Updated Friday, December 19, 2014 as of 4:25 AM ET

Lawsuit Sends CFP Board ‘Fee-Only’ Debate to Court

A lawsuit brought by husband-and-wife planners in Florida against the CFP Board has brought the federal court system into the debate over “fee-only” labeling and consequences – a topic that the industry has been struggling to define.

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Comments (9)
You get the most interesting articles. I think that the Camarda's relinquished their rights a long time ago and the CFP disciplinary process, while flawed major league, was followed. What I do not understand is why the CFPBOS has not yet followed through with their sanction? The Camarda's had 30 days to appeal and it would seem that they did not. The appeal cannot be about the sentence because any infraction brought before the DEC can receive a private censure all the way up to revocation. In the meantime, the public is at risk!

It is nice to know that the Camarda's initial reaction was to rat out all the others - thank goodness for Google!
Posted by Consumer A | Thursday, September 12 2013 at 1:35PM ET
THANK YOU Camadras for suing the Board and Ann Marsh for covering the story. I only wish Alan Goldfarb would have done the same. Kevin Keller moved the Board from Colorado to Washington and then hired a prosecuting attorney from FINRA (Michael Shaw) and the attorney and Chief Enforcement Officer from the Washington State Dept. of Securities (Rex Staples). The CFP Board that used to be our ally is clearly now our adversary. Is it not obvious that Board CEO Keller either has personal political aspirations (you think the move to Washington is a coincidence) or desires the CFP Board to become a regulatory agency (you think hiring prosecutors for FINRA and a State Dept. of Securities is a coincidence). They will investigate you for anything, hold a public career ending censure over your head leaving you with either the option of paying $1,000-$2,000 for a settlement (if not accepted the hearing is another $1,000-$2,000) or having your career ruined with a public censure. They say they have a fair process with the Disciplinary and Ethics Committee (DEC) as it has fellow CFP's on it. If those CFP's don't play it the way the Board wants them to, they're gone! They ruined the career of Alan Goldfarb, a 40 yr. advisor with a spotless track record over a disagreement concerning his use of "salary" as compensation (they have sensed removed that as a compensation method) and his 1% ownership of a BD that generated approximately $1200 in annual compensation. He was the Chair of the DEC. If they will do that to him, what do you think they will do to you? While I've only be a CFP for 5 years, I am running away from this designation as fast as I can. All of the CFP candidates in my office have stopped their studying to become a CFP and all CFPs have decided not to renew - sad! Rex Staples left his position as director of investigations less than 19 months in the new role. Weeks after the board launched the Camardas investigation, Staple's position was created to "ensure the speed, consistency, fairness and credibility of judgments made in disciplinary cases of CFP's. If he had Board support to do this, would he have left? This is messed up big time and the media has caught onto it and they have the courage to report it. This, combined with CFP's taking legal action, is the only hope we have at getting "our" organization back. Hopefully this is starting to catch the eye of an attorney who will research the Boards website for other CFP's that have been uprightly publically censured and defamation of character and loss of income lawsuits will follow the lead of the Camadra's lawsuit. Between the media, the courts and CFP's that are willing to fight back, it's our only hope of getting "our" organization back to what it should be.
Posted by Tim E | Thursday, September 12 2013 at 3:58PM ET
I cannot believe that anyone owning an insurance agency would call themselves "fee-only". No one is required to be a CFP, or use the mark. If you want to call yourself a CFP you have to play by the CFP rules. I have been the target of a hearing, and the process does not follow the "rule of law", and I believe can be unfair. But when you use the mark, that is what you sign up for.
I sincerely hope that if you have outside interests in insurance agencies, broker-dealers, real estate firms, etc. that you either disclose it through a "fee and commission" check mark on the website or you give up using the marks. But please do not continue to try to fool the public.
There are other study courses and designations you can use where the standards are not as high. "Our" organization is about honesty and integrity. If you are successful in dragging it down to your level heaven help the profession.
Posted by Randy C | Thursday, September 12 2013 at 5:31PM ET
Tim, you have said almost all - the one point that could be added:
Look at the accused on the CFP site. Drug dealers, and other convicted felons of crimes to ugly too mention - receive a private letter while Goldfarb is publicly embarrassed. It is clearly all for show.

Randy you are correct - but did we really sign up for this? Did the CFP board fully disclose their intentions to us? The Board has changed dramatically -very recently, yet even if we turn in our mark(s) we can still but publicly shamed for 5 yrs afterward. I did not sign up to be a part of someone's political aspirations. It is clear that the Mr. Keller, would like to be the next Ms. Shapiro and cash in at our expense.
Posted by Andrew P | Thursday, September 12 2013 at 6:13PM ET
@ Andrew P

If I recall correctly in 2005 the CFPBOS changed a few little things in their renewal which gave them a 5 year look back, much like FINRA. In addition, they did announce the move to DC so that they could be a voice for planning. They are basically lobbyists.

There is an awful lot of uneveness apparent in the sentences handed out. If I recall correctly, there was a case of statutory rape which got either a censure or admonishment, and a case of exposing oneself in public, which received similar adjudication. I am fairly certain that statutory rape is a felony in most jurisdictions while the exposing oneself can go either way.

Ignoring the criminal cases, which are few within the scope of things, there are too numerous to mention case studies where the penalties for infractions appear to be uneven.

Lets face it, if you forge signatures or misrepresent your ability to provide advice in a jurisdiction, then you are really doing something that is harmful to the public.

According to the CFPBOS it was a DEC matter if you declared bankruptcy but it is okay to do a short sale in a non-recouse state. The net effect is that both require the lenders to take a loss, and both are quite legal.

One of the possible charges is that the certificant impinge or devalue the mark, but that is totally arbitrary. Personally, from what I read, the CFPBOS is doing that themselves.
Posted by Consumer A | Thursday, September 12 2013 at 6:38PM ET
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