I've received quite a few e-mails over the past two weeks regarding my June column on the CFP Board. Surprisingly, to me anyway, not one of them has been in support of the Board. Most have been from long time advisors, and one or two have even been from past Board members, who revealed that contrary to the opposition of many members, market share has always been the main focus of the Board.
These e-mails have reminded me of a conversation I had with Elissa Buie a couple of years ago. I ran into the past FPA chairperson at a reception two FPA national conferences ago. That must have been about the time the Board hired Sarah Teslik as CEO, so I asked Elissa what she thought about it. Her answer has stuck with me since. "You know, Bob," she said with her soft Virginia drawl. "Frankly, I just don't think that much about it. I'm just not sure how important the CFP Board is to financial planning anymore."
Now, Elissa is one of the sharpest minds in the independent advisory world. In the few times I've disagreed with her over one thing or another, more often than not (I'm sorry to say), she's turned out to be right. And this is a case in point. At the time, my feeling was that a profession needs a professional designation, and for better or worse, the planning profession's designation is the CFP, owned and regulated by the CFP Board. So if it's broke, we need to fix it.
Yet, in conversations with countless advisors since then, my sense is that the sentiment among CFPs and non-CFPs alike is closer to Elissa's than mine. It appears that the Board, despite the participation of some of the finest planners in the business, has drifted further and further from representing the interests and the sentiment of professional financial planners. Perhaps it's time for a successor to step up: Could that be on the FPA's agenda?