NAPFA Must Do The Right Thing With CPA/PFSs If It Wants To Retain Its Special Role As An Advocate For Consumers

Why is NAPFA — a group I respect and care about so much — saying that only a single designation, the CFP, is acceptable for membership? According to the original press release, the NAPFA National Board made this decision to minimize public "confusion" and build "consumer confidence." Why CFP®? According to NAPFA Chair Lauren Locker (who is, coincidentally, a CFP®), "the CFP® designation hits the mark as a strong, baseline standard.” 
Really? A baseline standard? What does that mean? I think it means that NAPFA is against recognizing a higher standard because of its alliance with the CFP Board and the fact that there are greater numbers of CFP® holders than PFS designees.
Notably, NAPFA’s brief press release cited the relationship between NAPFA and the CFP Board several times. "NAPFA and the CFP Board have a long history of collaboration ..." "NAPFA has been a strong strategic partner with the CFP Board." Did the AICPA not adequately ingratiate itself to the NAPFA Board?
The sheer number of CFP® members of NAPFA made this decision easy to push through. During a merely two-week comment period, "responses were overwhelmingly in favor of supporting the CFP® designation as the baseline educational standard for NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor membership."  (Again, the word baseline!)
But NAPFA members should have known better. These practitioners, who have long been considered the conscience of the financial advice business and who have become quite good as marketing themselves on that basis, should have asked themselves whether they are doing the right thing by breaking with NAPFA’s longstanding policy of treating CPA/PFS designees the same as CFPs.
For NAPFA, a group that has set itself apart from the rest of the financial advisor industry by supporting consumers, the decision to no longer accord CPA/PFSs the professional respect theys deserve, is more than just a slight, a display of badd manners. It is a betrayal of the public trust. It diminishes NAPFA. After all, why would NAPFA members want distance themselves from a financial planning designation with more stringent requirements than imposed on CFPs®?
Requirements Of NAPFA Members Versus CPA/PFSs
Must hold CFP® designation
Must be a CPA prior to becoming PFS
Must have a bachelor's degree
Must have a bachelor's degree + 1 year
Courses in PFP or equivalent knowledge
Courses in NINE PFP areas; minimum of 75 hours
Pass CFP® exam
Pass CPA & PFS or CFP® or ChFC exams
Three years if experience (or two as apprentice)
One year as CPA plus two years in 9 PFP areas
Ethics requirements & pass ethics exam
Ethics requirements & pass ethics exam
Renewal education 30 hours over two years
PFS renewal education 60 hours over three years plus CPA renewal education requirement of 80 hours over two years
According to NAPFA's website, "NAPFA's requirements exceed those of any other financial industry association." But as you can see from the chart above, it’s just plain untrue!
NAPFA is such a great organization in so many ways, and I respect its members so very much. That’s why I waited a year to say anything. I wanted to give it time to see if I would come to understand the decision. Then, attending the recent AICPA PFP conference stirred me to go public with my views because I care about NAPFA and would like to see my colleagues there reverse this policy. 
If NAPFA wants to continue to have the public’s trust, which it has earned for doing the right thing for so many years, it must always do what’s right for consumers.
CPA/PFSs hold themselves to the highest ethical and professional standards. It is wrong to discriminate against us just because some of us choose not to give the CFP Board money only to add more letters to our titles.


This Website Is For Financial Professionals Only

Why Join Advisors4Advisors from Advisors4Advisors