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With new standards approved, CFP Board goes to the masses

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The CFP Board's recently adopted standards present a herculean task: how to get 82,000 CFP professionals in compliance before new rules take effect.

The board's answer? Go to the people.

The CFP Board will host public forums in nearly two dozen cities over the next 16 months to explain what its new code of ethics and standards of conduct mean for tens of thousands of financial planners and others.

The recently adopted standards, which go into effect October 1, 2019, provoked heated debate among planners. The board expanded the scope of a fiduciary requirement for CFP professionals, requiring them to act in a client's best interest at all times when providing financial advice. The new standards were approved by the CFP Board's board of directors in March.

“We want all CFP professionals to have an accurate and practical understanding of the new standards by the time they become effective,” CFP Board CEO Kevin Keller said in a statement. “These public forums provide an opportunity to not just educate our stakeholders and the public, but also for us to learn what information they need to ensure they understand the standards.”

The new standards are likely to have a big impact on the industry, as the CFP designation has become a must-have for many professionals. Nearly 82,000 financial advisors and other professionals hold the designation in the U.S., according to the CFP Board.

The board's public forums, which are free and open to the public, will kick off with an initial event in Philadelphia in September and continuing through December 2019. Dates and locations for events taking place this year include:

  • Sept. 25 Evening – Philadelphia
  • Sept. 26 Morning – Baltimore
  • Sept. 26 Evening – New York
  • Sept. 27 Morning – Boston
  • Dec. 5 Evening – Miami
  • Dec. 6 Morning – Orlando
  • Dec. 6 Evening – Charlotte
  • Dec. 7 Morning – Atlanta

Dates have yet to be finalized for next year's forums, but locations will include Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle.

The FPA and NAPFA will work to promote the events, the board says.

The CFP Board also recently unveiled Merrill Lynch as a sponsor for its upcoming diversity summit. The firm, which has more than 14,000 advisors, is the leading employer of CFP professionals in the U.S. The CFP Board has placed greater emphasis on increasing the numbers of women and minorities in the profession.

African-Americans constitute about 13% of the population but a mere 6% of financial advisors, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau. Hispanics, comprise roughly 17%, while Asians make up nearly 6%. Less than one-third of advisors are women, according to the BLS.

"The financial planning profession needs to reflect the increasingly diverse American public it serves," Keller said.

The summit, to be held in New York City on Oct. 23, will focus on how the financial planning profession can better attract and retain a diverse workforce, according to the CFP Board.

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