Eric Wiegand had set his sights on becoming a Certified Financial Planner. His challenge: how to prepare for a rigorous exam while balancing his responsibilities to his family and to his then employer, Sandy Spring Trust in Olney, Maryland. He was intrigued by the Certified Financial Planning certificate
that UVA offers at its academic center in Falls Church. “I thought a semester-based program that would allow me to proceed at my own pace would work best for me,” he says.
Wiegand was also looking for a program with an academic emphasis, meeting the CFP® Board of Standards’ requirements. He was reassured to find that the UVA program is registered with the board and focuses on its required core competencies.
Wiegand enrolled and soon found that the program met his expectations. He particularly liked the small class size—his largest course had just 12 students—and the ability to develop one-on-one relationships with the instructors and to talk to them about the CFP® exam. “Though hardly leisurely, the semester-based courses really gave us the opportunity to dig into the material,” he says. “If we found ourselves discussing an interesting topic, we had the time to devote to it.”
Wiegand acknowledges that the success of a high-touch program like this depends on the quality of its instructors—and here he felt UVA excelled. Faculty members were veteran lawyers and financial planners who could illustrate course content with real-life examples from their own experiences. “Besides making it easier to understand the material, these stories stuck with me, making it easier to remember key ideas when preparing for the exam,” he says.
Wiegand’s timing was perfect. He completed the seven-course program in four semesters, just after his wife gave birth to their first child. He then went on to pass the CFP® exam on his first try. “I manage and write financial plans for clients every day,” Wiegand says. “The knowledge I gained from the certificate program and studying for the exam has given me the confidence of knowing I’m doing the best I can for them.” Today, Wiegand is a VP/Financial Consultant with Charles Schwab.