The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards is revising its website information on how advisors are paid, according to Kevin R. Keller, CEO of the CFP Board.

Some advisors and financial thought leaders objected when the board removed a website tool in March that let consumers search for an advisor based on whether the advisor was paid by fees, commissions or a combination of the two.

The board now is revising that feature to provide compensation information in a different form that is part of a complete website redesign currently taking place. The new site will be launched in two phases. The compensation information will be part of the second phase to be ready after Jan. 1, Keller said today via email. The CFP Board website is and it allows consumers to search for an advisor based on various criteria.

Some advisors and consumers view fee-only compensation for advisors as the best way to eliminate conflicts of interest versus commission payments based on products that are sold. The board has had continuing problems with defining and describing advisors based on how they're paid.

“To effectively integrate CFP Board’s revised Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct—including the expanded application of the fiduciary duty—the Board of Directors re-evaluated its handling of compensation representation information,” Keller said, adding that the board does not weigh in on the question of which compensation method is better.

Keller noted that only 7% of all searches on the “Find Your CFP Professional Tool” requested compensation method information, contrary to the perception that compensation is the primary tool used by consumers.

Former CFP Board chair Susan John, who voted for removing the compensation search tool earlier this year, said at the time that CFP professionals have to act as fiduciaries and provide clients with detailed compensation information. CFP professionals must also disclose how they, their firm and any related parties are compensated for providing products and services, which negates the need for a compensation search tool.

On the other hand, Michael Kitces, head of planning strategy at Buckingham Strategic Wealth, a financial industry thought leader and frequent critic of the CFP Board, in March spoke out against the CFP Board's stance and said removing the search tool would "force consumers to dig into advisor disclosures instead.”

Meanwhile, the National Association of Personal Financial Planners in March said In a letter sent to the CFP Board that visits to Napfa's "Find an Advisor" search platform validate that consumers are interested in—and value searching for—a planner with an eye toward compensation. "By making this change and removing that capability [from the CFP Board website], the CFP Board is essentially saying that all compensation models are the same [and] thus doing the public a disservice,” Napfa said in its letter.

In response to these comments, Keller said, “We have a role in shaping the consumer dialogue, and that dialogue should focus on whether the professional is committed to acting as a fiduciary, not whether the professional is fee-only. Every CFP professional has made a commitment to CFP Board to act as a fiduciary, at all times, when providing financial advice to a client.

“We know that CFP professionals get paid by their clients in a variety of ways, and we will be clarifying these payment methods on our new website,” he added. “CFP Board research shows that consumers don’t have strong knowledge about how financial advice is paid. They have a desire to understand more about how they would pay for financial planning services. We believe the best way for consumers to select their financial advisor is to have a conversation with their prospective advisor.”