As everyone in the planning industry knows, clients are routinely duped by advisors who are either outright frauds or simply less than ethical operators.

Now a new set of CFP Board TV ads aims to make the point that clients can protect themselves by choosing a CFP certificant.

The ads -- which represent the next phase of the board's public awareness campaign -- feature a model and DJ named Azmyth Kaminski; in the ads, he dresses in suit and tie (and shears his blond dreadlocks) to fool unwitting clients into thinking he’s a financial advisor.

“If they’re not a CFP pro, you just don’t know,” a voiceover proclaims in the reality TV-style reveal, as Kaminski shows his new "clients" a video of his DJ performance.

TAX SEASON CAMPAIGN

The 15- and 30-second spots are scheduled to air through tax time, along with print, radio and online versions, and then resume again early next year, said Tom Crowder, the board’s managing director for marketing and business development.

The board launched its $36 million national campaign to raise the public’s knowledge of the CFP mark in 2011; initial promotions included public radio spots, digital advertising and other TV and print ads.

The campaign is budgeted at $10 million a year going forward, Crowder said; it will run indefinitely, he added, as long as surveys indicate it is raising levels of consumer awareness of the CFP mark.

The campaign is directed at clients with $100,000 to $1 million in investable assets, between the ages of 35 and 64, Crowder said, and CFP holders can customize the ads for their website.

PAST CRITICISM

In the past, the board has faced criticism for promising consumers that all CFP holders are fiduciaries -- even though many CFPs, especially those who work for big firms and are not RIAs, are only required legally to uphold a lesser suitability standard. "CFP professionals owe the client the duty of care of fiduciary as defined by CFP Board when providing financial planning or material elements of financial planning," says board spokesman Dan Drummond.

Financial Planning uncovered last year that the board was allowing advisors to call their practices fee-only even if they worked for large firms that generate revenue through commissions, such as wirehouses, insurance companies and independent broker-dealers. The board has since put a halt to those violations and offered an amnesty to most rulebreakers.

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