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CFP Board to Seek More Comments on Conduct Standards

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The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards said Wednesday that it will issue for public comment a second draft of proposed revisions to its Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct, which set forth the ethical standards for CFP professionals.

The 30-day public comment period will begin on Jan. 2, 2018, and end on Feb. 2.

The Board of Directors decided to issue the second comment period at its November meeting after reviewing input provided on the original draft that was issued on June 20.

CFP Board received more than 1,300 public comments before the comment period closed on Aug. 21.

The Commission on Standards and Board of Directors made changes to the original draft of the revised Code and Standards in response to comments from individuals, organizations and firms.

CFP Board of Directors Chair Blaine Aikin said Wednesday at the Schwab Impact conference in Chicago that it will release a revised version of the proposed Code and Standards before Christmas. “An annotated version and side-by-side comparison document also will be issued at that time,” the Board said.

During a panel discussion at Schwab Impact, Aikin said that “meaningful changes” were made to the proposed standards but wouldn’t go into detail about the changes. (Aikin said in early October that he expected “meaningful changes” to the proposed modifications of its Standards of Professional Conduct.)

He did confirm that the cornerstone principle associated with the proposal — that the fiduciary obligation would be required anytime advice is given — would be in the revised version.

“A very cornerstone principle was the idea that advice requires fiduciary obligation,” Aikin told reporters at Schwab Impact. “CFP Board was out there in front of that issue years ago when we established an obligation to act as a fiduciary when doing financial planning. We wanted to be stong in this circumstance to broaden that to whenever advice is involved. That core principle will be involved with what is coming out in the revised version.”

Aikin suggested that more “practical issues” would see revisions in the second draft. He told reporters that there were several comments the Board recieved that made it consider revisions — “ranging from a better way to say something to we found in certain areas there were misinterpretations of what the guidance proposal said.”

The Board of Directors announced that it intends to issue the final Code and Standards before the end of the first quarter of 2018. 

Pending the outcome of the second comment period, the CFP Board said that it plans for the final Code and Standards to have an effective date of Jan. 1, 2019.

The second round of feedback “will further increase the value and relevance of the CFP certification — for those who hold the mark and the consumers who rely on CFP professionals to provide ethical and competent financial advice,” according to Aikin.

Aikin hasn’t ruled out that there would be additional changes following this second comment period.

“We feel like a 30-day period makes sure we get additional input on the changes that were made and yet be ample given the intensity and thoroughness of the process over the past two years,” he said.

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