Planning Groups Flex Lobbying Muscle

FPA, CFP Board, NAPFA will cooperate to shape financial services reform in new Congress

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Anticipating reform of the financial services industry during the 111th Congress, the leaders of three of the top financial planning organizations--the CFP Board, the Financial Planning Association (FPA), and NAPFA--have banded together to lobby Congress on how such reform should affect the financial planning profession.

Kevin Keller, CEO of CFP Board, says that the "buzzwords" being bandied about on "K Street, Capitol Hill, and at the SEC" is that when it comes to reforming financial planning services, Congress is debating some type of "harmonization or a universal standard of care." The concern among the three planning groups, Keller says, is that those words are "in effect a euphemism for a lower standard of care. We think it's in the best interest of the public that financial planning services be provided at a fiduciary level and at a level that requires a high level of competence."

When the 111th Congress convenes, Keller says, "financial services reform is one of its top priorities." The economic crisis, he says, was "clearly not caused by financial planners; what we do know is that if the financial intermediaries that got us into this mess were putting the best interests of their clients first, we probably wouldn't be in this situation." So the three planning groups want to "make sure that in any movement or legislation that might seek to impose some uniform standard of care, that the interests of the public are represented and protected and that financial planning doesn't get swept up in some broad legislation."

The top executives of the three groups held their first "exploratory" meeting on December 3, and while no date has been set for the next meeting, Keller says "there is work happening at the staff level," of each organization. "We'll be continuing to work with the other two groups."

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