Last week, leaders from the CFP Board, including CEO Kevin Keller, board of directors chair Nancy Kistner and chair-elect Ray Ferrara, traveled to the FPA Retreat conference and NAPFA’s national spring conference. The purpose of the visit was not just to participate in the conference itself or check out the latest growth of the organizations; instead, it was to gauge support from these gatherings of the experienced planner community for a potential new initiative: the CFP Board is considering whether it should begin to offer CFP Continuing Education (CE) credit to its certificants, going into direct competition with the CE sponsors it is simultaneously responsible for overseeing, in an effort to raise the quality of CFP CE.
Not surprisingly, given the fiduciary focus of both FPA and NAPFA members and the efforts of the respective organizations on the Financial Planning Coalition—which is currently making the lobbying case for why a conflicted organization like FINRA should not be allowed to oversee registered investment advisors—planners from both groups were negative on the proposal, citing the blatant conflict of interest involved if the CFP Board were to compete with those it regulates.
While at this point, the reality is that this is just a preliminary discussion, and not even a substantively drafted proposal issued for comment, it nonetheless raises a more substantive question. Specifically, is this really the best idea the CFP Board has regarding how to improve the quality of CFP CE? Or does this proposal rather represent a strategic first step towards something more far reaching, like going into direct membership association competition with the FPA and NAPFA themselves?
Will the CFP Board back away from the proposal given the nearly unanimous negative feedback thus far, or will it further tip its hand in pursuing a new strategic initiative?
The Current State of CFP Continuing Education