CFP Board Imposes Public Discipline

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CFP Board Imposes Public Discipline

Aug 05, 2019

Disciplinary actions relate to 12 current or former CFP® professionals

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) announced today public disciplinary actions against the following individuals, effective immediately or on the date noted in each case. Public disciplinary actions taken by CFP Board, in order of increasing severity, include letters of admonition, suspensions and permanent revocations.

This release contains information about recent disciplinary actions relating to 12 current or former CFP® professionals. Of these actions, there was 1 public letter of admonition, 8 suspensions, and 3 administrative revocations. 


The basis for each decision can be found in a Disciplinary Action Report below and on CFP Board’s website. The public may check on an individual’s disciplinary history and certification status with CFP Board at www.CFP.net/verify.

CFP Board’s enforcement process is a critical consumer protection. CFP® professionals agree to abide by CFP Board’s Standards of Professional Conduct (Standards), which includes the Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, Rules of Conduct and Financial Planning Practice Standards

CFP Board enforces its ethical standards by investigating incidents of alleged violations and, where there is probable cause to believe there are grounds for discipline, presenting a Complaint containing the alleged violations to the CFP Board’s Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) pursuant to CFP Board’s Disciplinary Rules and Procedures (Disciplinary Rules).  If the Commission determines there are grounds for discipline, it may impose a sanction ranging from a private censure or public letter of admonition to the suspension or revocation of the right to use the CFP® marks.  CFP Board’s Disciplinary Rules set forth the process for investigating matters and imposing discipline where violations have been found.

The Commission meets at least six times a year to provide a fair, unbiased review of any matter in which a CFP® professional is alleged to have committed violations of the Standards

The Commission functions in accordance with the Disciplinary Rules and reviews all matters on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the details specific to an individual case. While CFP Board has attempted to capture the details relevant to each decision, the summary nature of these releases may omit certain details affecting the decision. Accordingly, the decisions and/or rationale described in the releases may not apply to other cases reviewed by the Commission or reflect the Commission’s future interpretation or application of the Standards.

STATE

NAME

LOCATION

DISCIPLINE

Nevada

Blanche S. Berenzweig

Las Vegas

Administrative Revocation

California

Walter Chao

San Mateo

Suspension

Arkansas

Carla Chastain

Rogers

Suspension

Maryland

Brandon Croxton

Baltimore

Letter of Admonition

South Carolina

Lloyd Dotson

Pawley’s Island

Administrative Revocation

Illinois

Scott F. Goldman

Arlington Heights

Suspension

California

King S. Lip

San Francisco

Suspension

Tennessee

Aon Miller

Chattanooga

Suspension

Wisconsin

Monica B. Phillip

Milwaukee

Administrative Revocation

Florida

Jason Robert Piepmeier

Plantation

Suspension

Florida

Kitwana Thomas

Jacksonville

Suspension

California

Steve Weinberger

Los Angeles

Suspension


LETTER OF ADMONITION

Maryland

Brandon Croxton, CFP® (Baltimore): In May 2019, CFP Board’s Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) issued an order in which Mr. Croxton received a Letter of Admonition. The Commission issued its order after determining that, in 2016, Mr. Croxton altered a client form without his client’s knowledge and consent and then misrepresented to his manager that he received the form in an email from the client’s financial planner and forged an email to support that misrepresentation.  The Commission further determined that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA) found that Mr. Croxton’s conduct violated FINRA Rule 2010 for alteration of a customer document without the customer’s knowledge or authorization and issued a Cautionary Action Letter to Mr. Croxton.  The Commission determined that Mr. Chandler's conduct violated Rules 4.3, 4.4, 5.1. and 6.5 of CFP Board's Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for discipline pursuant to Article 3(A) of CFP Board's Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Accordingly, the Commission admonished Mr. Croxton with regard to the above-mentioned conduct.  

SUSPENSIONS

Arkansas

Carla Chastain (Rogers): In May 2019, CFP Board’s Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) issued an order in which Ms. Chastain received a suspension of her right to use the CFP® certification marks for two years. The Commission issued its order after determining that Ms. Chastain made untrue and misleading statements and failed to comply with applicable regulatory requirements governing professional services provided to a client when she stated in 2016 that she was an investment adviser representative when she was not and that she had earned the professional designation “IRA Distribution Specialist” from a firm that does not offer such a designation.  The Commission also determined that Ms. Chastain failed to comply with applicable regulatory requirements governing professional services provided to a client.  The Commission further determined that Ms. Chastain had been barred from registration as an investment adviser in Arkansas in 2016 for ten years related to these matters, which she failed to report to CFP Board within 30 calendar days.  The Commission also determined that Ms. Chastain made false or misleading statements to CFP Board when she answered “no” to questions on her 2009, 2015, and 2017 CFP Board Renewal Applications in response to questions regarding investigations by governmental agencies or self-regulatory organizations.  The Commission determined that Ms. Chastain’s conduct violated Rules 2.1 and 4.3 of CFP Board’s Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for discipline pursuant to Article 3(A) of CFP Board’s Disciplinary Rules and Procedures (Disciplinary Rules). The Commission also determined there were grounds to discipline Ms. Chastain pursuant to Articles 3(D) and 13.2 of the Disciplinary Rules. Ms. Chastain’s suspension is effective from June 28, 2019 through June 28, 2021. 

