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CFP Board

October 15, 2013

In This Issue:

Message from the CEO 

CFP Board’s Standards of Professional Conduct, which include our Rules of Conduct, are central to our mission to benefit the public.  Since May 2007, when our current Standards were adopted, CFP Board has devoted significant effort to providing CFP® professionals with resources and guidance to assist in understanding and complying with the Standards.  Recent enforcement actions related to our compensation disclosure rules and definitions have focused heightened attention on these provisions in our Standards.  I want to assure you that our Board of Directors and executive leadership team are fully engaged on this issue and that we are making every effort to facilitate full understanding of and compliance with our compensation disclosure rules and definitions.

In furtherance of these goals:

  • We conducted a webinar in August in which we reviewed the rules, the definitions and their application to various business models.
  • We mailed to all CFP® professionals a Notice on the importance of accurate compensation disclosure in which we encouraged CFP® professionals to carefully review the accuracy of their compensation disclosures.
  • We introduced a new Disclosure Guide to assist CFP® professionals in making these and other important disclosures to clients and prospective clients.
  • We are responding to specific requests for guidance on the application of our rules and definitions to specific business models and corporate structures.
  • We are finalizing a model compensation disclosure for CFP® professionals to use with clients to properly disclose their compensation.
  • We temporarily removed – for two business days – the “fee-only” compensation field from our “Find a CFP® Professional” search tool and added a link in the search tool to our compensation definitions. We then communicated directly with the CFP® professionals who previously selected “fee-only” and asked them to update their profile after reviewing our rules and definitions.  We took this action to protect consumers from potential misinformation on our website.

As many of you may know, our compensation disclosure rules and definitions have been the subject of recent articles and commentaries.  Some have largely featured individuals involved in specific enforcement actions by CFP Board’s Disciplinary and Ethics Commission and disagree with the rulings in their cases.  Others have raised important issues that deserve consideration and discussion.  Some have suggested that our rules and definitions are too strict; others say that we are not enforcing our rules aggressively enough; and still others say that we are too aggressive in our enforcement.  

CFP Board’s current Standards were developed through a long and deliberate process that incorporated stakeholder and public feedback with the goals of strengthening CFP Board’s high ethical standards and presenting them in a manner that would be easily understood by CFP® professionals and the public they serve.  Our enforcement procedures were likewise established to provide a process that is fair to participants and credible to the public.  Nevertheless, we welcome an honest and constructive dialogue on our Standards and we want to fully understand your issues and concerns.

But as we engage in these discussions, we must remain committed to the goal of providing the public with clear and transparent information about how clients pay for the services they receive from CFP® professionals.  I am sure you would agree that the public needs financial advice now more than ever and that lack of trust in the financial services industry is a huge barrier to the public seeking the advice they need.  A significant factor in creating the mistrust is inadequate disclosure of potential incentives to provide conflicted advice. 

CFP Board is business and compensation model neutral.  We believe that CFP® professionals can provide ethical services under any compensation arrangement.  They just need to fully disclose those compensation arrangements to their clients in terms the client can easily understand.  We believe that our definition of “fee-only” is a clear, common sense and plain-English explanation of this compensation method. 

Our goal is to benefit the public by facilitating compliance with our Standards. If you have any questions about our compensation rules and definitions, or other aspects of our Standards, I encourage you to review the compliance resources on our website, or send specific questions to us at standards@cfpboard.org.

  Kevin R. Keller, CAE


New Study Shows Benefits of Financial Planning for Americans at All Income Levels

Close to nine in ten American households are engaged in some type of formal or informal financial planning but the extent of this planning varies greatly, according to new research (PDF, 682KB) sponsored by CFP Board and the Consumer Federation of America (CFA).

The research shows that only one in five household decision makers (19%) are comprehensive planners, who take a methodical approach to financial planning, while one in ten (10%) do virtually no financial planning at all. The research further identifies nearly two-fifths of households (38%) as basic planners and one-third of households (33%) as limited planners.

One of the most compelling findings is that the more extensively households plan, the better prepared they are financially in terms of their likelihood of saving, investing, and managing credit card debt; the higher the effectiveness of this saving, investing, and debt management; and the higher their confidence in managing their finances. While higher income households are more likely than lower income households to plan, more than half (54%) of comprehensive planners have annual incomes below $100,000.

