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How Important are Ethics and Standards? Just Ask a CFP Professional

By Noel Maye, CEO, Financial Planning Standards Board

At the global meeting of Financial Planning Standards Board in Washington, D.C. last month, we released “The Global Practice of Financial Planning,” an international research report that highlights the results of a ground-breaking study on the global practice of financial planning. The research, based on a survey of 11,147 CFP professionals in 11 countries and territories, told us what tasks, knowledge and skills CFP professionals considered the most important and applicable in their everyday practices. FPSB conducted this global research to validate our standards and requirements for the global CFP certification program, and to develop a global set of test specifications to guide the development of exams and education courses. But the study also gave us a glimpse into understanding the current practices and expectations of CFP professionals, with some interesting results.

Ethics and Client-Centric Behavior Rated as Most Important and Applicable

CFP professionals rated compliance with relevant laws and regulations, adherence to a professional code of ethics and acting in the best interest of the client as the most important tasks they perform when providing professional services to financial planning clients. At a time when consumer trust in the financial services industry is low, CFP professionals demonstrate their commitment to the public, and to standards of behavior that allow them to build trustworthy, professional relationships with their clients.

In fact, CFP professionals rated many client-focused items on the list of “most important” and “most applicable” financial planning tasks. In the study, tasks such as establishing trust, establishing rapport with clients and others, giving attention to what the client and others say, and taking time to understand the points being made, featured within the top ten on both lists, and were also cited among the tasks most frequently practiced during financial planning engagements.

Stepping Up in Difficult Times

Samuel Richardson, the 18th century British author, once wrote that “calamity is the test of integrity.” If that’s true, then financial planners all over the world are seeing their integrity tested daily – helping clients face calamities like lost jobs, lost assets, increased debt or revisions to their dreams. But the results of FPSB’s study should provide confidence to those seeking expert advice on their financial and life goals, and CFP professionals should be proud to be a part of a global community of financial planners that values ethics, standards and professionalism. I hope you’ll read the report, and continue to tell us what’s important to you in your professional practice. The future of the financial planning profession depends on it!


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