CFP Board Strengthens Enforcement Program and Opens 1,266 Investigations
Since December 2019, CFP Board has invested significant resources, both financially and operationally, to strengthen the enforcement of our Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct (Code and Standards), for the benefit of all Americans and to reinforce the confidence and security that comes from working with a CFP® professional. These investments were informed by the recommendations provided by the Independent Task Force on Enforcement.
Earlier this year, CFP Board announced plans to complete background checks on all 87,000+ CFP® professionals to detect potential misconduct that previously had not been reported to CFP Board, including regulatory actions, firm terminations, customer complaints, arbitrations, and civil court litigation that involve professional conduct, criminal matters, bankruptcies, civil judgments, and tax liens. CFP Board also facilitated consumer access to BrokerCheck and IAPD disclosure information from listings of CFP® professionals on CFP Board’s websites, LetsMakeAPlan.org and CFP.net.
CFP Board has completed the background checks and opened “Historical Investigations” into the conduct of 1,266 CFP® professionals, or approximately 1.4% of the total CFP® professional population. In conducting these background checks, CFP Board followed the limitations period set forth in the Procedural Rules and opened investigations only where it discovered potential misconduct that occurred in the past seven years. CFP Board also sent cautionary letters to those CFP® professionals with potential misconduct that occurred between seven and ten years ago.
CFP Board enforcement staff have completed more than 40% of the Historical Investigations and issued nearly 80 Complaints, some of which already have been adjudicated by CFP Board’s Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (DEC), a peer review body that includes both CFP® professionals and members of the public. CFP Board expects to substantially complete the Historical Investigations by the end of 2021. Any public sanctions that CFP Board issues will be announced in news releases and made available to the public on CFP Board’s websites.
CFP Board has taken additional measures to strengthen its enforcement program. On June 30, 2020, CFP Board began enforcing the new Code and Standards, which requires each CFP® professional to report to CFP Board, within 30 days, various categories of information that may reveal potential misconduct. CFP Board also implemented other measures designed to detect potential misconduct as it arises. Finally, CFP Board bifurcated the Detection and Investigation functions from the Adjudication and Appeals functions, and hired Tom Sporkin, JD, as Managing Director of Enforcement to lead the Detection and Investigation efforts. CFP Board’s General Counsel, Leo Rydzewski, JD, CAE, will continue to oversee Adjudications and Appeals. This week, CFP Board also completed a redesign of the format and content of its consumer website, LetsMakeAPlan.org, including the site’s listings of CFP® professionals, to make information about CFP® professionals available to consumers.
“All of us at CFP Board are steadfast in our commitment to strengthening CFP Board’s enforcement program. As a certifying and standards-setting organization, we are dedicated to upholding our strong competency and ethics standards and to raising those standards when appropriate, for the benefit of the public. These enforcement efforts are critical and reflect the dedication of CFP Board’s Board of Directors and staff to fulfilling our mission at a time when the demand for quality financial planning advice is at a premium,” said Kevin R. Keller, CAE, CEO of CFP Board.