To be honest, when I decided to take up the Certified Financial Planner(CFP) course earlier on, I did not consider comparing it with other courses in the country because I trusted the friend who introduced it to me and since then, I never looked back and never regretted taking up the CFP course.

If you are new in the financial planner certification in Malaysia and got confused with which, how, or what? Allow me to share with you my perspective and hopefully, I can do justice to both of the courses as well which will be based on my understanding and information gathered from the respective website. Since I still progressing on the CFP course, therefore I will be using CFP modules as a foundation of comparison.

Modules (CFP) Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Registered Financial Planner (RFP)
1 Foundation in Financial Planning and Tax Planning Fundamentals of Financial Planning (Module 1) + Zakat & Tax Planning (Module 4)
2 Insurance Planning & Estate Planning Risk Management & Insurance Planning (Module 2) + Estate Planning (Module 5)
3 Investment Planning and Retirement Planning Investment Planning (Module 3) + Retirement Planning (Module 6)
4 Financial Plan Construction and Professional Responsibilities Applications in Financial Planning (Module 7)
Direct Link https://www.fpam.org.my/be-a-certified-planner/ https://mfpc.org.my/education/registered-financial-planner-rfp/

NOTE: The content displayed on the table is as good as of 27 Feb 2020.

If you have visited both websites shared as mentioned in the table above then you will notice that both courses offered a total of 7 main topics (based on the heading) and the visible difference between them is how the topics are being structured and an additional topic on Zakat; for CFP students, we will have to study go through 4 modules whereas RFP students will be studying them in 7 different modules. There is nothing to shout about on which is better if we are to compare based on the topics itself apart from having an additional topic on Zakat within the RFP course, which is to cater to Malaysia’s context.

Now, I may sound bias just because I am a CFP student but do hear me out before you conclude anything.

CFP as a course and a trademarked brand is internationally recognized. Since its establishment in the early 1970s in the United States and as of today has established himself in 27 countries and territories. From my perspective, they are the association that sets the benchmark of Financial Planning around the world. You may want to read more about them here.

In Malaysia’s context, the Financial Planning Association of Malaysia or FPAM (pronounced as “F-PAM”) was established in the year 1999 and thereafter in the year 2000 forms an agreement with CFP Board of Standards Inc. to become the sole licensing authority for the CFP Mark in Malaysia. You may want to read about them here too. So, theoretical speaking after obtaining the CFP title, you may have the option to practice your knowledge of financial planning in countries that accept CFP Mark subject to the respective specific country’s requirement.

Whereas RFP is a local branded program that was introduced by the former Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) in November 2002. The structure of the program is as quoted from their website as a “Malaysianized syllabus”. Therefore, I believe the structure and how it will be delivered will be very much from a Malaysian context. Now, there is nothing wrong about being delivered in a Malaysian context, because after all it is created in Malaysia and it should be relevant to the students and the students will be able to apply directly into their practices.

Having said so, I noticed that most of Malaysia’s insurance companies if not all would promote and emphasize to their agents to take up the RFP program compared to the CFP program as part of their career development in the industry. I am not sure is it a directive instruction from the management or are they intentionally wanted to support a home developed program because I heard it was subsidized and is cheaper if you are taking the exam as a life insurance agent (Correct me if I am wrong). Hence, it gives me the impression that RFP is developed specifically to cater to life insurance agents and the rest in general.

In my humble opinion, the CFP program too, if we dive into the subtopics are designed for Malaysia’s context but not as detail as RFP courses because after all, the purpose of taking up the course is to understand the theories and thereafter learn to apply them in the practical term. So, in class, we have an in-depth discussion on how we can turn theories into practical usage and since we also have international students in the class, we also exchanged ideas and practices adopted by the respective countries. Hence, CFP student (at least in classes that I followed) I have a wider perspective because, in practice, a client may also have assets and business outside of Malaysia. So, having to understand how other country works is of great benefit too.

In my next post, I will be sharing my reference point for financial planning based on the books that I have read, the influencer that I followed, and podcasts that I have heard for almost 2 years as a CFP student.

If you find this article could benefit your family or friends, please share it around.

If you have comments about this article or suggestions on future topics, please do drop me an email at AskShaneHo [at] Gmail dot com.

*Note:
The title financial planner and financial adviser is a regulated profession by the Securities Commission Malaysia and Central Bank of Malaysia respectively.