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American College President Blasts Remarks of Incoming FPA Chief

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The head of an educational institution for insurance and financial service professionals has criticized the incoming CEO of the Financial Planning Association over comments attributed to the FPA chief in a recent issue of an industry trade publication.

Larry Barton, president and CEO of The American College, Bryn Mawr, Pa., took exception to comments attributed to incoming FPA CEO Lauren Schadel, who states in the August 22, 2012 issue of InvestmentNews that “…one profession and one designation is the best way to build the financial planning profession.”

In an August 23 press statement, Barton describes Schadel’s remark as “ill-informed and detrimental to consumers.” A single educational standard, adds Barton, is potentially most damaging to individuals in the lower and middle income tax brackets.

“It is apparent than Ms. Schadel believes that one designation, the Certified Financial Planner designation, is a panacea for all planners.  Not true,” states Barton.  “FPA also wants to define ‘planning’ as a separate profession instead of recognizing it as the discipline it is, one used throughout financial services.  The FPA already has enough challenges, and believing in a monopoly just adds to their headaches.”

Barton adds that consumers must be able to choose from among financial professionals with other “reputable designations,” including advisors holding the CLU, ChFC, CPA or CFA marks. The American College offers coursework leading to these and other designations for insurance and financial professionals, including the widely recognized CFP mark.

“While the affluent may be able to afford a fee-only planner, there are many who work for banks, mutual fund companies, insurance companies and accounting firms who can also provide very sound planning advice,” he adds. “Financial planning shouldn’t be artificially defined as a separate profession. Instead, FPA and other organizations should encourage the process of planning to be used as broadly as possible, regardless of the designations an advisor may choose to pursue.

“We want planners to have choices,” Barton continues. “The CFP is an excellent one, as are such marks as CLU, ChFC or CFA, for example. As Ms. Schadel assumes the helm of the FPA, it is my hope that she will think twice about isolating the hundreds of thousands of advisors who don’t fit her criteria.”