Former FPA chairman hits back at CFP criticism

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Former FPA chairman Ray Griffin has written an impassioned defence of the CFP certification, in response to AIOFP executive director Peter Johnston's “cash cow” comments. Contributing to the lively debate on the Wealth Professional online forum, Griffin wrote the following comments:

There are a number of aspects of Mr Johnston's comments which are in need of reply. Firstly, let me disclose a few matters. In 2000 I served as Chairman of the Board of FPA; in 2003 I Chaired the International CFP Council and was actively involved in the establishment of the global body, the Financial Planning Standards Board, which owns the CFP trademarks in around 60 countries. I have reasonable insight to financial planning standards in quite a few countries.

Any argument against the CFP designation which is based on clients not asking a planner if they hold the CFP designation, quite simply, misses the point. It could well be that some potential new clients will already know that the planner they are about to me for the first time is a CFP. They could, for example, glean such information from websites and FSGs, just to name two areas.

While consumers might not yet be asking in great numbers if the planner they're meeting with is a CFP or if an AFSL is held (do tax payers ask their accountant if they are a Registered Tax Agent?), they are expecting education, experience, examination and ethical conduct from the planner. And quite simply, that's what CFP embodies and will continue to do so. Professionals of any ilk need to represent the very best of what their profession can provide for the community and all professions have designations which are held up as the highest level of professional commitment.

In more than 25 countries CFP continues to grow as financial planning practitioners realise the need to commit to something in order to demonstrate their commitment to professionalism.

Comments regarding CFP being a 'cash cow' for FPA are almost to the point of being ridiculous in the extreme. While FPA is a not for profit organisation it nevertheless has a duty to operate the organisation for members such that it remains financially viable. Considered commentary would recognise that there are substantial costs involved in running a professional body and providing a multitude of services to members.

It's very easy to sit back and throw 'hand grenades' at FPA for simply doing its job and doing it, mostly, very well. It's easy to overlook that CFP and FPA have stood for something for very many years; stood for professionalism at the highest level, stood for education requirements; stood for ethical conduct and stood for the need to have experienced planners providing advice.

In an absolute vacuum of other, equal, standards and in a vacuum of 'snail pace' legislative reform, for more than twenty years, FPA and CFP have been the one true rallying point for individuals who want to represent the very best of their profession.

After all the years of cheap shots at FPA it really would be refreshing to read a much more considered critiquing of FPA and CFP in the future.

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