The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. has revoked the right of a financial planner to use the CFP mark for allegedly misusing the term "fee only" in his description of his compensation, the CFP Board announced recently.
The revocation was among several revocations and suspensions of the right to use the CFP mark that the board announced for a variety of violations of CFP regulations.
The controversy over the use of the fee-only designation has been ongoing for several years. A Florida financial planning couple, Jeffrey and Kimberly Camarda, is suing the board for threatening to take disciplinary action against them for using the fee-only designation. The couple also owns an insurance agency that accepts commissions, which the board says disqualifies them from claiming to be fee only for their financial planning business. The Camardas contend they did everything they could to try to resolve the problem before the board took action.
The fee-only controversy got to the point where former CFP Board Chairman Alan Goldfarb resigned from his position after the board accused him of misusing the fee-only title because he owned 1 percent of his firm’s broker-dealer.
In the most recent case, the board revoked the right of Joseph M. Browne of Jacksonville, Fla., to use the CFP mark for failing to answer the CFP Board complaint against him in a timely manner. The board complaint charged Browne misrepresented his compensation method as fee-only to clients and prospective clients on the CFP Board’s Find a CFP Professional search tool because he is entitled to receive commissions as compensation for his individual insurance sales and his employer is compensated by commissions from the sale of insurance products.
Browne called the action against him an inquisition, but he adds that the action does not really matter to him and his clients. “I have never gotten a referral from the CFP Find a Professional website. There are more important things the CFP Board should be doing than this,” Browne says.
Browne said he was told he could appeal the ruling but he would have to pay a $1,500 fee and would have to travel to Washington in order to do so, which he did not want to do.
The CFP Board does not comment on disciplinary action beyond what is released when the action is taken, says Daniel F. Drummond, CFP Board spokesman. The board reviews information on the Find a CFP Professional webpage to see if there are inconsistencies with public information, Ray Ferrara, chair of the CFP board of directors, said in a notice to CFP professionals a year ago.