Once again, the reader named PPott raised a number of important questions in response to my Dec. 13 blog “Why We Need a Financial Advisory Profession,” that get to the heart of when and how a job—such as delivering financial advice or products—becomes a “profession.”
First on his or her list is a point I meant to address in my last blog, but just ran out of space: “I am not certain that professions have to be exclusionary; all that they really need are to have requirements.”
Well, yes—and no. That is, yes, professions certainly need to have requirements (as enumerated in my earlier blog; starting with a duty to put the interests of their clients/patients/flock first, ahead of their own). Yet those very requirements make professions, in practice, exclusionary: people who decline to adhere to their requirements are excluded from a profession, or are summarily kicked out, should they at some point fail to meet its standards.
To my mind, its eagerness to be as “inclusionary” as possible has historically been one of the stumbling blocks for the CFP Board in its attempt to create a financial planning profession. A profession has to be willing to clearly state “this is what we stand for” (including putting the clients’ interests first), and to exclude people who do not meet those standards.
As part of the enforcement of their inclusionary/exclusionary process, professions use government-sanctioned licensing, which PPott also addresses: “Many of the occupations which you mention require something which is referred to as a ‘state license’… … [including] requirements which a person has to meet and then grants them a license to do the job.” Just so.