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College for Financial Planning Credibility

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Confusing Nomenclature? 

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™


dem2Recently, John H. Robinson – a Honolulu based independent and dual-registered financial advisor who holds a degree in economics from Williams College and who has written and published numerous professional papers – essentially challenged the credibility of the College for Financial Planning.

“Dr. [Somnath] Basu [PhD] is quite correct in pointing out that the College for Financial Planning is not academically accredited and there are no admissions standards other than a nominal three year industry experience standard (three years as a clerk in a brokerage firm will qualify). Mr. [Kevin] Keller [CEO-CFP BoS] defends the curriculum by stating that, “Topics include economic concepts such as supply and demand, fiscal and monetary policy, time-value of money concepts…” The mere fact that that no prior college level academic experience in finance is required is testament to the fact that the coursework is largely 101 level materials.

To illustrate this point by example, economics represents one small chapter of the Investments section of the CFP curriculum. In contrast, econometrics and statistics alone was a semester long 300 level course in my undergraduate economics studies. This is not to suggest that the CFP program does not provide adequate training and preparation for a career in financial planning, but to assert that the CFP designation trumps a graduate or even undergraduate degree in finance or economics is difficult to defend. This was my counterpoint to Mr. [Dan] Moisand’s bellicose labeling of non-CFP certificants as “faux planners”.

Source: http://www.fa-mag.com/online-extras/4037-revisiting-cfp-credentialing.html

Moreover, he stated that:

In fairness, some of Dr. Basu’s ideals on the educational standards for financial planning certification seem a bit extreme as well. For instance, I can’t imagine subjecting doctors, attorneys, or even business school professors to periodic recertification exams.”

Source: http://www.fa-mag.com/online-extras/4037-revisiting-cfp-credentialing.html

The Big Question

And so, the big question for financial advisors and Certified Financial Planners®: Is the College for Financial Planning, a college at all? Is it accredited and more importantly, who accredits it? If not; why not? And, was the name “college” purposely selected to obfuscate?

Moreover, and of more importance to our physician readers, FAs and ME-P subscribers: Do doctors, attorneys or business school professors need to periodically recertify themselves by examinations?

IOW: Is Mr. Robinson correct or not – in fact or meaning – on one or both accounts? How about Dan Moisand? Am I, or Mr. Robinson, a “faux” planner?


A paper co-authored by Mr. Robinson, entitled, “Reality Check: The implications of sustainable withdrawal analysis on real world portfolios” was awarded the CFP Board of Standards’ 2008 Outstanding Paper Award. He does not hold the CFP® designation.


Among many other “hats”, I am a former licensed insurance agent, certified financial planner, board certified surgeon, visiting B-school professor, and current academic provost for the CMP™ online program in health economics and medical practice management for fiduciary consultants. Our goal is to “raise the bar” for all colleagues in this space.

Update 2013:



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21 Responses

  1. Update

    The College for Financial Planning, Inc. (the degree-granting arm of the College) is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association (NCA), 30 North LaSalle Street, Suite 2400, Chicago, IL 60602-2504.


    The College for Financial Planning, Inc. has been authorized by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education to offer instruction for and to grant the master’s degree.


    Ann Miller; RN, MHA
    Editorial Staff


  2. Dr. Marcinko,

    I left a message on your voice mail this afternoon. It is important that you contact me regarding errors in your May 22 article “College for Financial Planning Credibility”.

    It is clear that you have confused the College for Financial Planning (a regionally-accredited institute of higher education) with the CFP Board of Standards (a certifying organization and the owner of the CFP mark). The two are unrelated entities.

    The College for Financial Planning is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). The title and content of your article serve to mislead your readers and will cause harm to our business if they are not immediately rectified.

    Please call me at 800-237-9990, Ext. 4823.


    Dr. Jesse B. Arman
    Vice President, Academic Affairs
    College for Financial Planning


  3. From: iMBA Inc offices [mailto:marcinkoadvisors@msn.com]
    Sent: Tue 5/26/2009 5:07 PM
    To: Basu, Somnath
    Subject: about CFFP

    Hello Dr. Basu

    Just wondering if you have been contacted by the College for Financial Planning.

