The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards’ website, LetsMakeAPlan.org — where investors can look for advisors — omits client complaints about CFPs, as well as planners’ criminal or regulatory problems, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis published Monday.
The Journal article states that LetsMakeAPlan.org gives no indication “that thousands of the planners bearing the board’s seal of approval have had customer complaints or faced criminal or regulatory problems — often directly related to their work with clients.”
More than 60 have filed for bankruptcy within the past decade although the website says they haven’t disclosed such an event in the last 10 years, the Journal reported.
The LetsMakeAPlan.org site “has been presenting more than 6,300 planners without showing such problems even though the planners have disclosed them to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority,” according to the Journal analysis of more than 72,000 profiles on the website.
The paper reports that it compared data on the LetsMakeAPlan.org site against records kept by FINRA, the self-regulator of broker-dealers.
Of the planners flagged by the Journal, “more than 5,000 have faced formal complaints from their clients over investment recommendations or sales practices, and hundreds have been disciplined by financial regulators or left brokerage firms amid allegations of misconduct. At least 140 faced or currently face felony charges, including one who pleaded no contest to a charge of possessing child pornography.”
CFP Board CEO Kevin Keller was quick to respond to the Journal article, stating on LinkedIn that while the Board appreciates the Journal’s “detailed analysis,” the group is “addressing the issues raised in the article and will continue to look for ways to improve.”