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Index of Focus on Ethics Articles

The “Focus on Ethics” article series takes a close look at topics important to understanding CFP Board's new Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct.

 Last Updated:

August 28, 2019

The new Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct ("Code and Standards"), which took effect on October 1, 2019, expanded 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. Explore the articles below to learn how these changes affect you.

Disclosures to Clients – What and When (August 2019): Under the new Code and Standards, a CFP® professional has a duty to provide information to a Client. Whether information may be provided orally or must be provided in writing depends upon whether the Financial Advice that is being provided requires Financial Planning.

Responsibilities When Recommending, Engaging and Working With Additional Persons and When Selecting, Using and Recommending Technology (June 2019): The new Code and Standards sets forth a new standard for when a CFP® professional recommends, engages and works with additional persons, as well as a new standard for duties when selecting, using and recommending technology.

Reporting Obligations to CFP Board (May 2019): The new Code and Standards includes several updates to a CFP® professional’s reporting obligations to CFP Board, both in the types of matters to be reported and the process for reporting.

Monitoring and Updating Progress (April 2019): The new 7-step financial planning process in the Code and Standards concludes with an almost entirely new section outlining a CFP® professional’s responsibilities with regard to monitoring the Client’s progress and updating goals, recommendations, or implementation decisions.

The new Code and Standards sets forth the ethical standards for CFP® professionals, replacing CFP Board’s Code of Ethics, Rules of Conduct, Financial Planning Practice Standards and Terminology. The new Code and Standards took effect October 1, 2019, and the enforcement date is June 30, 2020.

Access the new Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct 

Developing, Presenting and Implementing Recommendations (March 2019): The new 7-step financial planning process in the Code and Standards includes three steps that outline requirements for developing, presenting and implementing recommendations.

Identifying and Selecting Goals and Analyzing Course(s) of Action (February 2019): The new 7-step financial planning process in the Code and Standards includes Step 2 focused on helping the Client with identifying and selecting goals, and Step 3 focused on analyzing the Client’s current course of action and potential alternative course(s) of action to develop financial planning recommendations.

Understanding the Client's Personal and Financial Circumstances (January 2019):The new Code and Standards introduces a new 7-step financial planning process that begins with Step 1: "Understanding the Client's Personal and Financial Circumstances." 

The 7 Step Financial Planning Process (November 2018): CFP Board’s new Code and Standards incorporates a shorter Financial Planning definition and a comprehensive update to the Practice Standards that reflects the delivery of Financial Planning, provides detailed requirements for the Financial Planning process, and increases the number of steps in the Financial Planning process from 6 to 7.

Client Confidentiality and Privacy (October 2018): CFP Board’s new Code and Standards includes a duty of Confidentiality and Privacy that identifies the specific circumstances when it would not be a violation of the Code and Standards to disclose a Client’s non-public personal information. 

Avoiding or Managing and Disclosing Conflicts of Interest (August 2018): CFP Board’s new Code and Standards specifically addresses a CFP® professional’s obligations concerning Conflicts of Interest. The fourth element of the Code of Ethics states: A CFP® professional must avoid or disclose and manage conflicts of interest.

Disclosing and Accurately Representing Compensation to Clients (July 2018): A CFP® professional providing financial advice to a Client is obligated to the Client with accurate information regarding how the CFP® professional is compensated, and how the Client will pay for the products and services provided by the CFP® professional.

Understanding the New Code of Ethics (June 2018): In CFP Board’s new Code and Standards, the Code of Ethics was rewritten as a concise presentation of the principles that guide the behavior of CFP® professionals. Those principles are elaborated in more detail through the Standards of Conduct that follow.

CFP® Professionals’ Fiduciary Duty When Providing Financial Advice (May 2018): The fiduciary duty is cornerstone of a CFP® professional’s commitment to high standards. CFP Board’s new Code and Standards expands the application of the fiduciary duty to all Financial Advice.

Access More Guidance Materials

This compliance resource is part of a full library of resources that CFP® professionals can use to comply with the Code and Standards. More guidance materials can be found in our Compliance Resources Library.

Browse the Compliance Resources Library