California

Walter Chao (San Mateo): In May 2019, CFP Board’s Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) and Mr. Chao entered into a settlement agreement in which Mr. Chao agreed that CFP Board would issue a one-year and one-day suspension.  In the settlement agreement, Mr. Chao consented to CFP Board's findings that he failed to provide the duty of care of a fiduciary to his financial planning clients when he (a) implicitly endorsed private securities transactions in 2012 to his financial planning clients, even though they had not been approved by his employer; (b) recklessly failed to conduct (or cause to be conducted) adequate due diligence to ensure the transactions’ suitability for financial planning clients; and (c) failed to advise his financial planning clients of potential concerns investment, including issues related to the placement agent fee(s).  CFP Board also found, among other things, that Mr. Chao failed to comply with applicable regulatory requirements governing professional services provided to the client and failed to perform professional services with dedication to the lawful objectives of the employer/principal and in accordance with CFP Board’s Code of Ethics when he engaged in the private securities transactions without his firm’s approval and attempted to conceal from his firm the transactions, and provided false and misleading statements to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and his firm regarding his involvement in the private securities transactions.  CFP Board also found that Mr. Chao was terminated by his firm with respect to this conduct and entered into a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) with FINRA, which found violations of National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) Rules 3010 and 3040 and FINRA Rules 8210 and 2010.  Pursuant to the AWC, FINRA issued Mr. Chao a two-year suspension from associating with any FINRA member in any capacity, a $30,000 fine, and a requirement that he requalify as a General Securities Principal by passing the Series 24 examination, prior to associating with any FINRA-member firm as a General Securities Principal, following his suspension.  CFP Board also found that the California Department of Insurance revoked Respondent’s insurance license and licensing rights, as well as his variable contracts authority, based on FINRA’s issuance of the AWC. CFP Board determined that Mr. Chao’s conduct violated Rules 1.4, 4.3, and 5.1 of CFP Board's Rules of Conduct, and provided grounds for discipline pursuant to Articles 3(A) and 3(D) of CFP Board's Disciplinary Rules. Mr. Chao’s suspension is effective from May 28, 2019 until May 29, 2020.      

King S. Lip (San Francisco): In May 2019, CFP Board’s CFP Board’s Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) and Mr. Lip into a settlement agreement in which Mr. Lip agreed that CFP Board would issue a one-year suspension.  In the settlement agreement, Mr. Lip consented to CFP Board's findings that he failed to meet all CFP Board requirements, including continuing education (CE) requirements, to retain the right to use the CFP® marks when he self-reported to CFP Board over the course of three reporting periods, from 2013 through 2017, that he had completed approximately 69 CE credit hours when Mr. Lip was unable to produce evidence that he completed the CE courses he self-reported.  The CE sponsors who provided the courses also were unable to produce evidence that Mr. Lip completed the CE courses he self-reported.  In addition, CFP Board found that Mr. Lip acknowledged that he had changed dates on CE completion certificates without informing CFP Board CE staff when he initially provided them.  CFP Board determined that Mr. Lip’s conduct violated Rule 6.2 of CFP Board's Rules of Conduct, and provided grounds for discipline pursuant to Articles 3(A) and 3(G) of CFP Board's Disciplinary Rules. Mr. Lip’s suspension is effective from May 28, 2019 until May 28, 2020.   

