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The Future of Financial Planning Across Borders is Already Here

Jeff Kenney, FPSB Director of Certification and StandardsJeffrey F. Kenney, FPSB Ltd. Director of Standards and Certification

The future of financial planning will be global and for many professionals it already is. To address the wants and needs of financial planners and their clients now and in the future, the Financial Planning Standards Board Ltd. (FPSB) has begun to develop a model that would allow CFP professionals to become certified in more than one territory using a standardized process. This model will also provide a solution for firms taking employees across borders, allowing for career growth and promotional opportunities. FPSB is the global standard-setting body for CFP certification representing nearly 160,000 CFP professionals in 26 territories.

Many CFP professionals work with clients outside the territory where they were initially certified. Currently, most do so without achieving certification in those additional territories due to either the lack of information on how to achieve additional certifications or the complexity of the process. CFP professionals recognize the need to be fully educated on the tax laws, retirement schemes and other aspects of practice that vary from one territory to another. They also recognize the benefits that come with serving clients in multiple territories, including increased income and client satisfaction.

FPSB is developing a process that can be used across the world for times when a CFP professional is working with clients in territories outside of where he or she was initially certified. There are many different scenarios when this might happen, including:

  • When the employer of the CFP professional relocates the employee to a different territory;
  • When clients move to a new territory and want to maintain their relationship with a CFP professional; or
  • When CFP professionals want to market their services in other territories, which may be next door or half a world away.

These are only a few of the possible scenarios that can be served by a standardized process that serves all CFP professionals.

Current Policies

If a CFP professional desires to become certified in any other territory, he or she would need to contact the association that offers certification in that territory and go through the process specified by that territory. While this works for individuals who achieve certification in only one additional territory, the process becomes cumbersome when trying to become certified in more territories.

FPSB currently allows CFP professionals to use their credential (called a “mark”) outside of the territory where they were initially certified via the FPSB policy on Cross-Border Use of the CFP Marks. Compliance with this policy is not the same as becoming certified in a new territory. The policy only covers incidental use of the CFP marks outside the territory where a professional is certified. The FPSB policy describes incidental use to include:

  • Articles published in a new territory;
  • Business cards or brochures for the purpose other than seeking financial planning business in a new territory; and
  • Websites viewed by those outside the territory where the CFP professional is certified.

Providing the Best Possible Service to Clients

CFP professionals desire to bring their expertise to assist clients in achieving their financial goals in life. For this reason, CFP professionals recognize the need to be fully capable when delivering advice to clients. With the variety of ways in which clients can manage their assets, tax liabilities, planning for wealth transfers or paying for children’s education, a CFP professional should be fully capable and knowledgeable with all aspects of practice in each territory where he or she offers advice.

For this reason, achieving certification in each territory where advice will be provided is essential to providing competent service.

Within the certification scheme for CFP professionals, competency is developed and assessed when three things can be documented.

  • Education – Provides the CFP professional with the knowledge, skills and abilities to assess a client’s situation, determine possible approaches and develop recommendations.
  • Experience – Provides CFP professionals with “real world” experience in collection of client information, analysis of client wants and needs, and synthesis of all available information into a plan that will meet the client’s goals.
  • Examination – Provides third-party validation that the CFP professional possesses the required competencies to practice financial planning in a manner that protects consumers.

The FPSB Cross-Border Certification Process

As noted above, FPSB Ltd. is currently developing a standardized process to facilitate certification by CFP professionals in territories outside the location where they first achieved the CFP credential.

The proposed FPSB process will use FPSB’s website as a central resource for learning about the process and taking the initial steps. CFP professionals will use the FPSB website to determine whether their situation can be addressed through the current policy on Cross-Border Use of the CFP Marks or by achieving certification in a new territory. If the latter is the best course of action, the FPSB website will provide information on what will be required of the CFP professional to demonstrate his or her ability to provide financial planning services to clients in the new territory.

The FPSB process that is under development will continue to give the FPSB Member organization in each territory complete control over who they certify. As the process comes into existence in the next few years, more and more territories will use this standardized process to facilitate the certification of those who already hold CFP certification and are interested in certification in a new territory.

The financial planning profession continues to grow in both numbers of CFP professionals and scope of services offered. As more and more CFP professionals work with clients with assets spread across multiple territories, the need for holding CFP certification in more than one territory will grow to serve clients’ needs. FPSB Ltd. is working to make this process as simple as possible while maintaining the high standards currently in place that serve to protect consumers of financial advice.

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