Common Questions - Ethics & Enforcement | CFP Board

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Common Questions


The new Code and Standards became effective Oct. 1, 2019, and includes a range of important changes, including expanding the scope of the fiduciary standard that requires CFP® professionals to act in the best interest of the client at all times when providing financial advice.

The enforcement date for the new Code and Standards is June 30, 2020. For conduct that occurs between October 1, 2019 and June 29, 2020, CFP Board will continue to enforce violations of the previous Standards of Professional Conduct. Starting June 30, 2020 and onward, CFP® professionals may then be subject to disciplinary action for any violations of the new Code and Standards.

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CFP Board has assembled the following answers to common questions received regarding the process of filing a complaint against a CFP® professional, and CFP Board's activities during the investigation of complaints. If you have additional questions, please contact CFP Board at 800-487-1497 or

How Long Does the Complaint Process Take?
The length of time it will take to deal with any particular complaint is difficult to determine in advance. The complexity of a case, the ability to timely acquire sufficient evidence, and CFP Board’s existing caseload are factors that will affect timing. You can help us speed up an investigation by providing as much information and supporting documents as possible with your complaint.

CFP Board generally processes complaints in the order in which they are filed and as quickly as the process will allow. Because CFP Board investigations are confidential pursuant to Article 17.1 of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures, CFP Board staff is unable to provide you with any information regarding what actions we may or may not be taking with respect to the CFP® professional named in your complaint. If a CFP Board investigation results in a hearing where the outcome is a public sanction, then that information will be publicized in a press release and also posted on CFP Board’s website.

Will You Only Look at My Complaint?
You should not expect that a complaint will be resolved solely on the basis of what your complaint alleges to have happened, just as the matter will not necessarily be resolved solely on the basis of the answer submitted by the CFP® professional. CFP Board Counsel will make a decision whether to issue a formal Complaint based on the weight of all available information and whether there is sufficient probable cause to believe a violation of the Standards of Professional Conduct has occurred.

Can CFP Board Help Me to Recover Any Lost Funds?
You should not expect to receive any monetary compensation through the CFP Board enforcement process. Disciplinary proceedings are restricted to the question of whether a CFP® professional violated CFP Board’s Standards of Professional Conduct and sanctions are limited to the following: (i) private censure; (ii) public letter of admonition; (iii) suspension; and (iv) revocation of the CFP® professional’s right to use the CFP® marks.

Can I File a Complaint Against Someone Who is Not a CFP® Professional?
No. CFP Board can act only against CFP® professionals and only to enforce its Standards of Professional Conduct. You can check to see whether someone is currently certified as a CFP® professional by entering the individual’s name into the “Verify CFP® Certification Status” search tool.

File a Complaint Against a CFP® Professional

Learn more about the ethical standards for CFP® professionals

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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 themselves 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.