Dr. Larry Barton, the president and CEO of The American College, blasted Lauren M. Schadle, who will be taking over as CEO of the Financial Planning Association, for saying there should be one designation for financial planners as the best way to build the profession.

However, 2012 FPA President, Paul Auslander, CFP, stands by her remarks.

"FPA is coalescing around one designation for the financial planning profession," Auslander says. "From our standpoint, the CFP designation is THE standard because it has the rigor of enforcement, continuing education requirements, ethics, experience -- and, as importantly, consumer confidence.

"The CFP certification is specific to financial planning and those who hold it operate under a variety of business models in order to serve many clients and their needs," he adds. "We respect Dr. Barton's views on the insurance-focused designations and we would hope he respects our views on financial planning and the CFP designation."

Barton, head one of the nation's leading educational institutions for financial service professionals, said in a press release that Schadle's remarks were ill-informed and detrimental to consumers, especially those in the middle- and lower-income brackets.

Schadle was quoted in a published report that one profession and one designation is the best way to build the financial planning profession. Schadle is taking over as chief executive of the FPA when Marvin Tuttle steps down in 2014.

"It is apparent that Ms. Schadle believes that one designation, the Certified Financial Planner designation, is a panacea for all planners. Not true," says Barton. "FPA also wants to define planning as a separate profession instead of recognizing it as the discipline it is, one used throughout financial services. The FPA already has enough challenges, and believing in a monopoly just adds to their headaches."

Since its inception in 2000, the FPA has maintained that the CFP designation should be the primary license for providers of professional advice on personal finance. FPA members have noted for a long time that the American College, which sponsors the ChFC (Chartered Financial Consultant) designation, also offers the CFP education and designation to its members. Some argue that is a concession by the American College that the CFP designation is the license of choice and that the controversy was decided a long time ago.

The FPA has been losing membership in recent years. Tuttle says it is because they have taken unpopular stands that some members disagree with.

"Consumers, whose savings and retirement plans are already anemic, must realize that fee-only planners typically charge around $2,500 just for a financial plan before they even consider purchasing any products," Barton says. "While the affluent may be able to afford a fee-only planner, there are many who work for banks, mutual fund companies, insurance companies and accounting firms who can also provide very sound planning advice."

"We want planners to have choices" for planners with different training designations," Barton says. "As Ms. Schadle assumes the helm of the FPA, it is my hope that she will think twice about isolating the hundreds of thousands of advisors who don't fit her criteria."


-Karen DeMasters