Annual Background Checks of CFP® Certificants

CFP Board’s December 17, 2019, Independent Task Force Report

Apparently, there’s a new Sheriff in town.  As a result of a recent task force analysis, CFP Board will now conduct annual background checks on CFP® Certificants.  An overview of the Board’s report follows:


On July 30, 2019, the Board of Directors of CFP Board (“The Board”) formed an Independent Task Force on Enforcement (“Task Force”). The Task Force was charged with the responsibility to deliver a report that examines CFP Board’s current enforcement program for its Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct (“Code and Standards”) and proposes actionable recommendations for improvements.

CFP Board’s Current and Enhanced Enforcement Efforts

The enforcement of CFP Board’s Code and Standards is a vital component of CFP Board’s certification program. CFP Board’s objective for our enforcement program is to follow a well-defined process that both reassures the public and is fair to a CFP® professional.

This process begins when applying for CFP® certification. Prior to being certified, a candidate for CFP® certification undergoes an extensive background check to determine whether the candidate’s prior conduct is consistent with our ethical and fitness standards and would not reflect adversely upon the profession or the CFP® certification mark. Individuals who do not meet our ethical requirements are denied certification. Once certified, a CFP® professional is required to comply with CFP Board’s Code and Standards and must complete regular ethics attestations. CFP Board has conducted hundreds of investigations each year and, since its inception, has issued more than 1,000 public sanctions for noncompliance with its Code and Standards.

In mid-2019, CFP Board introduced enhancements to its enforcement program in response to important issues raised publicly, many of which the Task Force addressed in its report. A primary issue has been the reliance on CFP® professionals self-reporting events that would trigger an investigation. To address this concern and to strengthen the enforcement of its Code and Standards, CFP Board has taken the following preliminary actions:

  • CFP Board no longer relies primarily on the self-disclosure of CFP® professionals;
  • CFP Board has implemented annual background checks on all CFP® professionals, including reviews of FINRA’s BrokerCheck, the SEC’s IAPD, and other publicly available information;
  • Those who are certified are required to make ongoing disclosures of an expanded category of information within 30 calendar days;
  • CFP Board now provides consumers with access to BrokerCheck and IAPD information on and; and
  • CFP Board staff have been continuously reviewing BrokerCheck for existing CFP® professionals and continue to monitor and follow up on regulatory actions by the federal government and self-regulatory agencies if CFP® professionals are named.”

The complete report may be viewed at Changes to CFP Board Enforcement