The CFP Board of Standards may have a conflict of interest in its handling of continuing education courses, FPA President Michael A. Branham said today.
“We have concerns that there is a conflict of interest” because the board both administers and regulates continuing education for CFP certificants, Branham said at the FPA annual conference Experience 2013 in Orlando, Fla.
The FPA has created a continuing education best practices task force headed by Dan Moisand of Moisand, Fitzgerald and Tamayo LLC to look at whether the quality of continuing education programs needs to be upgraded.
"CFP Board’s Board of Directors and staff are very well aware of FPA’s concerns about the possibility of CFP Board offering continuing education. There have been many discussions between the two organizations, including a meeting of the full Board of Directors for both organizations in July dedicated to this issue," the CFP Board said.
"We are still evaluating and discussing all options and strategies to improve the quality of CE, which is something that CFP professionals overwhelmingly want," the Board added.
The potential conflict comes at a time when the CFP Board is also embroiled in another controversy over the definition of who is a "fee-only" advisor. Critics contend that the CFP Board's definition is too broad and clashes with that of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
For example, many so-called, no-load mutual fund companies pay annual 25 basis points, or 0.25%, trail commissions to advisors who invest clients' assets with them. The SEC maintains that as long as the trail commission doesn't exceed 25 basis points, advisors can call themselves fee-only. The CFP Board has disagreeed.
In a letter to certificants earlier this month, CFP Board CEO Kevin Keller welcomed feedback from CFP licensees but stated that it stands by its definition. Others have criticized the CFP Board for challenging the compensation claim of certificants who claim they run a fee-only practice but may hold an indirect interest in another commission-based entity.