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. Commencement of Investigation – CFP Board has the authority to investigate a CFP® professional.
2. Investigation – If CFP Board Counsel determines to proceed with an investigation, CFP Board Counsel may deliver to a CFP® professional a written Notice of Investigation (“NOI”), stating that the CFP® professional is under investigation, identifying the general nature of the allegations, and providing the CFP® professional the email address and mailing address to use for delivery and filing. 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 must respond within 30 calendar days from delivery of the NOI. If the CFP® professional fails to timely respond, CFP Board Counsel will re-deliver the NOI via certified mail or overnight mail. If the CFP® professional fails to respond within 20 calendar days, the CFP® professional is in default, and CFP Board may take disciplinary action, in accordance with Article 3(f) of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures.
3. Requests for Documents and Information – CFP Board Counsel may deliver to the CFP® professional requests relating to or arising out of the allegations raised in the NOI that ask the CFP® professional to produce documents, provide answers to questions, and/or either admit or deny the truth of matters asserted by CFP Board. The CFP® professional must deliver responsive documents or information within 30 calendar days from delivery.
4. Probable Cause Determination – After conducting an investigation, CFP Board Counsel must determine whether there is probable cause to believe grounds for discipline exist and shall: 1) dismiss the allegations as not warranting further investigation at this time; 2) dismiss the allegations with a letter of caution indicating that CFP Board Counsel has determined that based on the available evidence, the Respondent's conduct may have violated the Code and Standards and/or does not warrant referral to the DEC; or 3) begin preparation and processing of a Complaint against the Respondent in accordance with Article 7. For matters that are dismissed, CFP Board reserves the right to reopen the investigation in the future if appropriate. When CFP Board Counsel issues a letter of caution, the Respondent may submit a letter in response to the letter of caution. The response letter will become part of the Respondent's record, but will not receive any additional consideration by CFP Board Counsel. The letter of caution and the response to the letter of caution will be available for consideration by the DEC.
5. Issuance of Complaint – The Complaint contains the specific allegations of misconduct and the potential violations of the Code and Standards. The CFP® professional must deliver a written Answer within 20 calendar days of service of the Complaint. If the CFP® professional fails to file an Answer, the CFP® professional is in default. CFP Board Counsel then delivers to the CFP® professional an Administrative Order of Revocation that revokes the CFP® professional’s certification.
6. Hearing Panel – A Hearing Panel will conduct the hearing. A Hearing Panel must consist of at least three persons. A majority of the Hearing Panel must be CFP® professionals, and a majority must be DEC members. A DEC member must serve as Chair of the Hearing Panel.
7. Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (“DEC”) – The Hearing Panel must recommend to the DEC whether to find that there are grounds for discipline, and, if so, the appropriate sanction. The Hearing Panel’s recommendation must include factual findings, any mitigating or aggravating factors, and the Sanction Guidelines and Anonymous Case Histories that the Hearing Panel found relevant. The DEC shall review the recommendation of the Hearing Panel and may either approve the recommendation or remand it to the Hearing Panel for further consideration. Within 45 calendar days of the hearing being closed, the DEC must mail by certified mail to Respondent a final order containing the DEC's findings of fact and, if appropriate, the sanction imposed. Once the DEC has issued an order, the DEC's decision is final.
8. Appeal Panel – If a CFP® professional disagrees with the decision of the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (“DEC”), a CFP® professional has the right to petition the decision to the Appeal Panel. The Appeal Panel is composed of former DEC members, hearing panel volunteers, and Appeals Committee members. Members of the Appeal Panel may not simultaneously be members of the DEC. The Appeal Panel shall affirm the findings of fact, rule violation(s) and/or disposition of the proceedings, unless the Appeal Panel finds that the findings of fact, rule violation(s) and/or the disposition of the proceedings is clearly erroneous. The decision of the Appeal Panel shall then be presented to the Appeals Committee, composed of members of the Board of Directors, which will either affirm the decision or call the matter for review at the next scheduled Appeals Committee meeting. After review, the Appeals Committee shall affirm the Appeal Panel’s decision or if it finds clear error, remand the matter to the Appeal Panel with instructions for further proceedings. The Appeals Committee’s decision is the final decision of CFP Board.
GROUNDS FOR DISCIPLINE
Misconduct by a Respondent, individually or in concert with others, including the following acts or omissions, shall constitute grounds for discipline, whether or not the act or omission occurred in the course of a client relationship:
- Any act or omission that violates the provisions of CFP Board's Code and Standards
- 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 professional discipline
- Any act or omission that violates CFP Board's Disciplinary Rules and Procedures
- Failure to respond to a request by CFP Board staff, or obstruction of the DEC, or any panel thereof, or CFP Board staff in performance of its or their 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 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