Steve Weinberger (Los Angeles): In May 2019, CFP Board’s Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) issued an order in which Mr. Weinberger received a suspension of his right to use the CFP® certification marks for two years. The Commission issued its order after determining, among other things, that Mr. Weinberger, between 2004 and 2016, failed to provide a long-time client with the financial planning services outlined in a financial planning agreement without informing the client that he was not; failed to schedule annual portfolio reviews with his client to consider whether her current holdings matched her current priorities; failed to update his client’s portfolio based upon her changed circumstances after she lost her job, became ill, and/or grew increasingly closer to retirement; in one day in 2015, sold stocks that required his client to pay capital gains taxes without informing her about the potential tax liability and after a long period of no or little communication; failed to update answers the client provided years prior in her investment profile while contracted to provide financial planning services; and failed to respond to CFP Board staff requests. The Commission determined that Mr. Weinberger violated Rules 202 and 701 of CFP Board’s former Code of Ethics, Rules 1.4, 2.1, and 4.4 of the Rules of Conduct, and Practice Standards 300-1 and 400-3, and provided grounds for discipline pursuant to Articles 3(A), 3(B), and 3(F) of CFP Board’s Disciplinary Rules and Procedures (Disciplinary Rules). Mr. Weinberger’s suspension is effective from July 5, 2019 through July 5, 2021.

Florida

Kitwana Thomas (Jacksonville): In June 2019, CFP Board’s Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) and Mr. Thomas entered into a settlement agreement in which Mr. Thomas agreed that CFP Board would issue a five-year suspension.  In the settlement agreement, Mr. Thomas consented to CFP Board's findings that, in 2016, he converted his firm’s funds by obtaining reimbursement for computer equipment to which he was not entitled pursuant to his firm’s reimbursement program and also counseled another employee to lie in a firm investigation.  CFP Board also found that Mr. Thomas entered into a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) with respect to the same conduct and pursuant to which he was permanently barred from association with any FINRA member firm in any capacity.  CFP Board determined that Mr. Thomas’ conduct violated Rules 4.3, 5.1, and 6.5 of CFP Board's Rules of Conduct, and provided grounds for discipline pursuant to Articles 3(A) and 3(G) of CFP Board's Disciplinary Rules. Mr. Thomas’ suspension is effective from June 25, 2019 until June 25, 2024.    

Jason Robert Piepmeier (Plantation): In May 2019, CFP Board’s Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) and Mr. Piepmeier entered into a settlement agreement in which Mr. Piepmeier received a suspension of his right to use the CFP® certification marks for six months. In the settlement agreement, Mr. Piepmeier consented to CFP Board’s findings that he failed to meet all CFP Board requirements, including continuing education (CE) requirements, to retain the right to use the CFP® marks.  CFP Board found that Mr. Piepmeier self-reported CE courses to CFP Board over the course of three reporting periods (from 2013 to 2017) that he had completed approximately 90 CE credit hours, including CE Ethics courses, but was unable to produce evidence that he completed them. CFP Board also found that the CE sponsors who provided the courses were unable to produce evidence that Mr. Piepmeier completed the courses he self-reported. CFP Board determined that Mr. Piepmeier’s conduct violated Rule 6.2 of the Rules of Conduct and provided grounds for discipline pursuant to Articles 3(A) and 3(G) of CFP Board’s Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Mr. Piepmeier’s suspension is effective from May 28, 2019 through November 28, 2019. 

Illinois

Scott F. Goldman (Arlington Heights): In May 2019, CFP Board’s Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) issued an order in which Mr. Goldman received a suspension of his right to use the CFP® certification marks for six months. The Commission issued its order after determining that Mr. Goldman failed to comply with applicable regulatory requirements governing professional services provided to a client, failed to exercise reasonable and prudent professional judgment in providing professional services to client, and failed to make and/or implement only recommendations that are suitable for a client when he concentrated a client’s portfolio in unsuitable precious metals investments in late 2009 through August 2010.  The Commission also found that Mr. Goldman entered into a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) with respect to this conduct, which found violations of National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) Rules 2310 and 2821 and FINRA Rule 2010.  Pursuant to the AWC, FINRA issued Mr. Goldman a suspension for 20 calendar days and fined him $10,000.  The Commission determined that Mr. Goldman’s conduct violated Rules 4.3, 4.4, and 4.5 of the Rules of Conduct and provided grounds for discipline pursuant to Articles 3(A) and 3(D) of CFP Board’s Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Mr. Goldman’s suspension is effective from June 28, 2019 through December 28, 2019. 

Tennessee

Aon Miller (Chattanooga): In July 2019, CFP Board’s Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) and Mr. Miller entered into a settlement agreement in which Mr. Miller agreed that CFP Board would issue a one-year suspension.  In the settlement agreement, Mr. Miller consented to CFP Board's findings that he failed to comply with regulatory requirements governing professional services to the client and failed to perform professional services with dedication to the lawful objectives of his employer when he failed to disclose to his employer certain outside business activities in writing prior to engaging in private securities transactions in 2012.  CFP Board also found that Mr. Miller was terminated by his prior firm for his conduct in 2012, and found that, in May 2018, the National Adjudicatory Council of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) concluded that Mr. Miller had participated in private securities transactions without providing requisite notice to his firm in violation of National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) Rule 3040 and FINRA Rule 2010, and suspended him for a total of one year.  CFP Board determined that Mr. Miller’s conduct violated Rules 4.3 and 5.1 of CFP Board's Rules of Conduct, and provided grounds for discipline pursuant to Articles 3(A) and 3(D) of CFP Board's Disciplinary Rules. Mr. Miller’s suspension is effective from July 17, 2019 until July 17, 2020.      

