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I am interested in becoming a certified financial planner. I’m trying to acquire the necessary qualifications for this job without going to college; I don’t want to spend four years in classes if there is a way I can get right into this field. What do you suggest?
— A. Jones, Via the Internet

I suggest you enroll in a four-year accredited college. There are no shortcuts to a successful career, and with all the media coverage surrounding the latest financial scandals involving corporate executives, government officials, and personal financial advisers, why would you be anything but thorough and rigorous about your credentials? Fortunately, the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards has very specific requirements for certification. Beginning January 2007, before candidates are even eligible for taking the certification exam, they must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited U.S. school. Other criteria include work experience and ethics, including full disclosure of any criminal, civil, governmental, or self-regulatory agency proceeding or inquiry. Also, beginning January 2007, applicants will be required to pass the Candidates Fitness Standards, which reviews conduct that may prevent certification. There are no shortcuts. For more information visit the Websites of the Financial Planning Association ( Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. (