Disciplinary Process - CFP Board

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Disciplinary Process


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 developed its 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 includes some or all of the following steps:

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

  2. Investigation - If CFP Board Counsel determines to proceed with an investigation, a CFP® professional is given written notice of the investigation (“NOI”), which contains the general nature of the allegations. If the investigation is initiated following receipt of a complaint form, the CFP® professional who is the subject of the complaint may also be provided with a copy of the complaint. The CFP® professional is given 30 days within which to file a written response to the NOI. 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 an additional 20 days to file a response. If no response is received, CFP Board will issue a formal Complaint, and the case is then presented to a hearing panel of the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (“DEC”).

  3. Probable Cause Determination - Upon completion of the investigation, if CFP Board Counsel determines there is probable cause to believe grounds for discipline exist, a formal Complaint will be issued against the CFP® 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 DEC, and at least two members must be CFP® 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 the recommendation of the hearing panel, renders a final decision.

  6. Appeals Committee - If a CFP® 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 DEC. The assigned Appeal Panel shall affirm the findings of fact, rule violations(s), and/or the disposition of the DEC proceedings, unless the Appeal Panel finds that the DEC’s actions were “clearly erroneous.”

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.

File a Complaint against a CFP® Professional

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

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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.