The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards said a record-breaking number of candidates sat for the exam in March. That's good news for a profession hungry for talent as it faces a wave of retirements from first-generation advisors.

A total of 3,683 candidates took the exam during the March 12-19 testing window, breaking last March's record of 3,527 exam takers, the board said. The pass rate remained steady at  68%. According to the board’s data, the pass rate over the past 10 years has averaged roughly 63%.

The board projects that the number of active CFP professionals in the U.S. will soon surpass 100,000, representing about one-third of retail financial advisors. Earlier this year, the board reported that the number of certificate holders in 2023  reached 98,875, a gain of 3.9% over 2022.

“This unprecedented turnout for the March 2024 CFP exam reflects the recognition of CFP certification as the standard for competent, ethical financial planning,” CFP Board CEO Kevin Keller said in a statement. “As more Americans seek trusted and qualified advisors, the value of CFP® certification becomes increasingly evident,” he added.

Candidates in a post-exam survey cited their desire to demonstrate expertise in their job (87%), as the top reason for pursuing the CFP certification.  That was followed by distinguishing themselves as a fiduciary (73%).

The board also said that 68% of March test takers were under 40 years old and 37% e under age 30. More than half of the test takers (1,895) came, in descending order, from the following states: California, Texas, Illinois, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan, Colorado and Massachusetts.

The CFP exam is offered three times annually, in March, July and November. Registration for July 2024, which will be administered July 9-16, is open. The registration deadline is June 25, and the education verification deadline is June 18. Testing appointments are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis, the board said.