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CFP Board Backtracks on Increasing Education Requirements

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By Michael Cohn
December 6, 2012

The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards is rethinking the idea of changing the continuing education requirements for CFPs.

The board of directors said Tuesday that they have decided against making any changes in the CE requirements needed for CFP certification and they are going to further review the previously proposed changes.

During a November meeting, the board of directors at the organization passed a resolution calling on the Council on Education and the staff at the CFP Board to "study and develop recommendations on the appropriate level of CE to maintain CFP professionals' competency for the benefit of the public."

The Council is the CFP Board's volunteer group that advises the organization and CEO on education standards, policies and programs. The CFP Board staff and the Council are now in the process of conducting further research into current practices in CE and addressing comments received by stakeholders, according to the group. Additional public comments will be sought when the proposed changes are developed.

However, the CFP Board admits that it has already received a slew of comments asking for changes in the educational requirements. Back in August, the CFP Board requested public comment on proposed changes to its CE requirements after researching continuing education requirements for comparable designations and licenses, along with recommendations from CFP Board's Council, and input from the board of directors.

The CFP Board had originally proposed a number of changes, such as increasing the CE requirements from 30 to 40 hours every two years; increasing the CE ethics requirements from two to four hours; granting some CE credit for practice management courses and for pro bono activities; and expanding professional activities that qualify for CE. 

The CFP Board then received more than 1,100 comments, a record number for the board, in response to the proposed changes. However, the majority argued for a more pragmatic viewpoint, with 85 percent of the comments opposed to increasing the CE requirement from 30 to 40 hours.

“We are grateful for the very thoughtful and constructive feedback from our CFP professional community on our proposed CE changes,” said CFP Board CEO Kevin R. Keller in a statement. “The additional review requested by the Board will ensure that any CE changes balance the interests of the public in maintaining the ongoing competency of CFP professionals with the interests of our CFP professionals in standards that are professionally acceptable, economically affordable and do not create unnecessary administrative burdens.”

Now the CFP Board is backtracking on the proposed changes, even though one might argue that the need for increased education of financial planners is more necessary than ever in the aftermath of the financial crisis, especially with a large number of CFPs losing their certifications because of their own financial problems and bankruptcies. The turnabout comes at a bad time for the CFP Board, after a scandal last month that forced several members of the board of directors, including the chairman, to step down (see CFP Board Chair, Two Board Members Resign after Investigation).

Perhaps the additional review will still result in stiffer requirements for CFPs, but that’s not certain anymore.

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