CFP Board Requests Comments on Revised Sanction Guidelines and Fitness Standards
CFP Board of Standards (CFP Board) announced today that its Board of Directors has issued proposed revised Sanction Guidelines and Fitness Standards for public comment. CFP Board and its Board of Directors welcome comments to ensure that the proposed revisions reflect the feedback and insights of the CFP® professionals and the public they serve.
“We strongly encourage CFP® professionals, and members of the public more broadly, to submit their input on these proposed revisions,” said CFP Board CEO Kevin R. Keller, CAE. “We believe the proposed revisions to the Sanction Guidelines and Fitness Standards benefit public trust when working with a CFP® professional, advance the profession for those who uphold the standards and promote confidence in the ethical and competence standards of CFP® certification. Public comment periods offer an opportunity for you to give us feedback, and we welcome your perspective.”
For this public comment period, CFP Board created a survey platform that contextualizes the proposed revisions and enables members of the public to submit their feedback more effectively. This survey requests feedback on specific issues. The deadline to submit comments is December 3, 2023. The Board of Directors will consider the public comments and proposed changes during its March 2024 meeting.
About the Proposed Revisions
The proposed revisions center on modifying the Sanction Guidelines to benefit the public and CFP® professionals who uphold the high standards of certification, as well as more closely aligning the Fitness Standards with the Sanction Guidelines.
The Commission on Sanctions and Fitness (the Commission), established by CFP Board in February 2021, conducted a comprehensive review of the Sanction Guidelines and Fitness Standards. The Board of Directors carefully reviewed the Commission’s recommendations. The proposed revisions have been shaped by the following guiding principles:
- CFP® certification is the standard in financial planning, and the public and the financial planning profession expect CFP Board, as a standard-setting organization for the delivery of financial advice and financial planning, to have appropriate and reasonable sanctions.
- The recommended and proposed sanctions should reflect current perspectives (that may differ from the version created 11 years ago).
- The recommendations should support CFP Board’s perspective that CFP® certification is the standard that benefits the public.
- CFP Board advances the profession with contemporary, appropriate and reasonable sanctions that reinforce public trust and demonstrate the organization’s commitment to the public.
Summary of Key Recommendations
The proposal contains a variety of important elements, including the following:
- A revised inventory of 52 conduct categories that align with the Code and Standards
- A new list of 25 general aggravating and mitigating factors that describe the factor and state when the factor should or (should not) aggravate (weigh in favor of raising the sanction) or mitigate (weigh in favor of lowering the sanction)
- An expanded list of specific aggravating and mitigating factors that are tied to specific conduct categories
- A revised framework for evaluating fitness that identifies when an applicant (a) is permanently barred from seeking CFP® certification, (b) currently is ineligible from seeking CFP® certification and (c) is required to file a Petition for Fitness so that the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission may determine whether the applicant is fit for CFP® certification
- An expansive description of the conduct that will result in (a) a permanent bar, (b) a determination that the applicant currently is ineligible for CFP® certification and (c) a required Petition for Fitness
- A uniform application of the Sanction Guidelines to both applicants and CFP® professionals so that there is parity in CFP Board’s evaluation of applicants and CFP® professionals, as well as similar consequences of misconduct for applicants and CFP® professionals
- A new Public Notice that will result if CFP Board grants CFP® certification but the applicant has engaged in conduct that would have resulted in a public censure if the applicant were a CFP® professional
- Several policy conclusions, including the following:
- Certain misconduct should always bar an applicant from becoming a CFP® professional.
- CFP Board should continue to allow the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (DEC) to issue private sanctions.
- The DEC should not be granted authority to impose monetary sanctions.
- CFP Board should at no time remove public sanctions from CFP Board’s website.
The Commission is composed of members with diverse professional backgrounds, including a former President of FPA, CFP® professionals from large and small firms, former DEC members, consumer advocates and regulators. Their collective expertise contributes to the comprehensive set of proposed changes.
The Commission spent 23 months, from February 2021 to December 2022, developing its recommendation to the Board for proposed revised versions of CFP Board’s Sanction Guidelines and Fitness Standards.
The annotated version of the proposed revisions to the Sanction Guidelines can be found here, and the annotated proposed Fitness Standards can be found here. The public can submit comments to CFP Board through an online form on CFP.net. After the comment period has closed, all submitted comments to CFP Board will be posted on the CFP.net website with the name of the commenter and the date submitted.
CFP Board is the professional body for personal financial planners in the U.S. CFP Board consists of two affiliated organizations focused on advancing the financial planning profession for the public’s benefit. CFP Board of Standards sets and upholds standards for financial planning and administers the prestigious CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM certification — widely recognized by the public, advisors and firms as the standard for financial planners — so that the public has access to the benefits of competent and ethical financial planning. CFP® certification is held by more than 97,000 people in the U.S. CFP Board Center for Financial Planning addresses diversity and workforce development challenges and conducts and publishes research that adds to the financial planning profession’s body of knowledge.
Director of Public Relations