New Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct

For CFP® Professionals

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New Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct

CFP Board's new Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct (“Code and Standards”), which sets forth the ethical standards for CFP® professionals, replaces CFP Board’s current Code of Ethics, Rules of Conduct, Financial Planning Practice Standards and Terminology, effective October 1, 2019. The enforcement date for the new Code and Standards is June 30, 2020.

The new Code and Standards includes a range of important changes, including expanding the application of the fiduciary standard that requires CFP® professionals to act in the best interest of the client at all times when providing financial advice. Through the new Code and Standards, CFP Board is advancing the role and value of the financial planning profession with a broader fiduciary standard that elevates public trust in CFP® professionals.

Roadmap to the Code and Standards


This reference guide distills essential information about the new Code and Standards and provides a “Roadmap” that allows CFP® professionals and their firms to easily find the information they need to comply with the updated ethical standards for CFP® professionals.

Among other helpful resources, the Roadmap includes:

  • CFP Board Roadmap to Code and Standards Cover tbA summary chart of a CFP® professional's responsibilities under the new Code and Standards
  • A framework for determining whether services are financial advice or financial planning
  • Reference guides about what, when and how to make disclosures to clients
  • Practice Standards with tips for each step of the seven step financial planning process
  • Compliance guides for providing financial advice and financial planning services that are aligned with the new Code and Standards
Download the Roadmap to the Code and Standards

On July 17, 2019, Kevin Ruth, CFP®, member of CFP Board’s Standards Resource Commission, and Leo Rydzewski, Esq., CFP Board’s General Counsel and Managing Director of Professional Standards, hosted a webinar to review key tools in the Roadmap, illustrating how a CFP® professional may use those tools in their work with actual clients and answering questions from the live audience.

View the Recorded Webinar


Case Studies Applying the Code and Standards


Case Studies Applying the New Code and StandardsCFP Board developed these case studies to provide practical guidance to CFP® professionals and their firms on the new Code and Standards.  Each case study presents a hypothetical factual circumstance and then asks a question about a CFP® professional’s duty in that circumstance under the Code and Standards. The case study presents the response options, identifies the best response, and then discusses the rationale for why that response is the best and why the other response options are not the best. CFP Board intends for these and other case studies to guide CFP® professionals in their application of the Code and Standards to their own practice.

Download the Case Studies document

Read the Case Studies online


Documents and Guidance Resources


The following documents reflect technical revisions to the Code and Standards that were announced on November 26, 2018.  The technical revisions do not materially change the Code and Standards; instead, they provide clarity to several sections of the document.

New Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct (PDF)

New Code and Standards Booklet (PDF)

Redline Showing Technical Revisions to New Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct (PDF)

Side-by-Side Comparison of the New Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct to the Current Standards of Professional Conduct (PDF)

Roadmap to the Code and Standards (PDF)

Recorded Webinar: Roadmap to the Code and Standards (Video)

Case Studies Applying the Code and Standards (PDF)

Commentary on New Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct (PDF)

Frequently Asked Questions about the New Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct (PDF)

Brochure: Highlights of CFP Board's New Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct (PDF)

Poster: CFP Board's Code of Ethics (PDF)

Implications of the Code and Standards for "Fee-Only" CFP® Professionals (PDF)


Focus on Ethics Articlesfocus-on-ethics-final


Read short articles about a CFP® professional’s fiduciary duty, disclosure requirements, and other topics important to understanding the new Code and Standards from the “Focus on Ethics” series in the monthly CFP Board Report newsletter. Read the latest articles


Video Series


CFP Board is releasing a new video each month in a 12-part series outlining key details of the new Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct.

New Code and Standards - Summary Video: CFP Board's CEO Kevin Keller and General Counsel Leo Rydzewski discuss details and insights about the new Code and Standards.


