Blaine Aikin, who last month took over as chairman of the board of directors of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc., has a few things on his to-do list before his one-year term expires. Among the initiatives, he says, is developing new standards of professional conduct for CFP designees.

The review of existing standards and adoption of changes will take several months, and entail a series of public hearings across the country this winter. The board’s Commission on Standards, created last year to conduct the review process, will make recommendations to the board on changes that are needed.

Aikin cannot say what changes may be proposed. The last review of the standards took place in 2009.

In a press statement, Richard Rojeck, who preceded Aikin as board chair, said, “CFP Board’s professional standards are at the core of CFP certification. This review, [to be] conducted after CFP Board receives input from the public, and finalized only after stakeholders have had an ample opportunity to comment on the proposed changes, will ensure that CFP Board’s standards continue to be the benchmark for excellence in financial planning.”

In an interview, Aikin says he acknowledged there is an uncertain political and regulatory environment that will challenge advisors during 2017 in ways that they cannot control. But there are areas where the board can impact advisors directly. “We want to push ahead, setting high standards for CFP professionals for those things that are under our control,” he says.

Aikin says the CFP Board will focus on working with other organizations such as the Financial Planning Association and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors to help CFP professionals through an expected turbulent year. The three organizations make up the Financial Planning Coalition.

The CFP Board, which is criticized by some designees and former designees as being too authoritarian or arbitrary, nevertheless grew to 75,000 designees last year and will work to push that number higher this year. The board’s Center for Financial Planning was created in part to increase diversity in the financial planning field by bringing in more young people, people of color and women.
The goals of the center will be actively pursued this year, Aikin says.

The new chairman says he will promote what the board calls the Four A’s: awareness of the CFP designation; access to financial planning by consumers; accountability to board standards; and the authority of the board to set standards and certify planners.

The television, radio and digital advertising campaign undertaken by the board previously to raise public awareness about the CFP designation will resume in February, says board spokesman Dan Drummond.

Aikin is currently the executive chairman of fi360, which administers the Accredited Investment Fiduciary and Accredited Investment Fiduciary Analyst designations. fi360 also helps financial professionals meet fiduciary standards. Aikin joined fi360 in 2005 as the chief knowledge officer, became CEO in 2007, and was named executive chairman in 2015. Before joining fi360, he was the director of product development and management at PNC Bank and the chief investment officer of Allegiance Financial Advisors. He also served in the U.S. Treasury and in the office of U.S. Senator John Heinz.