“If federal and/or state policymakers continue to leave ‘financial planner’ undefined, some will take liberties with the title, even if they are not providing financial planning services,” the FPA said in its release. “Title protection will establish minimum standards for financial planners without creating an unnecessary regulatory burden for those meeting the standards.”

The association added that because the profession is young, it doesn’t get the same degree of name recognition afforded medicine, law and accounting.

“Presently, there are no minimum standards for competency and ethics for those professing to be financial planners,” said Dennis Moore, the FPA’s 2022 president, in a statement. “Some credentialing bodies have their own prescribed standards, but policymakers have established nothing at the state or federal level.”

“Our thinking is to approach this legislatively,” Mahoney said Financial Advisor. “But we’re not touching licensing, we’re not touching regulation, per se. This is just documenting, wherever we need to, the phrase ‘financial planner’ and giving it the title and protection it deserves. Members, I will run into them and they’ll say, ‘I do everything I’m supposed to do. I adhere to all the ethics requirements. I adhere to good standards, I keep up to date on my competencies. … I do a good job for my clients, and that person down the street doesn’t do any of that and they still call themselves a financial planner. Help me protect my ability to make a living as a planner.’ This has been brewing for a long time.”

The FPA currently has 19,000 members, Mahoney said.

Michael Kitces, a co-founder of the XY Planning Network and frequent FPA critic, said in a series of Twitter posts today that the FPA’s announcement was good news, though he noted the association’s lack of specificity about who it was going to lobby and when and how and what yardsticks the association would be using to bestow the name “financial planner” on any given professional. The XY Planning Network itself notably took the battle to the SEC in a petition last year.

Last September, the network filed two petitions asking the SEC to reconsider a rule it proposed in 2007 about financial planning titles and the automatic triggering of fiduciary investment advisor registration. The network also called on regulators “to modernize Section 208(c) of the Advisers Act and better define in today’s environment what constitutes ‘investment counsel’ services that would necessitate not just registration as an investment advisor but a requirement to principally be in the business of advice in order to market one’s services as such.”

Said Kitces on Twitter today: “Notably, FPA isn't staking ground to pursue w/ the SEC ... at least, not yet(?) … Instead, ‘Title Protection’ will simply top their advocacy agenda, and begin exploring viable state or federal paths, w/ goal of ‘not creating unnecessary regulatory burden.’

“However, in the end ‘title protection’ almost inevitably requires some regulator to license the term (so those not eligible are restricted from using it), and some regulator to enforce it (so standards and their regulatory burden are inevitable). Some regulation is ‘inevitable’?"

He also noted that the FPA was silent about making the CFP marks the benchmark for the “financial planner” title, even though the association is a membership for CFPs. “Is FPA really considering some other/additional designation to rally around?”

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