View additional videos in the series

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions


CFP-Board-Code-and-Standards-FAQ_Page_01In June 2018, CFP Board formed a Standards Resource Commission to provide guidance to CFP® professionals and their firms on the new Code and Standards. The blue-ribbon group is composed of individuals from financial services firms and members of the public. In response to questions received from stakeholders, including during public forums held in several cities in September 2018, the Standards Resource Commission has assembled responses to Frequently Asked Questions concerning the Code and Standards. Some of the key responses to FAQs address the following:

  • The structure of the Code and Standards;
  • The requirements of CFP Board’s new fiduciary duty;
  • The definitions of Financial Planning, Financial Advice, and other terms;
  • The changes to the Financial Planning process;
  • Why there are now seven steps in the Financial Planning process;
  • The circumstances in which a CFP® professional is required to comply with the practice standards for the Financial Planning process, including the factors that will determine when a CFP® professional is required to provide Financial Planning when providing Financial Advice to a Client;
  • The requirement to provide full disclosure of all Material Conflicts of Interest;
  • The duty not to make false or misleading representations of compensation method, including when a CFP® professional may use the term "fee-only" and what a CFP® professional must do when using the term "fee-based"; and
  • How CFP Board will handle bankruptcies under the new Code and Standards.

Read the Frequently Asked Questions document


Public Forums


CFP Board is hosting a series of public forums around the country, focused on educating CFP® professionals, firms, and the public on the new Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct.

Standards Public Forum Webinar: December 13, 2018
Presenters Blaine Aikin, CFP®, Chair of CFP Board’s Standards Resource Commission, and Leo Rydzewski, CFP Board's General Counsel, discussed the new Code and Standards during a "virtual" public forum webinar on December 13, 2018. 


Learn details and dates for the full series of Public Forums

Click Here to download the Public Forum Webinar presentation slides


Enforcement


CFP Board’s ethical standards for CFP® professionals are enforced through an investigative and disciplinary process described in the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures and Appeal Rules and Procedures. CFP Board is committed to maintaining a disciplinary process that is fair to the CFP® professionals whose conduct comes under scrutiny and one that is credible to the public. 

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 existing Standards of Professional Conduct. Starting June 30, 2020 and onward, CFP® professionals may then be subject to disciplinary action for violations of the new Code and Standards.

Learn about CFP Board’s Enforcement Processes

Proposed Procedural Rules: CFP Board accepted comments on proposed Procedural Rules during a public comment period that ran from Nov. 28, 2018 through Jan. 29, 2019.  The proposed Procedural Rules will consolidate and replace the existing Disciplinary Rules and Procedures and Appeal Rules and ProceduresLearn more >

Background


On March 29, 2018, CFP Board announced that its Board of Directors unanimously approved a new Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct (“Code and Standards”), which sets forth the ethical standards for CFP® professionals. The new Code and Standards replaces CFP Board’s current Code of Ethics, Rules of Conduct, Financial Planning Practice Standards and Terminology, effective October 1, 2019. 

The new Code and Standards reflects the conclusion of CFP Board’s latest review of these standards to maintain the value, integrity and relevance of the CFP® certification. This deliberative and thorough process spanned more than two years, starting with the December 2015 formation of the Commission on Standards, and including active outreach to gather input on proposed revisions from CFP® professionals and the public. CFP Board held more 17 public forums; convened two public comment periods; received more than 1,500 written comments and hundreds of oral comments; conducted a wide-ranging survey; and provided other opportunities for the public to provide feedback and input. 

During the time between the announcement date and the effective date of the new Code and Standards, CFP Board has undertaken a thorough process to educate and inform CFP® professionals on the new Code and Standards.

In June 2018, CFP Board announced the formation of a Standards Resource Commission to help develop resources that will provide guidance to CFP® professionals and their firms on the new Code and Standards. Comprised of individuals from financial services firms and members of the public, the commission will help with the development of materials such as fact sheets, FAQs, videos, webinars and other documents. From September 2018 through December 2019, members of the commission are participating in a series of public forums around the country, focused on educating CFP® professionals, firms, and the public on the new Code and Standards.

The new Code and Standards is integrated into the curriculum for all pre-approved CFP Board Ethics Continuing Education programs (a requirement for CFP® certification renewal), beginning October 1, 2018 – a full year prior to the effective date of the new Code and Standards.


Questions


For questions or additional information about the Code and Standards, please contact us at Compliance@cfpboard.org.

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