Recommendations Would Better Protect Older Americans from Financial Exploitation
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) today urged federal and state policymakers to swiftly adopt recommendations made by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to prevent the misuse of senior designations, certifications and titles used by individuals working in the financial services industry.
“These recommendations mark an important step toward addressing the proliferation of designations, certifications and titles used to mislead, confuse and deceive America’s seniors,” said Kevin R. Keller, CFP Board’s Chief Executive Officer. “We fully support the Bureau in its efforts to shine a light on this significant problem and hope policymakers and regulators will quickly implement these common sense recommendations to better protect older Americans.”
Among the Bureau’s recommendations, CFP Board particularly supports the following:
- Creating a centralized tool for consumers to research and verify senior designations, including whether the designation meets certain fundamental criteria to be considered a valid and credible designation;
- Tracking by the Securities and Exchange Commission of complaints related to senior designations, as well as requiring understandable disclosures by any individual claiming expertise specific to seniors;
- Requiring that those individuals holding senior designations and certifications meet and maintain minimum levels of professional standards, including education and accreditation, as well as a minimum standard of conduct; and
- Increasing the supervision and related enforcement of individuals holding certain designations and working with seniors.
In August 2012, CFP Board submitted a comment letter to the Bureau, along with the results of its Senior Financial Exploitation Study. A number of CFP Board’s recommendations from that letter are reflected in whole or in part in the Bureau’s report.
Recommendations included establishment of a rating system for professional certifications and designations, the execution of an educational campaign in connection with the rating system, and the use of objective criteria, modeled after CFP® certification standards, when evaluating other financial services designations. These standards include accreditation; substantial education and experience; a fair, valid and reliable exam; continuing education requirements; high ethical and professional standards; and a rigorous enforcement process that includes revocation of the certification where appropriate and a public disciplinary process.
“We appreciate the Bureau’s commitment to addressing the misleading use of designations and titles by individuals who use them as a way to exploit unwitting consumers – especially older Americans,” said Marilyn Mohrman-Gillis, Managing Director for Public Policy and Communications. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Bureau on this important issue.”
As a 501(c)(3) public interest organization, CFP Board’s mission is to benefit the public. The organization provides many educational materials free of charge that can help consumers make smart money decisions as well as protect themselves from financial scams, fraud and abuse.
These materials include our Financial Self-Defense for Seniors guide, Consumer Guide to Financial Self-Defense, Consumer Guide to Financial Planning and questions to ask a CFP® professional. These and other resources can be found at www.LetsMakeaPlan.org.
ABOUT CFP BOARD
The mission of Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. is to benefit the public by granting the CFP® certification and upholding it as the recognized standard of excellence for personal financial planning. The Board of Directors, in furthering CFP Board's mission, acts on behalf of the public, CFP® professionals and other stakeholders. CFP Board owns the certification marks CFP®, Certified Financial Planner™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements. CFP Board currently authorizes more than 68,000 individuals to use these marks in the U.S.
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