“Those families with the lowest incomes are the ones who would benefit the most from financial planning,” noted Stephen Brobeck, CFA’s Executive Director. “Households with the fewest financial resources benefit the most from carefully planning spending, saving, and debt management,” he said, though he also added that “marshaling limited financial resources to meet essential needs represents a huge challenge for these households.”

CFA and CFP Board undertook the research with assistance from Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI), which surveyed a representative sample of 1,002 financial decision makers nationwide from April 12 to 24, 2013. The survey included more than 60 questions and has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points. This press release includes additional data from cross-tabulations and calculations that are not included in the published report.

“This research reaffirms the value of financial planning for all households and also the value of receiving assistance from a financial professional who always puts the clients’ best interest first and abides by a fiduciary standard of care,” said CFP Board CEO Kevin R. Keller, CAE.

Read the full study report > (PDF, 682KB)

View an infographic of the four distinct financial planning profiles > (PDF, 311KB)

Financial Planning Days Brings Free Financial Planning to Americans

This fall, hundreds of CFP® professionals will participate in Financial Planning Days in twenty cities around the U.S. During these events, taking place between September 28 and November 2, 2013, CFP® professionals will partner with local city governments and gather in designated schools, municipal buildings, and libraries to provide Americans with the opportunity to get competent financial advice at absolutely no cost, and with no strings attached.

Now in its fourth year, Financial Planning Days is a joint endeavor by CFP Board, the Financial Planning Association® (FPA®), the Foundation for Financial Planning, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The mission of the initiative is to bring free, ethical financial planning advice to the general public through one-on-one advising sessions and classroom-style workshops. CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals will be donating their time to offer “no-strings-attached” advice. For many individuals, Financial Planning Days events represent their introduction to financial planning and their first experience with CFP® professionals. CFP Board is grateful to all of the CFP® professionals who are generously donating their time and talents to making these events possible.

Regardless of whether you are participating in Financial Planning Days events this year, we ask you to share information about these events with your contacts. Get information and registration details for upcoming events by clicking the links below or visiting www.FinancialPlanningDays.org

Financial Planning Days

Chicago, IL
Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013
Harold Washington Library


Elizabeth, NJ
Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013
Elizabeth YMCA

Henderson, NV
Saturday, Oct 19, 2013
Silver Springs Recreation Center

Indianapolis, IN
Saturday, Oct 19, 2013
University of Indianapolis

Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013
Los Angeles Central Library

Miami, FL
Monday, Oct. 21, 2013
Tuesday, Oct. 22. 2013
Miami-Dade Wolfson Campus

Milwaukee, WI
Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013
Destiny Youth Plaza


Phoenix, AZ
Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013
John F. Long Family Services Center

San Francisco, CA
Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013
UC-Hastings College of the Law

St. Louis, MO
Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013
Forest Park Community College,

Student Center

Virginia Beach, VA
Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013
Virginia Beach Convention Center

Washington, DC - Metro Area
Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013
Columbia Heights Educational Campus


West Sacramento, CA
Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013
West Sacramento City Hall



“Let’s Talk Planning” Blog: Navigating the Affordable Care Act

In the latest installment of CFP Board’s “Let’s Talk Planning” blog and the third feature in its “Let’s Talk Obamacare” series, CFP Board Consumer Advocate Eleanor Blayney, CFP® advises those thinking about paying the penalty instead of buying insurance to consider the long-term financial benefits of having health insurance. Previous installments in the series included posts on the impact of the Affordable Care Act on individuals working for large employers, and small business employees and the self-employed. “Talk to a CERTIFED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, who can help you evaluate the costs of coverage options and plan for comprehensive health care under the Affordable Care Act,” urges Blayney.

Other recent blog posts have addressed:

  • Debt Ceiling Reflux: Trying to Make Sense of the Issue – What You Can Do
  • 2013 Financial Planning Days
  • Financial Planning Profiles of American Households
  • Financial Planning for Retirees with No Savings
  • Defending Ourselves Against Financial Abuse 

Visit the blog for timely topics you can share or discuss with your clients and potential clients. Subscribe to the blog to receive notifications when new posts are added.

