Take another look at the CFP designation


In a recent article by Pat Evans (“Some advisors eschew the CFP, April 8), stockbroker Jaime Westenbarger was quoted as saying that he has not earned the Certified Financial Planner certification because “it doesn’t reflect what most people are looking for in a financial advisor.”

I and thousands of other CFP professionals and their clients would respectfully disagree. Many of Mr. Westenbarger’s comments seem out of context and are based on old models.

CFP professionals reflect what people seek in a financial advisor. Consumers want someone who makes sure the many areas of financial life (budgeting, education and retirement planning, tax planning investments and risk management) are coordinated into an overall financial strategy — a strategy based on the client’s needs and goals. People want someone who puts the client’s interest ahead of their own.

Mr. Westenbarger refers to “licensed financial advisors.” There is no such thing. There are licensed stockbrokers and licensed insurance sales people. CFP certification is about financial planning. He said “the CFP designation is sold by a company.” Not true. CFP Board is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to benefit the public by upholding CFP certification as the recognized standard of excellence for competent and ethical personal financial planning.

CFP certification is widely respected because of the rigorous education, examination, experience and ethical requirements in place to obtain and maintain the credential. And, yes, given the level of the work and responsibility, a B.A. degree is a prerequisite — that’s not a bad thing, rather a reflection of our high standards. All CFP professionals — regardless of when they became certified — are subject to disciplinary action if they have been found to have been in violation of its Professional Standards of Conduct. CFP Board views its enforcement process as a critical consumer protection.

Financial planning, when done properly, can provide great benefits for consumers; when omitted or done improperly, it can cause great harm. CFP Board is dedicated to financial planning being a recognized and regulated profession — a position that gives the public confidence in the competence and ethics it seeks in financial professionals.

Marilyn Capelli Dimitroff, CFP
President, Capelli Financial Services Inc.
Bloomfield Hills

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