The CFP Board has extended its Lets Make a Plan advertising campaign by two years, citing better-than-expected results in raising public awareness of the CFP brand.
The news was announced in a "business update" webinar for CFP certificants. The event, which immediately followed a board meeting, marked the first public address to CFP holders by the boards directors since a controversy arose in September over fee-only claims by wirehouse advisors on the CFP Board's website. The campaign urges members of the public to find CFPs by searching their profiles on the site.
Absent from the discussion, however, was any response to allegations that the board has been mismanaging the designation, engaging in a selective disciplinary process and making fiduciary promises to the public that it cannot guarantee. During the webinar, two future board chairs expressed support for Kevin Keller, the boards chief executive, and the ongoing campaign.
As a member of the board, we are very thankful to the staff for following the boards direction to put together this successful campaign, said Richard Rojeck, who is slated to become chair in 2015. Raymond Ferrara, who will chair the board in 2014, and Keller also participated.
QUESTIONS FROM PLANNERS
Over the course of Friday's webinar, the three officials responded to several questions from CFP holders, who were identified only by first name.
It was not clear whether the questions were pre-selected or submitted during the webinar. The closest any came to addressing the controversy were questions pertaining to the CFP Boards definition of the term fee-only.
We think that our definition of fee-only is clear, is common sense. Its plain English, Rojeck said in response to one. But we understand that that the complexity of different business models doesnt always make it easy to determine how to characterize compensation with a simple label.
Rojeck indicated that the board will continue to use the definition that it adopted in 2007. He urged any practitioners with questions about how to use the term to email the board at Standards@cfpboard.org.
The board also cited research showing that the public awareness campaign -- for which the board more than doubled annual fees from CFP holders -- has increased awareness of the CFP brand among some mass affluent investors by seven percentage points. That's three points more than the four-point increase it had been seeking, Keller said: So, some impressive results.
Keller also praised the board for generating significant positive coverage in the consumer media about CFP holders.
He pointed to numerous instances in which national general interest publications have quoted CFPs, including many of the boards "ambassadors" -- CFP advisors who volunteer to represent the boards interests in a variety of capacities. If we tried to buy the coverage, Keller said, we estimate that it would have cost us $35 million.
Tina Florence, a former member of the boards disciplinary commission who has since been privately sanctioned for an alleged compensation disclosure violation, says she listened to portions of the webinar but found it disappointing.
Its almost like the board is in denial and Im not sure that that is a healthy response, Florence says. It sounded like nothing had ever happened.
Florence is one of several advisors, mainly from smaller firms, who was sanctioned by the board while the wirehouse advisors' claims went unpunished. Two advisors have sued the board over a similar issue; Florence has called on the board to reverse the sanction in her case and reimburse the money she spent to defend herself.
There are a lot of us who were hoping, with the new chair coming in, that they would have taken responsibility and shown us how they were going to clean it up," she says. "I didnt hear that."
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