Off the Beaten Path

I usually don't comment on advisor politics or regulation. For one thing, it rarely impacts practice management, and frankly, I just don't have the time to think about it. And there are plenty of folks who regularly cover that beat. But the CFP Board has the advisors I talk to so worked up these days, I feel obligated to make a few observations.

The Board intersects with practice management on two fronts: ethical conduct (which is virtually a non-issue among the advisors I work with) and whether to hire CFPs or encourage existing employees to get their CFP, which does affect significantly the strategies I suggest. My experience is that advisors' attitudes about having CFPs in their practices waxes and wanes with their feelings about the CFP Board itself: which usually ranges from lukewarm (as in "The Board hasn't done anything dumb lately, so I guess the marketing benefits make a CFP worth the cost and effort") to downright animosity ("Can you believe what those idiots have done now? Having a CFP sure doesn't represent what it used to...").

Lately, the Board has once again fallen out of favor by putting its Board of Professional Review, now known as the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (DEC), under the control of the Board staff, triggering the resignations of the majority of the advisors on the DEC. Putting bureaucrats in charge of professionals is a move worthy of government regulators, which may be the intent. CFPs around the country are pretty worked up about it, and I can tell you, the inclination to hire or encourage CFPs is way down.

As a relatively disinterested observer, it seems to me the CFP Board doesn't really represent CFPs, and frequently takes actions that make that fact painfully clear to CFPs. To get the 56,000 or so existing CFPs truly behind the CFP marks once again, the Board (or some successor organization) needs to put the "self" back into the regulatory organization, and embrace the notion that the public is best served by a profession of Certified Financial Planners, rather than seemingly trying to protect the public from them.

Reprints Discuss this story
This is where the comments go.