During a pandemic, financial advice is an in-demand service, and last year, more people wanted to provide it by earning the certified financial planner designation, according to the CFP Board and the Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB).

The CFP Board, owner of the longest-running CFP certification program, finished 2020 with 88,726 CFP professionals in the U.S., an increase of 2.7%. 

Last year, despite the challenges presented by the global contagion, the FPSB—the group that administers the CFP mark outside the U.S.—reported that with a net gain of 4,658 CFP professionals worldwide, the organization and its global network of affiliates grew the number of CFP professionals by 2.5% to a total of 192,762 as of December 31.

"In 2020, as families faced the impact of job losses and furloughs, forced early retirement and health care challenges, the global financial planning profession stepped up to help people manage their finances and adapt their financial plans," Noel Maye, CEO of FPSB, said in a news release. "At a time when the value of financial planning is more apparent than ever, I'm pleased to see thousands of practitioners join our global community of CFP professionals."

FPSB China, with the second largest CFP professional community in the world, ended the year with 23,579 CFP professionals, up 6.9% over the previous year. 

Rounding out the top four growth markets for CFP professionals were Japan, with a net increase by the Japan Association for Financial Planners of 841 CFP professionals for a year-end count of 23,095, and Planejar, the FPSB affiliate in Brazil, which increased its number of CFP professionals by 740 to 5,414, for a 15.8% growth rate.

Overall, FPSB affiliates in Asia experienced the largest growth rate by percentage, led by the Financial Planning Association of Taiwan with a rate of 17.3%, and the Financial Planning Association of Malaysia, with a growth rate of 15.8%.