Program areas at CFP
Enforcement of professional standards:as a condition to certification, all cfp professionals agree to abide by cfp Board's code of ethics and Standards of conduct and predecessor versions (code and Standards), which includes the practice Standards for the Financial planning process. The code and Standards became effective on october 1, 2019 with an enforcement date of june 30, 2020, replacing cfp Board's prior ethical Standards set forth in the Standards of professional conduct (Standards) booklet. Cfp Board formed a Standards resource commission (src) to develop guidance for cfp professionals and their firms regarding the code and Standards. The src began to publish guidance materials regarding the code and Standards in 2018, and its work continued throughout 2021. Cfp Board has established a fair process for enforcing cfp Board's code and Standards (and the predecessor Standards). This process is set forth in the procedural rules, which cfp Board revised effective february 21, 2022. First, cfp Board seeks to detect potential misconduct. Cfp Board receives complaints (grievances) from consumers and other individuals and conducts background checks that involve a review of brokercheck, the investment adviser public disclosure database, state insurance and securities regulatory databases, and other public records to detect potential misconduct. Cfp Board performs background checks on those seeking cfp certification, cfp professionals, and those seeking reinstatement of their cfp certification. Beginning in 2019 and continuing through 2021, cfp Board continuously reviews these public sources to detect potential misconduct by cfp professionals. In 2021, these detection efforts resulted in cfp Board staff opening 667 investigations. Second, cfp Board investigates potential misconduct. Cfp Board provides notice to those who are under investigation, identifies the general nature of the investigation, and offers them an opportunity to respond. At the conclusion of the investigation, cfp Board makes a probable cause determination as to whether grounds for sanctions exist. Cfp Board may issue a complaint that sets forth the grounds for sanctions, including a detailed factual description of the conduct and a specific statement of the alleged violation. The respondent has an opportunity to respond, to submit documents, to file motions, to produce and cross-examine witnesses, and to be represented by counsel at a hearing on the record. Cfp Board staff issues an administrative suspension or revocation when a respondent fails to respond to a complaint. Third, when a respondent responds to the complaint, cfp Board's disciplinary and ethics commission ("dec"), a peer-review body made up of cfp professionals and public members, adjudicates each matter and determines whether the respondent violated the code and Standards, and if so, what sanction is appropriate. A three-person hearing panel conducts a review or holds a hearing, considers the evidence, and recommends to the dec whether to find that a violation has occurred and whether there are grounds for sanction, and, if so, the appropriate sanction. The dec then must review de novo and accept, reject, or modify the hearing panel's findings and recommendations. A respondent has the right to appeal an adverse decision to a peer-review body, made up of cfp professionals and public members, which issues the final decision of cfp Board. The code and Standards enforcement committee of the Board of directors decides appeals filed on or before february 20, 2021, and an appeals commission decides appeals filed on february 21, 2021 or afterwards. Respondent and cfp Board counsel also may agree upon a settlement offer, in the form of a proposed consent order, which a three-person settlement review panel reviews and makes a recommendation to dec whether to accept, reject, or reject and counteroffer. The dec then must review de novo and accept, reject, or modify the settlement panel's recommendation. In 2021, the total number of final disciplinary actions taken by the dec and cfp Board staff was 186. The dec held 108 hearings or settlement offer reviews, resulting in 100 outcomes, 79 of which were disciplinary sanctions, including 2 revocations, 16 suspensions, 4 discretionary interim suspensions, 31 public censures, and 23 private censures. Cfp Board staff also issued 50 administrative revocations, 26 administrative suspensions, 4 automatic interim suspensions, 11 administrative temporary bars, 16 administrative permanent bars, and 3 orders of public censure.in addition to undertaking or supporting the activities described above, cfp Board's professional Standards & legal department also reviews, monitors and enforces cfp Board's trademark rights; provides support to the code and Standards enforcement and governance committees of the Board of directors; develops guidance resources that interpret the code and Standards; proposes revised versions of the code and Standards, procedural rules, fitness Standards, and sanction guidelines; reviews, finalizes, and enforces contracts; meets with cfp Board's business model council; and provides other legal, governance and executive leadership advice.
Communications and outreach: in 2021, cfp Board's communications and outreach included media relations, public relations, cfp professional communications, distribution of educational materials through cfp.net and letsmakeaplan.org websites, as well as other outreach tactics designed to increase and enhance awareness of cfp certification and the benefits of Financial planning. Our efforts utilized traditional and social media, cfp Board websites, direct mail and email and speaking appearances to educate and inform the public about the benefits of Financial planning and the value of the cfp professional in providing competent and ethical personal Financial planning services that is in their best interest.
