profession evolves. It will be reviewed on a periodic basis by an independent Standards Panel made up of financial planners and public members and will be updated as appropriate.

FPSC sincerely thanks the many pioneers who contributed to this initial publication.

Knowledge Expectations

While both CFP professionals and FPSC Level 1 certificants draw from the same Body of Knowledge, the knowledge expectations of CFP professionals are broader, given that they must provide objective financial planing advice at the highest level of complexity required of the profession. Specfically, CFP professionals are expected to have greater depth of knowledge in areas including registered retirement plans, registered education and disability plans, taxation, insurance, and estate planning and legal aspects.

It is the complexity of the client situation that influences the depth of technical knowledge required for each designation. Since CFP professionals are expected to capably provide financial planning advice at higher levels of complexity, they require knowledge that goes above and beyond the expectations of FPSC Level 1 certificants.

The FP-BoK sets the minimum expectation for the level of knowledge required of CFP professionals and FPSC Level 1 certificants, but it is not intended to limit the scope of practice of any individual. CFP professionals and FPSC Level 1 certificants may possess greater levels of knowledge based on their backgrounds and experience.

As set out in the FPSC® Code of Ethics, financial planning professionals must seek the counsel of qualified individuals and/or refer clients to such parties when they do not possess the appropriate knowledge or are not sufficiently competent in any particular area or scenario. 

The following chart provides an overview of the areas where CFP professionals are expected to have a greater depth of knowledge:

Financial Planning Profession and Financial Services Industry Regulation
Financial Planning Profession X  
Securities and Mutual Fund Regulation X  
Insurance Regulation X  
Financial Services Industry Oversight X  
Consumer Protection X  
Financial Analysis
Time Value of Money X
Personal Financial Statements X  
Financial Statements for an Organization X  
Credit and Debt
Foundations of Credit X
Types of Credit X  
Terms of Credit X  
Installment Credit Facilities X  
Revolving Credit Facilities X  
Business Credit Facilities X  
Credit Adjudication X  
Debt Repayment X  
Delinquency X  
Insolvency X  
Registered Retirement Plans
Foundations of Retirement X
Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP) X  
Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) X  
Foundations of Pension Plans X  
Defined Benefit (DB) Pension Plans X  
Defined Contribution (DC) Pension Plans X  
Pension Buyback and Commutation    X
Pooled Registered Pension Plans (PRPP)  X  
Deferred Profit Sharing Plans (DPSP)  X  
Specified Pension Plan (SPP)  X  
Locked-In Retirement Savings Vehicles X  
Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) X  
Locked-In Retirement Income Vehicles X  
Annuities X  
Eligible Funeral Arrangements (EFA) X  
Options upon the Death of Parties to Registered Retirement Plans   X
Registered Retirement Plans for Owners and Key Employees of a Business   X
Government Benefit Plans 
Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Retirement Pension X  
Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Post-Retirement Benefits X  
Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Survivor Benefits X  
Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Disability Benefits X  
Old Age Security (OAS) Pension X  
Old Age Security (OAS) Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) X  
Old Age Security (OAS) Allowance (ALW) and Survivor Allowance (ALWS) X  
 Canada Child Benefit (CCB) X  
Child Disability Benefit (CDB) X  
Employment Insurance (EI) Regular Benefits X  
Employment Insurance (EI) Sickness Benefits X  
Employment Insurance (EI) Maternity and Parental Benefits X  
Employment Insurance (EI) Compassionate Care Benefits X  
Employment Insurance (EI) Benefits for Parents of Critically Ill Children X  
Employment Insurance (EI) Special Benefits for Self-Employed Individuals   X
Workers' Compensation Programs X  
Income Assistance Programs X  
Foreign Pensions X  
Registered Education and Disability Plans
Foundations of Education X  
Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) X  
Foundations of Disabilities X  
Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) X  
Options upon the Death of Parties to Registered Education and Disability Plans   X
Microeconomics  X  
Macroeconomics  X  
Foundations of Investments X  
Investment Marketplace X  
Investment Objectives and Constraints X  
Investment Return and Risk X  
Asset Classes X  
Asset Allocation X  
Investment Structures X  
Investment Styles X  
Investment Accounts X  
Investment Buying and Selling Techniques X  
Leveraged Investing X  
Foundations of Tax X  
Relationships under Income Tax X  
Income Tax Assessment Rules for Individuals X  
Income Tax Assessment Rules for Corporations    X
Income Tax Assessment Rules for Trusts
Basic Income for Tax Purposes X  
Other Income for Tax Purposes   X
Income Received by Self-Employed Business Owners   X
Tax Deductions and Tax Credits for Individuals X  
Tax Deductions for Self-Employed Business Owners X  
Income Attribution X  
Foundations of Income Splitting for Individuals X  
Income Splitting for Investors   X
Income Splitting for Self-Employed Business Owners   X
Tax Shelters   X
United States Taxation   X
Tax Consequences at Death   X
Trusts   X
Estate Freezes   X
Taxation of Business Ownership Structures   X
Foundations of Law  X  
Personal Property Ownership  X  
Foundations of Family Law X  
Impacts of Relationship Breakdown
Foundations of Estate Law X  
Estate Succession   X
Powers of Attorney X  
Trust Law   X
Foundations of Business Ownership Structures X  
Business Ownership Structures   X
Contracts   X
Foundations of Risk and Insurance X  
Property and Casualty Insurance X  
Health Care Insurance X  
Disability Insurance X  
Critical Illness Insurance   X
Long-Term Care Insurance   X
Foundations of Life Insurance X  
Advanced Uses of Life Insurance   X
Creditor Insurance  X  
Insurance for Corporations   X
Taxation of Insurance   X
Human Behaviour
Decision-Making and Behaviour X  
Relationships X