Maybe I’m just getting old, but it sure seems to me that much of the “news” we see these days is spun more than ever. When a public figure who enjoys the support of a particular reporter or news outlet does something “questionable,” the story often focuses on how someone else they don’t like had a hand in it. Or they run story about a historical figure in a similar position who did something even dumber. Or they simply ignore the story altogether and run a picture of their man or woman talking to a group of school children. Despite my growing sensitivity to how our news is being managed, I have to admit to being impressed with a recent bit of clever spin applied by the CFP Board.
The occasion for this favorable impression was a “Message from the CEO,” released Oct. 15, with the CEO in question being Kevin Keller of the CFP Board. Not surprisingly, Mr. Keller was addressing the recent controversy over the Board’s enforcement of when and how CFPs can apply the descriptor “fee-only.” His Message included a recap of a recently released “Disclosure Guide,” a recent webinar to review its fee-only rules and a “Notice” mailed to CFPs “encouraging” them to “carefully review the accuracy of their compensation disclosures.”
Mr. Keller went on to point out that the “Board’s current standards were developed through a long and deliberate process,” and that the Board “must remain committed to the goal of providing the public with clear and transparent information about how clients pay for the services they receive from CFPs.”
Nothing particularly controversial here, at least if you ignore comments by some of the CFPs that I’ve talked to about the “clarity” of the Board’s compensation disclosure “training.” Or the reference to “how clients pay for services,” when the Board’s standards focus on how CFPs get paid. But here’s the good part as Mr. Keller went on to describe the current situation:
“As many of you may know, our compensation disclosure rules and definitions have been the subject of recent articles and commentaries… …Some have suggested that our rules and definitions are too strict; others say that we are not enforcing our rules aggressively enough; and still others say that we are too aggressive in our enforcement.”
Note the impressive spin here? If “some” say the Board is “too aggressive,” while others say it’s not “aggressive enough,” that sure sounds as if the Board has found the middle ground, doesn’t it? Even better, despite the critics who say the Board’s rules and definitions are “too strict,” gosh darn it, Mr. Keller and the Board are sticking to their mission to protect the public. Nicely done, Mr. Keller.