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CFP Board to Update Professional Conduct Standards

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The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards announced Wednesday that it has formed a diverse commission of practitioners and industry leaders to propose changes to the Board’s entire Standards of Professional Conduct, which includes its code of etchics, rules of conduct, practice standards and terminology.

Chaired by 2014 CFP Board Chairman Ray Ferrara, the 12-member commission will include Robert Plaze, the former SEC official; Barbara Roper of the Consumer Federation of America, former National Association of Personal Financial Planners chair Diahann Lassus and Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Allison Bishop.

CFP Board Chairman Rich Rojeck said in an interview Tuesday that the “very well-qualified” commission will take all of 2016 “and maybe beyond” to make its recommendations. The Board, vowed CEO Kevin Keller in the same interview, was “committed to doing this” in a “transparent, open deliberative” manner that would take into account the opinions of “all the stakeholders,” including the public, who will be invited to comment in a series of nine public forums to be held across the country starting in late January through late February.

The commission reflects the “diversity of business model, race, gender, geography” of CFP certificants, Keller said. Following those forums and public input, the commission will meet to make recommended changes to the Board, which will finalize and publish the proposed changes and request further comment if necessary, and will eventually publish the new standards with an implementation date.

The Board’s practice standards were last updated in 2007, and Keller said “one of the big complaints then was that we didn’t listen, that we were in an ivory tower.” This time around, he said, “We don’t want to repeat what we did” the last time.

When asked why the Board was taking this action now, Rojeck said there was “no specific catalyst,” though he expects the commission to be “looking at the regulatory landscape” and that he expects the “commissioners will bring their own expertise” to the process.

“The world has changed” since 2007, Keller said, noting that then there was “no Dodd-Frank,” for instance. “We need all the stakeholders” to be involved in the standards review process “to make it work.”

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