ADMINISTRATIVE REVOCATION

Nevada

Blanche S. Berenzweig (Las Vegas): In May 2019, CFP Board issued an order permanently revoking Ms. Berenzweig’s right to use the CFP® certification marks.  This discipline followed Ms. Berenzweig’s failure to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within the required timeframe.  CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Ms. Berenzweig violated sections of the Wisconsin Statutes and Wisconsin Administrative Code for engaging in prohibited and unfair trade practices with a customer.  CFP Board’s Complaint also alleged that Ms. Berenzweig’s conduct violated Rules 4.1 and 4.3 of CFP Board’s Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for under Article 3(A) of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures (Disciplinary Rules).    Ms. Berenzweig declined to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within 20 calendar days of the date of service, as required by Article 7.3 of the Disciplinary Rules.  In accordance with Article 7.4 of the Disciplinary Rules, the allegations set forth in the Complaint were deemed admitted, and CFP Board issued an Administrative Order of Revocation. Ms. Berenzweig’s revocation was effective as of May 1, 2019.

South Carolina

Lloyd Dotson (Pawley’s Island): In May 2019, CFP Board issued an order permanently revoking Mr. Dotson’s right to use the CFP® certification marks.  This discipline followed Mr. Dotson’s failure to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within the required timeframe.  CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Dotson violated Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Rules 8210 and 2010 when he refused to appear for on-the-record testimony in a FINRA investigation.  CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Dotson entered in an Acceptance Waiver and Consent with FINRA, pursuant to which he consented to FINRA’s findings of the violations and the imposition of a bar from association with any FINRA member in any capacity.  CFP Board’s Complaint also alleged that Mr. Dotson’s conduct violated Rule 4.3 of CFP Board’s Rules of Conduct, and provided grounds for discipline under Articles 3(A) and 3(D) of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures (Disciplinary Rules). Mr. Dotson declined to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within 20 calendar days of the date of service, as required by Article 7.3 of the Disciplinary Rules.  In accordance with Article 7.4 of the Disciplinary Rules, the allegations set forth in the Complaint were deemed admitted, and CFP Board issued an Administrative Order of Revocation. Mr. Dotson’s revocation was effective as of May 20, 2019.

Wisconsin

Monica B. Phillip (Milwaukee): In May 2019, CFP Board issued an order permanently revoking Ms. Phillip’s right to use the CFP® certification marks.  This discipline followed Ms. Phillip’s failure to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within the required timeframe.  CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Ms. Phillip agreed to serve in a fiduciary capacity as the personal representative of a client’s estate and as the financial advisor for the client without adequately disclosing to the client how her duties as a personal representative of the estate may conflict with her duties to the client as her financial advisor.  CFP Board’s Complaint also alleged that Ms. Phillip’s firm terminated her for failing to disclose serving as a personal representative as an outside business activity and because her service as personal representative was contrary to firm policy.  The Complaint also alleged that Ms. Phillip received a Cautionary Action Letter from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) with respect to her failure to disclose the outside business activity to her firm.  CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Ms. Phillip violated Rules 4.3, 1.4, 2.2B, and 5.1 of CFP Board’s Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for discipline under Article 3(A) of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures (Disciplinary Rules). Ms. Phillip declined to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within 20 calendar days of the date of service, as required by Article 7.3 of the Disciplinary Rules.  In accordance with Article 7.4 of the Disciplinary Rules, the allegations set forth in the Complaint were deemed admitted, and CFP Board issued an Administrative Order of Revocation. Ms. Phillips’s revocation was effective as of March 27, 2019. 

ABOUT CFP BOARD

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. is a professional body for personal financial planners in the U.S.  CFP Board sets standards for financial planning and administers the prestigious CFP® certification – one of the most respected certifications in financial services – so that the public has access to and benefits from competent and ethical financial planning.  CFP Board, along with its Center for Financial Planning, is committed to increasing the public’s awareness of CFP® certification and access to a diverse, ethical and competent financial planning workforce. Widely recognized by firms as the standard for financial planning, CFP® certification is held by nearly 85,000 people in the United States.

CONTACT: Dan Drummond, Director of Communications P: 202-379-2252 M: 202-243-8621 E: ddrummond@cfpboard.org Twitter: @cfpboardmedia

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