In the first part of this post, we discussed the allegations that rocked the CFP board and the facts as we know them thus far. We also noted many key details are still lacking.
So what are we to make of all of this as financial planners?
On the plus side, this incident is an affirmation that the CFP Board, unlike many other designations, has not just Standards of Professional Conduct, but an enforcement process to apply them and keep its house in order—and that, for the integrity of the organization, it’s not afraid to enforce, even if it means ousting its own Board chair and members of its Disciplinary and Ethics Commission. And the CFP Board appears to have taken all the steps one would expect in handling a delicate internal matter appropriately, including the fact that the Board committee to look into the matter was comprised solely of independent board members and that the investigation was conducted by outside counsel, not CFP Board staff.
Nonetheless, the CFP Board has a long and mired history of debacles of varying sorts, along with a troubling lack of transparency. As I wrote in this blog just a few months ago, the CFP Board appears in recent years to be a changed organization from what it was in the past, under positive new leadership and with a newfound focus on rebuilding its trust deficit and moving forward. But when a potentially scandalous incident like this hits an organization, constituents have some fundamental questions that deserve to be answered: What happened? How did it become known? What are the details of how it was handled? Who was actually guilty of what? Were the penalties and consequences appropriate? And how will you make sure it doesn’t happen again?
These questions are especially pertinent given the sensitive nature of the positions that were involved in this particular incident. This wasn’t merely a resignation of a board member; it was the chair of the organization. And this wasn’t merely the resignation of two miscellaneous volunteers; it was the resignation of two members of the Disciplinary and Ethics Commissions responsible for adjudicating the CFP Board’s Standards of Professional Conduct in the first place. Thus, while it’s positive that the CFP Board appears to be proactive in dealing with the issue, the fact that both Board leadership and DEC members were involved nonetheless raises troubling images of conspiracies, cover-ups, and something rotten in the enforcement and adjudication process at the CFP Board itself.
What’s Next From Here?
Unfortunately, there isn’t likely to be much information forthcoming for many months now, until the next meeting of the DEC in March.