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When it comes to ethics and professional responsibility, CFP® professionals are held to the highest of standards. They are obliged to uphold the principles of integrity, objectivity, competence, fairness, confidentiality, professionalism and diligence as outlined in CFP® Board’s Code of Ethics. The Rules of Conduct require CFP® professionals to put your interests ahead of their own at all times and to provide their financial planning services as a “fiduciary”—acting in the best interest of their financial planning clients. CFP® professionals are subject to CFP® Board sanctions if they violate these standards.
Knowing what to expect from a financial planning relationship puts you in the driver’s seat—which is exactly where you belong. To get the most out of your experience with a financial planner, you shouldn’t settle for anything less than the qualities of a true professional.
Trust is central to a successful financial planning relationship. You rely on your planner’s honesty, professionalism and abilities to achieve your goals. When you know your planner takes his professional obligations seriously and places principles over personal gain, you can form a good working partnership. CFP® Board’s strict Standards of Professional Conduct are designed to ensure your CFP® professional acts in a professionally responsible manner.
Your needs will be at the heart of all your planner’s recommendations. A CFP® professional has an ethical obligation to act in your best interest when providing financial planning advice. Your planner will use his/her experience and judgment to carefully consider your situation, and then give you advice that best meets your goals. Sometimes this objectivity may require your planner to explain that your goals are unrealistic given your current resources and financial commitments.
CFP® professionals have demonstrated an appropriate level of knowledge to offer financial planning advice. The CFP® certification provides confidence that your financial planner has completed rigorous education and experience requirements—including continuing education coursework—designed to ensure competence in financial planning.
Fair treatment means your CFP® professional will clearly state what services will be provided and at what cost. Your planner will also explain the risks associated with all financial recommendations, along with any potential conflicts of interest.
To get the best results from your financial planning relationship, you need to divulge relevant personal and financial information to your financial planner on a regular basis. Your CFP® professional will keep this information in confidence, only sharing it to conduct business on your behalf, at your consent or when ordered to do so by a court of law.
Your CFP® professional will not provide investment advice or stock brokerage services unless he is properly qualified and licensed to do so, as required by state or federal law. If your situation requires expertise which your CFP® professional does not possess, he should suggest other professionals who may assist you.
Before engaging you as a client, your CFP® professional will discuss your goals and objectives and explain what you can expect from the relationship. Once your planner has determined that he (or his staff or network of related professionals) can assist you, the planner will make recommendations suitable for you. A diligent planner will reasonably investigate the products or services he recommends and closely supervise any staff working with you.
The above is derived from information from the CFP® Board.