FPA Chairman Paul Auslander questions whether the type of compensation a financial advisor receives should be considered as a major factor when a consumer selects an advisor.
"If you go into a doctor's office, you know he will be paid. In order to judge his competence, you want to know where he went to school and his credentials," he said.
Auslander's comments referred to the continuing controversy over the definition of 'fee-only' advisors and who can qualify for that designation. Auslander and FPA President Michael A. Branham briefly addressed the issue at the FPA annual convention in Orlando, Fla., Experience 2013 on Sunday.
An advisor's experience and knowledge should be more important than how he is paid, Auslander said.
Auslander and Branham said the fact that the controversy is continuing after several months has the potential of hurting the profession in the eyes of the public.
Harold Evensky, a former CFP Board chairman and a leader in the financial planning profession, said he feels the issue devolves into a battle between fee only and commissions, which are seen as good and bad, which is wrong.
"There is nothing wrong with commissions," said Evensky, who is attending the conference. "I started out receiving commissions and I was ethical." He added that the CFP Board has a right to define fee-only and what is needed is clarity and understanding on the public's part.
"I think education of the public is answer," he added.
FPA President-Elect Janet Stanzak said the controversy is an example of growing pains of a relatively new profession.
The FPA supports the CFP Board of Standards call for a broad discussion of the issue, the leaders said.