Last fall, the CFP Board formally announced its new Center for Financial Planning, a designated subsection of the CFP Board itself intended to help advance the financial planning profession. It’s stated vision was to become “the premier resource in the financial planning profession for educators, researchers, practitioners, financial services firms, and the public”, with a particular focus on cultivating the next generation of financial planners, enhancing gender and racial diversity amongst CFP certificants, and becoming an academic home for the financial planning body of knowledge.
From a financial perspective, the Center for Financial Planning was originally announced as being funded primarily from the CFP Board’s own operating budget, by outside sponsors (including a lead sponsorship from TD Ameritrade), and through the opportunity for CFP certificants to voluntarily donate. However, the CFP Board has recently begun “testing” a new CFP renewal process, defaulting every CFP certificant into a $25/year donation that amounts to a 14% increase in certification fees and “voluntary” organizational dues, or nearly $2M/year of new revenue for fund the CFP Board’s ever-expanding initiatives!
Although the Center for Financial Planning’s new initiatives themselves are laudable, the massive push by the CFP Board and its new internal entity for new revenue seems to put it on an ever-accelerating collision course with the Financial Planning Association, as their overlapping initiatives grow ever more redundant, and both organizations increasingly ask CFP certificants to foot the (redundant) bill.
Yet ironically, even as the CFP Board converges on the functions of a membership association and a certifying body, the reality is that the entire origin of the CFP Board was a spin-off from an educational institution (the College for Financial Planning) in the 1980s, in large part due to the fundamental conflict of interest that exists when the certifying organization also serves as an educator of its certificants and competes with the CE sponsors it oversees. Which means either the CFP Board has managed to entirely forget the roots from whence it came… or perhaps that it is continuing to groom the Center for Financial Planning as a spin-off membership association precisely because the leadership believe it is a way to work around the CFP Board’s troubled past?