Public awareness campaign: one of the cfp Board's strategic priorities is to build the public awareness of the cfp certification. In pursuit of this priority, cfp Board has developed and implemented a public awareness campaign that includes a mix of broadcast, cable and streaming television, radio, social media, online advertising, and media sponsorship. Additionally, cfp Board is maintaining and regularly updating relevant content on letsmakeaplan.org, a consumer-targeted website developed to increase the public's awareness and understanding of the value of Financial planning and how a cfp professional can help improve Financial well-being. Since its launch in 2011, our campaign has increased the awareness of cfp certification among our target audience with an overwhelming majority stating that they have heard of the designation.
Certification: there were 92,055 cfp professionals at the end of 2021, of which 5,273 were granted initial certification during the year. Successful completion of the examination, education, experience, and ethics requirements is a prerequisite to initial cfp certification. Cfp Board's certification program is accredited by an independent third-party organization, the national commission for certifying agencies (ncca), to ensure that all requirements for initial certification and renewal are consistent with best practices and Standards in the certification industry. Further, ncca requires certifying organizations to meet governance, staff qualification, Financial and resource transparency, fairness, due process, and non-discrimination Standards.
Education: the first step to cfp certification is to acquire the knowledge required to deliver professional, competent, and ethical Financial planning services to clients, as outlined in the personal Financial planning topic areas identified by cfp Board's most recent job analysis research. Cfp Board's education component requires the completion of a college-level program of study in personal Financial planning, including completion of a Financial plan development (capstone) course. The course of study is offered at 234 accredited colleges and universities in the u.s., at degree (bachelors, masters, ph.d.) and certificate levels. In 2021, cfp Board registered over 339 Financial planning programs which included review of their curriculum and faculty qualifications to ensure that the teaching and learning met established Standards. After initial certification, cfp professionals are required to complete 30 hours of continuing education ("ce") as part of the biennial renewal requirement to assure the public of continuing competency in Financial planning. Cfp Board annually registers approximately 1,096 ce sponsors, who are required to deliver high quality content developed by qualified instructors and authors, aligning with defined Financial planning topic requirements. In 2021, cfp Board reviewed and approved over 13,500 ce programs which met established requirements.
Examination: in 2021, 8,791 candidates sat for the cfp examination. The cfp certification examination assesses a candidate's ability to apply Financial planning knowledge, in an integrated format, to real-life Financial planning scenarios. The exam is developed with subject matter expertise provided by experienced cfp professionals. Under cfp Board's direction, the exam is administered by one of the world's leading testing partners and is now, since november 2014, delivered in a computer-based format. Cfp Board adheres to Standards and best practices in the high stakes testing and certification industries.
Public advocacy: one of cfp Board's core public policy objectives is to influence policy to benefit the public and to increase access to competent and ethical Financial planners. During 2021, cfp Board encouraged federal policymakers to use cfp Board's code of ethics & Standards of conduct (effective june 30, 2019) as a framework for updated Standards of conduct for personalized investment advice. Cfp Board monitored legislative and regulatory proposals related to issues involving private certification at the state and federal levels. Cfp Board engaged in conversations with policymakers and other interested parties about policies that would help more americans enjoy a financially secure future. The policy discussions were based on recommendations of the retirement issues working group. Cfp Board worked with colleagues in the Financial planning community to address issues related to state regulation of non-traditional fees for Financial planning services so that more americans have access to competent and ethical Financial planners. Cfp Board also committed to a more robust program encouraging cfp professionals to offer pro bono Financial planning services and developed a framework for the program to be implemented during the next calendar year.
Center for Financial planning: the cfp Board center for Financial planning seeks to create a more diverse and sustainable Financial planning profession so that every american has access to competent and ethical Financial planning advice. The center brings together cfp professionals, firms, educators, researchers and experts to address profession-wide challenges within three focus areas:talent pipeline: cultivating a quality workforce to ensure the Financial planning profession can recruit and retain talent to serve the public; diversity and inclusion: fostering a more diverse Financial Planner workforce that reflects the changing demographics in the united states; and knowledge for practice: elevating the discipline of Financial planning to increase the stature and recognition of Financial planning faculty and educational programs and provide practitioners with cutting-edge knowledge to thrive and provide outstanding service to the public. The center's programs are funded primarily through voluntary donations received from individual donors and corporate sponsors.