The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards works to ensure advisors bearing the CFP designation adhere to a strict professional code – or else. Learn more.
Recent disciplinary action taken by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards shines light on the straight and narrow path intended for professionals using the CFP mark. Those who stray face disciplinary action, including revocation of their right to call themselves a certified financial planner.
The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards levied this ultimate penalty against eight advisors in late August, and took less severe disciplinary action against 11 others, according to a statement from the board.
The board grants the certified financial planner designation to financial professionals who have earned a bachelor’s degree, taken additional courses and passed a comprehensive exam. Candidates must also have extensive financial planning experience and demonstrate mastery of all aspects of the profession, including investing, income tax strategies, retirement, insurance and estate and gift planning, according to the board, which also completes an extensive background check on applicants.
A certified financial planner must adhere to a code of ethics and best-practice standards, and bears a fiduciary duty to his or her clients. The legal relationship of trust requires a certified financial planner to act in his or her clients’ best financial interests. To maintain the CFP certification, candidates must comply with continuing education requirements and renew their license every two years.
“CFP professionals agree to act fairly and diligently when providing clients with financial planning advice and services, putting the clients’ interests first,” said the board in a statement. When they don’t, the board steps into investigate and take disciplinary action when necessary.
Among the advisors who lost their CFP designation in August, was a Florida certified financial planner who falsified documents to make it appear that his clients were experienced and accredited investors, then advised these clients to make unsuitable investments in private placement investment products. Another Florida certified financial planner “misrepresented” that he completed a continuing education course.
A certified financial planner in New Jersey saw her designation stripped for demonstrating “an inability to manage her personal finances” by filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in 2009 and Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2011. A Virginia certified financial planner lost his right to use the CFP mark after, among other things, failing to notify the CFP Board of a DUI conviction with the required 10 days.
The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards is also taking steps to amend the continuing education requirements necessary to maintain the CFP certification. Among the proposed changes is increasing the total continuing education hours required each two-year renewal period from 30 hours to 40 hours to enable a certified financial planner to keep abreast of rapid changes in the industry.