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FPA President James Lee

Regulation and Compliance > Federal Regulation

FPA Steps Up Fight for Legal Protection of ‘Financial Planner’ Title

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The Financial Planning Association will hold a series of events in the first half of 2023 to engage members and other stakeholders on one of its top advocacy goals: title protection.

During a town hall held Tuesday, FPA’s 2023 president, James Lee, explained that title protection “is the legal recognition of the title ‘financial planner’ by state and/or federal policymakers. Other established professions like medicine and law are recognized by state or federal statute. You can’t call yourself a doctor or a lawyer without meeting certain standards that are required by law.”

Unfortunately, Lee said, “the same is not true for financial planners today. Anyone can call themselves a financial planner without meeting any standards whatsoever. We believe this is wrong.”

Last July, FPA’s board announced that it would pursue the legal recognition of financial planners through title protection.

Doing so, according to Lee, “will enable consumers to identify and engage with a qualified financial planner without creating any unnecessary regulatory burden for those who use the title.”

Title protection, he explained, “is rooted in four pillars” — title usage, professional competency, consumer protection and professional advancement, adding that it “will distinguish financial planners from other financial service providers leveraging the term financial planner.”

Lee hopes that title protection “will establish threshold standards for financial planners without creating an unnecessary regulatory burden for those meeting standards. Anyone proclaiming to be a financial planner must meet the necessary threshold standards for competency and ethics.”

Furthermore, Lee said, title protection “will enable consumers to identify and engage with a qualified financial planner for comprehensive financial planning services.”

Financial planning “has yet to achieve the same level of recognition of other honorable professions, including medicine, law and accounting,” Lee added. “This is a critical step in the recognition of financial planning as a distinct essential profession dedicated to the betterment of society.”

Achieving title protection is a “long-term objective” for FPA, Lee conceded, and “will require time and patience to achieve.” FPA will engage “in stakeholder outreach to understand your views,” he said.

Pictured: FPA President James Lee


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