How Vanguard helped me pass the CFP® certification exam

As part of National Career Development month, crew member Jordan W. shares his story of preparing for the CFP® exam – and how Vanguard made it easier.

After graduating from college in May, I began my career with Vanguard as part of the Financial Advisor Development Program (FADP). FADP is designed to develop the skills, knowledge, and attributes of recent college graduates to prepare them for a career within Personal Advisor Services (PAS) at Vanguard. As part of the program, FADP participants sit for the CFP® Certification Exam within the first few months. Overall, I felt confident, but a little uneasy about sitting for the exam so soon. My schooling had prepared me well, but I felt like I needed to brush up on some of the material.

Studying for the exam

As I was finishing up my college career, I often wondered how I was going to find time to study for the exam while working full time, making time for my wife and two kids, and volunteering outside of work. When I interviewed for different firms, I always made sure to ask what they could do to help me pass the CFP® Exam. Almost every response was the same – I would have to find the time outside of work to self-study. I would also have to purchase study materials and pay for the exam fees on my own. Occasionally, a firm would offer to reimburse the exam fee if I passed.

Vanguard’s FADP offers a completely different experience.

Vanguard provides FADP participants six weeks of fully paid time to prepare for the exam – my only job was to study. Six weeks, at about 40 hours per week, gave me around 240 paid hours of study. This was a huge opportunity and a key factor to passing the exam. Not to mention, my wife and kids were happy that I could still be around for them in the evenings. Having uninterrupted study time for six full weeks while maintaining a personal life was critical to my passing score. I was so relieved to find something that fit me and my personal situation, I finally felt like a firm recognized what was important to me.

Supporting my preparation

Vanguard’s help didn’t stop at just allowing me the time to study — they also gave me all of the books and related materials needed to pass the test. I had access to books on all the test topics, online access to quiz banks, practice tests, and even videos. Each topic was covered thoroughly, along with test tips, which I couldn’t have known by merely reading a textbook. To top it off, Vanguard also took care of all my exam fees. This type of exam preparation course would have been a huge cost and financial burden had I purchased it on my own, especially as a recent college graduate. You could imagine what a relief it was to know that I could focus fully on passing the exam.

Probably one of the most beneficial things when prepping for the exam, was the full access to experienced and knowledgeable instructors and crewmembers from Vanguard.  If I had issues finding an answer to a question or was having difficulty with a concept, they were always there to help. I also had access to those who had already passed the exam, such as my immediate supervisor, a CFP® certificant who passed the exam last year. He provided much encouragement and support throughout my exam prep. Additionally, we were able to pick the brains of current financial advisors for Vanguard, who acted as mentors and tutors throughout the program. I was able to meet with them at designated times throughout the week and ask questions about test topics.

After having gone through the exam prep process and passing the exam, I feel FADP provided me with every resource available to set me up for success. Without Vanguard’s help, the outcome could have been very different. By having these materials, resources, and time to study, I felt confident going into the exam on test day. Vanguard understands that if I succeed, the company succeeds.

-Jordan W.

To learn more about the Financial Advisor Development Program, check out this blog from program participant Sara Beth and watch the video below. And if you’re ready for a more rewarding, engaging, meaningful career, check out our opportunities at

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