I think it has made us more credible. And I think it is the future. I would suggest that the Dodd-Frank bill, which gives the SEC permissive authority to enforce a fiduciary standard for broker-dealers, came to many of the same conclusions that we did when we imposed it three years earlier.
Any other changes?
There's been more uniformity across the board in our enforcement process. We have issued sanction guidelines. The richness of the anonymous case histories has increased significantly. Michael Shaw, who runs our enforcement process, came from FINRA and has brought a steady stream of improvements to CFP Board and its enforcement process along the way.
Our objective in the enforcement process is to be fair to all of the participants and to be credible to the public. And to that end, we have added public member representation to the enforcement process and to the hearing process.
What are the next goals?
I think there are four priorities that our board of directors has set out for the future:
1. Increasing the awareness of CFP certification.
2. Growth in the number of CFP certificants.
3. Recognition and regulation of financial planning.
4. Authority - that CFP Board is viewed as the authority in issues around financial planning.
Are there specific growth numbers you've set?
We've averaged 3% to 4% growth over the last four years. If you just extend that out, that takes you to 82,000 certificants over the next five years; you could get to 100,000 without reaching double-digit growth. I think it's somewhere between those two numbers.
We started the public awareness campaign in 2011 with 17% "unaided awareness" among the target market. [Unaided awareness is the percentage of people who, if asked, "Which financial planning designations do you know of?" would answer "CFP" or "certified financial planner."] Wouldn't it be great if, in five years, a third of that market could say it without being prompted?
What are the CFP Board's plans with regard to regulation of the financial planning industry?
There was a window open during Dodd-Frank, and we had a proposal to create a financial planner oversight board. Congress wasn't ready to go there yet, and we understand that. They directed the profession and various organizations to come back and study things, and so we're continuing to work on that.
Kenneth Corbin is a writer in Washington who covers regulatory affairs for Financial Planning.