Have you received a Notice of Investigation or a Complaint from the CFP Board? Or have you received a notice of Presumptive Bar as a CFP Candidate?
If so, an experienced CFP Board defense attorney can help maximize your chances of retaining the right to use the hard-earned and valuable CFP marks by: (1) developing your factual defenses, (2) researching CFP Board rules and prior decisions to develop legal defenses, (3) drafting responses to the CFP Board's requests for documents and information, (4) drafting Answers to Complaints or Petitions for Consideration for Candidates, and (5) handling a CFP Board Disciplinary Hearing on your behalf. A skilled securities regulatory attorney can also provide valuable advice on the underlying matter that triggered the CFP Board's scrutiny, whether it's a customer complaint, an investor arbitration, an investor lawsuit, an employment termination, a criminal charge, or a Finra or SEC investigation, sanction, suspension or settlement.
CFP Board Investigations
Financial professionals who are permitted by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. to use the CFP® and the Certified Financial Planner® marks are subject to the CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility and Rules of Conduct. Also subject are candidates for CFP certification. Under its Disciplinary Rules and Procedures, the CFP Board may conduct investigations into conduct by certificants, and candidates for certification, that may violate the organization’s rules. Violations can subject certificants and candidates to several form of discipline, including private censure, a public letter of admonition, suspension of the right to use the marks for up to five years or permanent revocation of the right to use the marks.
CFP Board investigations are triggered by a number of sources including customer arbitrations, criminal matters, regulatory actions by the SEC, CFTC, FINRA and state regulators, bankruptcies, employment terminations, requests from other certificants and anonymous tips. The process begins when the CFP Board sends a Notice of Investigation. The CFP Board will explain the general allegations made, which are often a recitation of allegations made by a customer, a regulator or a prosecutor. The certificant is provided an opportunity to file a written response to the allegations. After reviewing the response, the CFP Board may decide to issue a Complaint against the certificant setting forth the grounds for possible discipline. The certificant must respond in writing by filing an Answer, much like in a lawsuit or regulatory action. The CFP Board then allows certain types of discovery - the CFP Board will, for example, provide copies of documentary evidence it has concerning the allegations.
The CFP Board rules provide for a hearing before a three-member panel of the Ethics Committee of the CFP Board. The hearing is like a mini-trial, with the CFP Board represented by CFP Board staff counsel. The CFP Board staff counsel and the certificant may make opening statements, offer evidence, and cross examine any witnesses offered. Within thirty days of the hearing, the CFP Board will issue a written decision that may close the matter without action or may issue the sanctions mentioned above. These decisions are published on the CFP Board’s website. Candidates and certificant may be represented by counsel throughout this process, from the opening of the investigation, through the hearing and any appeals.
Candidates for CFP Certification
Candidates for CFP certification may receive a Notice of Presumptive Bar, indicating that the candidacy has been denied, usually because of a past investor arbitration, Finra, SEC or state securities regulatory action, criminal charges or convictions, employment terminations or bankruptcies. If a candidacy is denied, the candidate will often be permittd to file a Petition for Consideration, in which the candidate explains in writing why the candidate should not be denied. The Petition for Consideration will typically include both factual and legal arguments in favor of the candidate, as well as letters of recommendation and other materials in support of the candidacy. The candidate is typically entitled to a hearing before a Hearing Panel of the CFP's Board's Disciplinary and Ethics Committee, where the candidate is permitted to appear with counsel. After the hearing, Candidates for certification can have their candidacy denied, as well as face private censure, public admonition or a period of suspension.
If you are a CFP certificant, or a candidate for certification, you have worked hard to earn the right to use the valuable CFP marks. Having an experienced regulatory attorney can help you address the allegations, develop legal and factual arguments, and maximize your chances of retaining the right to use the marks. A regulatory attorney can also provide advice and assistance concerning any underlying matter, whether it is a customer complaint, an arbitration, a lawsuit, or an investigation or administrative action by the SEC, FINRA or state securities regulators. Give Bartell Law a call, Jeremy will be happy to provide a free consultation.