CFP Board Consumer Advocate and CFP Board Ambassadors in the News

CFP Board’s Consumer Advocate works to educate the public on the value of financial planning, and CFP Board Ambassadors in key regions around the country give local voice to CFP Board’s consumer advocacy and mission to benefit the public. In recent weeks, they have been featured prominently by the media.

  • AARP Bulletin’s look back on what we learned from the recession features insights from CFP Board’s Consumer Advocate, Eleanor Blayney, CFP® and a number of other CFP® professionals.
  • BBC’s video, “Is Your Retirement Watertight,” features CFP Board Ambassador Marilyn Capelli Dimitroff, CFP®, ambassador for the Detroit, Michigan area.
  • A CNN/Money story asks, “Where’s the Yelp for Financial Advisors?” and features CFP Board’s Consumer Advocate, Eleanor Blayney, CFP®, on the importance of taking time to find the right advisor.
  • USA Today’s story, “Knowing When You Need Life Insurance,” featured three CFP Board Ambassadors: Greg Dorriety, CFP®, ambassador for the Mobile, Alabama area; Cary Guffey, CFP®, ambassador for the Birmingham, Alabama area; and John Hauserman, CFP®, ambassador for the Baltimore, Maryland area. 

Read these and other notable media references to CFP Board and the CFP® certification >

CFP® Professionals Honored for Giving Back to Communities

CFP® professionals were recently honored for their charitable activities through Pro Bono Awards from Financial Planning and the Foundation for Financial Planning and through Community Leadership Awards presented by the Invest in Others Charitable Foundation and InvestmentNews.

Pro Bono Awards recognize both individual advisors and teams of planners who provide exceptional free planning help to those who could not afford it. The Pro Bono Award was presented to David Blaydes, CFP®, of Naperville, Illinois, and Stacy Francis, CFP®, of New York, New York, and the Team Pro Bono Award was presented to Hal Eastbrook, CFP® and the other CFP® professionals and FPA members of FPA of Massachusetts for its military support program. Pro Bono Awards runners-up and honorable mentions included Jeffrey Dobyns, CFP®, of Franklin, Tennessee, Janice Chapman, CFP®, of Annapolis, Maryland, and FPA of Central Ohio.

Learn more about the 2013 Pro Bono Awards >

Community Leadership Awards recognize financial advisers who make a difference in their communities. The Community Service award was presented to Bruce E. Fyfe, CFP®, of Clearwater, Florida, and the Global Community Impact award was presented to Jessica Jones, CFP®, of The Woodlands, Texas. Community Leadership Awards finalists included Hatim Smouni, CFP®, of Little Rock, Arkansas.

Learn more about the 2013 Community Leadership Awards >

Upcoming CFP® Certification Examinations

This year’s final administration of the CFP® Exam will take place November 15-16, 2013. Registration for the November exam closed on October 8, 2013.

The first CFP® Exam administration of 2014 will take place March 21-22, 2014. Encourage your qualified colleagues to register online by the registration deadline of February 11, 2014, at www.CFP.net/exam.

Upcoming CFP Board Events 

Don’t Miss FPA Experience 2013: The Conference for CFP® Professionals

Thousands of CFP® professionals belong to the Financial Planning Association® (FPA®), and each year attend the largest gathering of the financial planning community, FPA Experience 2013

At FPA Experience 2013 in Orlando, Fla., October 19-21, 2013, you can earn CE credit and experience unparalleled networking opportunities with other CFP® professionals, high-quality diverse educational sessions for all career stages and an exhibit hall showcasing the latest product and service providers who can help you manage and grow your business.

Your registration also gets you access to the FPA Virtual Experience where you will be able to catch up on sessions you missed at the live event and accrue additional CE credits. And an online and onsite Job Fair will provide the opportunity to possibly pursue your next career opportunity. Don’t miss it!

Join us at FPA Experience 2013. View the full program, impressive speaker line up and register today.

CFP Board’s Financial Planning Competency Handbook: New Features for Wiley-sponsored Online CE Program