About CFP Board

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Disciplinary Process

CFP Board developed its disciplinary procedures — outlined in CFP Board's Disciplinary Rules and Procedures — to ensure that the enforcement process remains expedient, consistent and fair for all participants and credible to the public. The process typically consists of:

  1. Request for Investigation - Upon receipt of a written complaint, CFP Board Counsel reviews the allegations to determine if further investigation is warranted.

  2. Investigation - If CFP Board Counsel determines to proceed with an investigation, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional is given written notice of the investigation, which contains the general nature of the allegations. The CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional is given 30 days within which to file a written response. If no response is received within the allotted 30 days, CFP Board will send a second request to the CFP® professional. The CFP® professional is given 20 days to file a response. If no response is received, CFP Board will issue a formal complaint, and the case is presented to a hearing panel.

  3. Probable Cause Determination - CFP Board Counsel determines if there is probable cause to believe grounds for discipline exist. If so, staff will issue a formal complaint against the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional. The complaint contains the specific allegations of misconduct and the potential Code of Ethics, Rules of Conduct and/or Practice Standards violations. The CFP® professional has 20 days from the date the complaint is filed to answer the complaint. If no answer is received, the allegations in the complaint are deemed admitted and the CFP® professional's right to use the CFP® certification marks is administratively revoked.

  4. Hearing Panel - When CFP Board files a formal complaint, a CFP® professional has the right to a hearing before a panel of three individuals. At least one member of every hearing panel is a member of the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission, and at least two members must be CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals. A CFP® professional is entitled to appear in person or telephonically, to be represented by counsel at the hearing, to cross-examine witnesses and to present evidence on his or her behalf.

  5. Disciplinary and Ethics Commission - The hearing panel submits its findings for review to the full Disciplinary and Ethics Commission which, after considering all the facts and recommendations, renders a final decision.

  6. Appeals Committee - If a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional disagrees with the decision of the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission, a CFP® professional has the right to petition the decision to the Appeals Committee. The Appeals Committee is composed of members of the Board of Directors. Members of the Appeals Committee may not be members of the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission.

Grounds for Discipline

Misconduct by a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, including the following acts or omissions, constitutes grounds for discipline, whether or not the misconduct occurred in the course of a client relationship:

  • Any act or omission that violates the provisions of CFP Board's Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility (Code of Ethics) or CFP Board's Rules of Conduct
  • Any act or omission that fails to comply with CFP Board's Financial Planning Practice Standards
  • Any act or omission that violates the criminal laws of any state or of the U.S.
  • Any act that is the proper basis for suspension of a professional license
  • Any act or omission that violates CFP Board's Disciplinary Rules & Procedures
  • Failure to respond to a request by the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission without good cause
  • Obstruction of the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission's performance of its duties
  • Any false or misleading statement made to CFP Board

This list is not exclusive, and there may be other acts or omissions amounting to unprofessional conduct, which may also constitute grounds for discipline.

Forms of Discipline

If grounds for discipline have been established, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission may impose any of the forms of discipline below. All disciplinary actions, except private written censure, may be publicly disseminated.

  • Private written censure
  • Public letter of admonition
  • Suspension of the right to use the CFP® marks for a specified period of time, not to exceed five years
  • Permanent revocation of the right to use the CFP® marks.

Report Misconduct by a CFP® Professional

Download a diagram of CFP Board’s disciplinary process (PDF, 132KB)

Did You Know?

Among clients who work with an advisor, 87% of those working with a CFP® professional are satisfied or very satisfied, compared with 72% of those who work with an advisor without certification.
Anyone can call himself a “financial planner.” Only professionals who meet CFP Board’s rigorous standards can call themselves CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals.
The 2013 Household Financial Planning Survey shows that those with a financial plan feel more confident and report more success managing money, savings and investments than those without a plan.
Putting Your Needs First
CFP Board requires CFP® professionals to put their clients’ interests ahead of their own at all times.