August 2, 2019

Investors seeking the advice of a Certified Financial Planner will likely turn to the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. as a source. To become a Certified Financial Planner, an advisor must complete a rigorous course of examinations, log 6000 hours of experience, and pass the Board’s conduct Fitness Standards. But, while the requirements to be certified are rigorous, the certifying agency’s official directory seems to ignore problems that come up after certification is achieved.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal investigative report [1], the organization’s website – a directory of more than 80,000 CFP Professionals – fails to reveal past problems and complaints that could impact a user’s decision about whether to hire a member.

The WSJ article compared more than 72,000 listings on with listings on FINRA, an industry-funded watchdog entity, and found:

  • More than 5000 have faced formal client complaints, been disciplined by regulators, or been fired from brokerage firms for misconduct.
  • At least 140 faced, or currently face, felony charges.
  • More than 60 have filed for bankruptcy within the past 10 years.

The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards has disputed allegations of improper vetting, saying “it has a thorough vetting procedure and a multistep process for investigating allegations of misbehavior… As a professional organization, not a regulator, it plays a different role than FINRA or the SEC.” In response to the Journal’s findings, the Board said, it will now also look at FINRA and SEC records each time a CFP renews certification.

If you are looking to hire a CFP, take the time to research your potential advisor at BrokerCheck by FINRA in addition to confirming their certification on If you feel you’ve been hurt or misled by withheld information that caused you to engage a fraudulent CPA, then contact us today at 816.307.0781.