The Dodd-Frank Act is having a ripple effect beyond financial advisors in the United States to those around the world who want to establish a universal, industry ethical standard, says the CEO of the international Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB).
Terms such as "fiduciary responsibility," "industry standard" and "best interests of the client," frequently used today among certified financial planners in the U.S., are also becoming commonplace parlance among CFPs around the globe, said Noel Maye, CEO of the FPSB during a media conference call held in Washington, D.C., this morning.
"There is one theme that is being carried around the world, and it's a renewed focus on consumer protection," Maye said. "And that is starting to provide the conversations quite a lot. It's now conversation that's a combination of rules and principles, under the umbrella of consumer protection. We're all resonating in the same space.''
The FPSB operates a financial planner certification program in 24 territories around the world, including the United States.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards CEO Kevin Keller, also on the conference call, said CFPs here in the U.S. want to create an industry code of ethics and professional standards, based on responses from a 2009 CFP Board job analysis survey.
"Certified financial planners here in the U.S. know the importance of practicing within professional and regulatory guidelines and the emphasis on putting the clients' interests first," Keller said.
Maye says the FPSB will help facilitate that regulatory dialogue among financial planners globally by today launching "Financial Planet," a Web site (www.financialplanet.org) that will serve as the "global gathering place of the financial profession."
"We're inviting people to start a conversation about (financial) professionalism," Maye said. "We want to create a space where people can go and say, 'Here's what happening in terms of what I think is needed for our profession.'"
Topics to be discussed at this week's FPSB annual fall meeting are: The future of the global financial planning profession; various regulatory reforms going on across the world; and establishing financial planning recognized as a distinct profession, Maye said.
According to the FPSB's Global Job Analysis survey released today, the number of certified financial planners is expanding rapidly outside the U.S., with emerging-market countries drawing younger and more women candidates to the profession.
According to the survey, an estimated 53% of CFP professionals have been certified in just the last five years, with almost 10% certified in past year.
"We have got a lot of newcomers," said Maye. "This is a very positive sign that there is a lot of momentum coming to financial planning and CFP certification around the world."
The FPSB online survey was conducted from November 2009 to March 2011. An estimated 11,150 CFP professionals from 11 territories responded to the 250-question survey, Maye said.
While the overall majority of CFP professionals overseas are male, in developing countries such as China an estimated 56% of CFP professionals are women. Other newly established markets include Malaysia and Brazil, according to the survey.
"As we take financial planning CFP certification into new countries, we're seeing a very positive trend that significant portions of new markets are made up of women," Maye said.
"We think that there is an opportunity for really serving that market and getting more people interested in financial services," he said.
On average most certified financial planners around the world are middle aged, between the ages of 35 and 44, according to the FPSB survey. In contrast, in China, the majority of certified financial planners are between 25 and 34 years old.
"You can see a young and emerging profession there," Maye said. "While in more mature markets you can see that the majority are more middle-aged."
Globally, CFP professionals are well educated, says the survey, with an estimated 90% holding a college degree or higher. In China, all CFP professionals have earned a minimum of a bachelor's degree, and in South Africa more than 50% hold graduate degrees.
The number of certified financial planners worldwide will hit the 140,000 mark by year end, including 64,000 CFPs in the U.S., Maye said.
- Jim McConville