are invoiced and pay on an annual
basis — is 96% to 97%.
Since I arrived, we’ve grown from
about 54,000 to almost 67,000. We’re
up 22% in five years. Think about that:
In the toughest economy in three generations, we’ve grown the number of
CFP certificants over that period. I think
that speaks to the value perceived.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about the CFP credential?
If there’s one misconception that I’d
like to address, it’s how hard it is to
become certified. It’s certainly not
easy. But I believe in some ways the
folks who already have become certified perpetuate the mystique about
how difficult it is.
providing financial planning services or
material elements of the financial planning process. And so in the enforcement process, [our] disciplinary and
ethics commission has to determine
whether they were actually providing
financial planning services or not.
I think it has made us more credible.
And I think it is the future. I would suggest that the Dodd-Frank bill, which
gives the SEC permissive authority to
enforce a fiduciary standard for broker-dealers, came to many of the same
conclusions that we did when we
imposed it three years earlier.
Any other changes?
There’s been more uniformity across
the board in our enforcement process.
3. Recognition and regulation of
4. Authority — that CFP Board
is viewed as the authority in issues
around financial planning.
Are there specific growth numbers
We’ve averaged 3% to 4% growth over
the last four years. If you just extend
that out, that takes you to 82,000 certificants over the next five years; you
could get to 100,000 without reaching
double-digit growth. I think it’s somewhere between those two numbers.
We started the public awareness
campaign in 2011 with 17% “unaided
awareness” among the target market.
[Unaided awareness is the percent-
Our objective of the CFP Board’s enforcement process is to be fair to all
of the participants and to be credible to the public.
There are things we could do. A lot of
people enter the educational program
and never even sit for the exam. We
could help them through the process.
How would you approach that?
We’re still looking at ways [to help]
once people enter the pipeline — from
when they first request information
about becoming certified until we get
them out the other end, where they’ve
passed the exam. We’re seeking to
define the pipeline, help more people
get out the other end and work with
the Financial Planning Association and
NAPFA and other organizations to provide a more clearly defined career path.
Since the fiduciary requirement
was adopted in July 2008, how has
It has changed the way our enforce-
ment team looks at cases. The fiduciary
standard applies when a certificant is
We have issued sanction guidelines.
The richness of the anonymous case
histories has increased significantly.
Michael Shaw, who runs our enforcement process, came from FINRA
and has brought a steady stream of
improvements to CFP Board and its
enforcement process along the way.
Our objective in the enforcement
process is to be fair to all of the participants and to be credible to the public. And to that end, we have added
public member representation to the
enforcement process and to the hearing process.
What are the next goals?
I think there are four priorities that our
board of directors has set out for the
1. Increasing the awareness of CFP
2. Growth in the number of CFP
age of people who, if asked, “Which
financial planning designations do
you know of?” would answer “CFP” or
“certified financial planner.”] Wouldn’t
it be great if, in five years, a third of
that market could say it without being
What are the CFP Board’s plans with
regard to regulation of the financial
There was a window open during
Dodd-Frank, and we had a proposal
to create a financial planner oversight
board. Congress wasn’t ready to go
there yet, and we understand that.
They directed the profession and vari-
ous organizations to come back and
study things, and so we’re continuing
to work on that. FP
Kenneth Corbin is a writer in Washington who covers regulatory affairs
for Financial Planning.