CFP Board enforces the Code and Standards through a peer-review process set forth in the Procedural Rules that is credible to the public and fair to those whose conduct CFP Board is evaluating.
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 acknowledge receipt of the NOI 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 30 calendar days, the CFP® professional is in default, and CFP Board may take disciplinary action, in accordance with Article 4.1 of the Procedural Rules.
3. Requests for Documents, Information, and Admissions – 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 sanction exist and shall: 1) dismiss the allegations as not warranting further investigation at this time; 2) dismiss the allegations with a Letter of Dismissal indicating that CFP Board Counsel has determined that based on the available evidence, the Respondent's conduct may have violated the Code and Standards but does not warrant referral to the DEC; or 3) begin preparation and processing of a Complaint against the CFP® professional in accordance with Article 3. 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 Dismissal, the Respondent may submit a letter in response to the Letter of Dismissal. The response letter will become part of the CFP® professional's record, but will not receive any additional consideration by CFP Board Counsel. The Letter of Dismissal and the response to the Letter of Dismissal will be available for consideration by the DEC in any future action.
5. Issuance of Complaint – The Complaint contains the specific allegations of misconduct, a detailed factual description of the conduct, and the potential violations of the Code and Standards. The CFP® professional must deliver a written Answer within 30 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 Suspension that suspends a CFP® professional's Certification and License for one year and one day or an Administrative Order of Revocation that revokes the CFP® professional’s certification, depending on the seriousness, scope, and harmfulness of the allegations.
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 sanction, 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 either accept, reject, or modify the Hearing Panel's findings and recommendations. The DEC will issue by email 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. Appeals – If a CFP® professional disagrees with the decision of the DEC, a CFP® professional has the right to petition the decision to the Code and Standards Enforcement Committee. The Code and Standards Enforcement Committee is composed of members of the Board of Directors. The Code and Standards Enforcement Committee may refer the appeal or any portion of the appeal to an Appeal Panel for a recommendation to the Code and Standards Enforcement Committee. The Code and Standards Enforcement Committee or Appeal Panel shall affirm the findings of fact if they are supported by substantial evidence, interpretation or application of the standards if it is reasonable, or fitness determination if there is no abuse of discretion. If a matter is referred to an Appeal Panel, the decision of the Appeal Panel shall then be presented to the Code and Standards Enforcement Committee which will either issue a final order, conduct further proceedings, or resubmit the matter to the Appeal Panel with instructions. The Code and Standards Enforcement Committee must issue its final order in writing. The Appeals Committee’s decision is the final decision of CFP Board.
GROUNDS FOR SANCTION
Misconduct by a CFP® professional, individually or in concert with others, including acts or omissions that violate CFP Board's Code and Standards, shall constitute grounds for sanction, whether or not the act or omission occurred in the course of a client relationship.
CATEGORIES OF SANCTION
If grounds for sanction have been established, the DEC may impose any of the categories of sanction below. All disciplinary actions, except private censure, may be publicly disseminated.
- Private Censure
- Public Censure
- Suspension of the right to use the CFP® marks for a specified period of time, not greater than five years
- Permanent revocation of the right to use the CFP® marks