In dismissing Jeffrey and Kimberly Camarda’s case against the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Judge Richard J. Leon of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the CFP Board “followed its own rules throughout the disciplinary proceedings” against the Camardas.
In the just-unsealed opinion, Leon also states that the court found “no evidence that [CFP Board] was motivated by bad faith or ill will” in disciplining the Camardas.
Accordingly, the court rejected the Camardas’ breach of contract claim against CFP Board, as well as their claims that CFP Board unfairly competed against them and engaged in false advertising by stating that it fairly enforces its disciplinary rules.
“This is a significant victory for CFP certification, for CFP Board and for CFP professionals,” said Richard P. Rojeck, chair of the Board of Directors for CFP Board. “It affirms the integrity of the CFP certification and CFP Board’s role as the standard-setting body for personal financial planners. CFP Board’s peer-review disciplinary process is both fair and equitable, and allows CFP professionals to determine when one of their peers has violated CFP Board’s Rules of Conduct.”
As a result of the court’s decision, Rojeck stated that “the public will be protected because CFP professionals will continue to be held accountable when their peers have found that they deserve to be sanctioned for their conduct.”
“This decision benefits our CFP professionals, but is especially important for the American consumers they serve,” added Kevin Keller, CFP Board’s CEO. “CFP Board’s enforcement of its Standards, along with its rigorous education, exam and experience requirements, underpins its reputation as the highest standard in financial advice. Our rules and disciplinary process provide assurances to the public that CFP professionals can be held accountable for their commitment to deliver financial planning services with fiduciary accountability, transparency and competency.”
But Brian Hamburger, CEO of MarketCounsel, says that with the judge’s ruling “in the same way that driving is a privilege and not a right, CFP certificants should now be on notice that, when they click through those terms and conditions, they hand a set of keys to their career over to the CFP Board.”
He adds, “It’s those terms and conditions of certification to which certificants agree to comply with the CFP Board’s standards of professional conduct, including its code of ethics and professional responsibility, rules of conduct, practice standards, and disciplinary rules and procedures. If certificants don’t agree or understand with them, their recourse is to give up their use of the CFP mark well before any inquiry or dispute ensues. And that’s because nobody, not even a federal court, is going to second-guess the CFP Board’s decisions so long as they follow their own, private due process.”
The Camardas sued in June 2013 to block the CFP Board’s public letter of admonition, as well as for their legal costs and for business damages they claimed had resulted from the publicity generated by the case.
— Related commentary: