Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC®) has the responsibility of protecting the public interest by ensuring that an individual certified by FPSC, as a CFP® professional or an FPSC Level 1® Certificant in Financial Planning (collectively referred to as “FPSC certificants”), observe the high professional and ethical standards set by FPSC.
The Standards of Professional Responsibility for CFP® Professionals and FPSC Level 1® Certificants in Financial Planning (“The Standards of Professional Responsibility”), overseen by FPSC’s Standards Panel, establish the minimum standards of acceptable professional conduct, and clarify the expectations of FPSC certificants.
Adherence to the Standards of Professional Responsibility is mandatory for all FPSC certificants and the principles and rules contained in those documents are strictly enforced by FPSC. Note: Prior to the release of the Standards of Professional Responsibility on December 13, 2011, FPSC certificants were governed by the provisions of the CFP Code of Ethics and the CFP Financial Planning Practice Standards. Depending upon when the alleged misconduct occurred, these documents may continue to apply.
What to Expect - Investigation
FPSC will provide written notice that an Investigation has been instructed, and the scope of FPSC’s Investigation including the allegations under review.
The assigned Investigator will seek your response to the allegations under investigation. This is your opportunity to provide your side of the story. It is important that you respond to the Investigator by the deadline set, and provide:
- all information being requested in as much detail as possible;
- all supporting documentation; and
- any additional information that you feel will assist FPSC in its review of your conduct.
Following an exchange of written communications, you may be asked to participate in an interview. FPSC interviews are typically conducted by telephone but may be held in-person. All interviews are digitally recorded.
Potential Sources of evidence may include:
- Documents, including electronic, in the FPSC certificant’s or Complainant’s possession;
- Documents relating to parallel or related proceedings;
- Information from witnesses - identified by the Complainant, the Investigator and/or FPSC Certificant as well as those identified in documents; and
- FPSC internal records: prior complaint or discipline history with FPSC and prior Certification Renewal Application forms, including the Declarations on those forms.
Following the conclusion of FPSC’s investigation, the Conduct Review Panel ("CRP") will meet to consider the complaint and the appropriate outcome. Note: All matters instructed for investigation must be referred to the CRP for consideration as a matter of process, this is not an indication of escalation of the file.
The CRP can:
- Dismiss the matter where it is determined that further review is unwarranted or unlikely to result in a finding of misconduct; or
- Dismiss the matter with a letter of Guidance and Advice; or
- Refer the matter to a Hearing Panel.
You will be notified of the CRP’s decision in writing. Where the CRP resolves a matter with Guidance and Advice, you will receive a written letter of Guidance and Advice from the Chair of the CRP.
Duty to Cooperate and Respond
Regardless of the severity, or your assessment of the merits of the complaint, you have a professional obligation to respond to communications and to cooperate with FPSC’s investigation in the review of your conduct.
Every FPSC certificant under investigation has an obligation to fully cooperate and make available to FPSC, upon request, any relevant documents and records in the certificants possession, or available to the certificant. Relevance shall be determined by FPSC. Failure to do so is itself grounds for discipline under the Discipline Rules and Procedures (“DRP”).
Where the FPSC certificant fails to respond to FPSC’s communications and/or to cooperate with an investigation, the matter may be referred to a Disciplinary Hearing Panel, in accordance with the DRP.
Reminder – Reporting Requirements
As an FPSC certificant, you have a professional obligation to provide complete and accurate Declarations to FPSC and to report any changes to the annual declarations to FPSC in writing, within 15 days of becoming aware of a change.
This reporting obligation is an ongoing obligation. Failure to disclose this information may be a breach of the Standards of Professional Responsibility.
You may retain legal representation to assist you, but this is not a requirement.
Please note, whether you decide to retain counsel or not, the obligation to respond and cooperate with FPSC rests with you.