The American Institute of CPAs has issued additional guidance for CPAs who offer personal financial planning services, issuing practice standards that apply the AICPA's code of professional conduct to the PFP arena.
The standards build on the AICPA's existing oversight of CPAs whose clients are seeking advice on more topics. The AICPA Statement on Standards in Personal Financial Planning Services covers all aspects of the planning process, including obtaining information and communicating and implementing recommendations. The enforceable standards require complete transparency on factors such as compensation and potential conflicts that could influence client decision making and must be followed by all AICPA members who do financial planning.
The AICPA noted that more of its members have begun offering personal financial planning services as more clients turn to CPAs for help navigating financial issues such as taxes, retirement planning, education planning, estate planning, investments and risk management.
Membership in the AICPA’s Personal Financial Planning Section has increased 32 percent over the past five years, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected the number of personal financial advisors to increase 27 percent nationwide between 2012 and 2022.
“CPAs, through state licensure and professional oversight, must meet the highest bar of competency, objectivity and integrity,” said Lyle K. Benson, who chairs the executive committee of the AICPA’s PFP Section, in a statement. “These standards provide a clear roadmap for achieving that benchmark in a rapidly evolving practice area. They are built on the cornerstone of the CPA profession — the public interest — and enhance the consistency and rigor that CPAs are known for in the financial planning discipline.”
The executive committee issued the standards, which take effect July 1, through authority granted by the AICPA’s governing council in October 2012. They are based on the AICPA's “Statement on Responsibilities in Personal Financial Planning Practice,” which was originally adopted in 1992.