The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards is amending its regulations to shorten the time it takes to qualify for CFP certification under some circumstances.

The board is reducing the time needed to qualify for CFP certification from three years to two if the person has two years of experience providing professional financial planning service or the part-time equivalent.

The individual has to have been working under the direct superivion of a CFP professional, been providing direct financial planning services to clients and documented in writing the performance of all six steps of finandial planning process.

Currently, a candidate can apply for CFP status only after three years if he or she has met experience requirements that can include teaching or internships. These criteria still apply and a candidate can use them to fulfill the three-year requirement and gain certification.

Under the new rules, the candidate would still have to complete a course of study for financial planning and pass the CFP exam, pass a background check and agree to the CFP Board's code of ethics and professional responsibility, rules of conduct and financial planning practice standards. But applicants will also be able to meet the experience requirements before they pursue the education and examination requirements.

The new experience requirement will go into effect September 1, 2012.

The board reviews its regulations periodically and updates those it feels need changing, says Alan Goldfarb, the chairman of the board of directors. A news conference was held Thursday announcing the changes.

Bankruptcy Filings Made Public

Another change under the new rules is that CFP candidates and those already holding CFP certificates will be treated equally when it comes to bankruptcy filings. Currently, a CFP candidate who has filed for bankruptcy is required to wait five years before applying for certification. Under the new rules, the candidate can pursue certification, and the bankruptcy information will be made public as it is for CFP designees.

All bankruptcy filings will be made public on the CFP Web site and a news release will be issued four times a year listing the names of those CFP professionals who have filed.

Under the current regulations, the Board of Standards does not make a CFP's bankruptcy filings public if there is no related public action against the practitioner.

"We want to disclose any information that could reasonably be expected to affect a person's decision about hiring a financial planner," says Michael Shaw, the managing director of the CFP Board's professional standards and legal department.

The change makes more information more easily accessible to the public and treats candidates and those who already have CFP certification equally, Shaw says.

Sharing Information With Other Agencies

The board is also changing its policy for sharing information with other agencies. Currently, strict confidentiality policies restrict the CFP board from sharing information with the SEC, Finra or other regulatory bodies. Under the new rules, information can be shared when another regulatory body is conducting an investigation. The Board of Standards is working with the regulatory agencies so that they can also share information with the CFP Board.

--Karen DeMasters