    We have:

    Thank You.
    Executive Director

    Suite #5901 Wilbanks Drive
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    CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This message including attachments is confidential. If you have received it in error, please destroy and notify us immediately. This email document is also copyrighted and may not be reproduced or disseminated in any form without our express written permission. Copyright © iMBA Inc. All rights reserved, USA.

    Subject: RE: about CFFP
    Date: Wed, 27 May 2009 19:16:01 -0700
    From: basu@callutheran.edu
    To: marcinkoadvisors@msn.com

    Tx Ann. They (the college) have not contacted me.

    However, note that the CFP stands for Certified Financial Planner and does not refer to the College for Financial Planning. I did not make any such reference either. The respondee is mixing up the true meaning of the acronym. Will you pls post on my behalf.

    Dr. Somnath Basu, Director
    California Institute of Finance at CLU
    Cell – (805) 405 4448
    Work – (805) 493 3980


  4. Did you know that the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards wants to put theory into practice with its proposal to add a financial plan development course to its educational standards?


    So, does this mean that financial planners don’t know how to write a financial plan? Or, does the secretarial software do it all for them? Many questions.

    PS: Nice job on your sample plans, Dr. Marcinko. I look forward to Part III.



  5. Dr. Jesse B. Arman,

    What’s clear is that you are the one disrespecting the CFP Board of Standards.

    Funny thing; one suspect entity dissing another specious organization, in the financial sales and services sector! Kind of like the pot, calling the kettle black.

    Will the infighting never end? Few respect either organization. Both are legends in like-minds.



  6. Franklin, Jesse and Edward

    After all these years … is it true that so-called CFP® practitioners had to have a college degree only since 2007, or so?

    Or, that the so-called CFP Board of Standards is still fighting over the very definition of the term “fiduciary”, along with the SEC and FINRA? Aren’t most financial advisors, still just lightly [un]educated and in-house trained sales-agents working for their firms?

    Come on FINR, SEC, College for Financial Plannnig and CFP BoS … fess up!



  7. Subscribers,

    In this time of healthcare reform debate, and financial services industry ignominy, I commend you for bringing the debate over the credibility of FINRA, the SEC [Chris Cox-UGH!], CFP “certification” and other so-called designations to the forefront. Judging from the volume of responses to Dr. Marcinko, Dr. Basu and others, the topic has obviously touched a nerve in this community and elsewhere. But hear this, no lesions will ever be learned; except buyer beware!

    Now, end the marketing and sales BS, and start the renaissance. Business as usual must stop. I fear it will not.



  8. Dr. Jesse B. Arman
    Vice President, Academic Affairs
    College for Financial Planning

    Thank you for your recent re-phone contact and civility. We would be pleased to address your concerns if sent to us in writing so we can post them for our readers and subscribers. Accuracy and transparency is a laudable goal.

    Corrections and Complaints:

    PS: We appreciate you for viewing our ME-P blogsite.

    Hope Hetico; RN, MHA
    [Managing Editor]


  9. It Figures

    The Certified Financial Planner designation is about to become more challenging to obtain. The Board of Standards this month approved a new prerequisite for its two-day certification exam: a 45-hour capstone course on financial planning.

    But, representatives of the three largest CFP education programs—The American College, the College for Financial Planning, and Kaplan University—balked at the proposal.




  10. On College for Financial Planning Credibility

    Spokesmen for the College, and the three largest CFP® education programs mentioned above, declined to comment for this article.

    Ann Miller; RN, MHA


  11. “The Streisand effect is a primarily online phenomenon in which an attempt to hide or remove a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely. It is named after American entertainer Barbra Streisand, whose 2003 attempt to suppress photographs of her residence inadvertently generated further publicity.”



  12. How a financial pro lost his house

    A financial adviser spells out the steps that brought him and his family to the brink of fiscal disaster

    This story, “How a Financial Pro Lost His House,” originally appeared in The New York Times.

    Certified Financial Planner Carl Richards’s book, “The Behavior Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things With Money,” will be released on January 3rd, 2012.


    His story is yet another cautionary tale for us all. But, this comment is NOT a plug for the book.

    Dr. H. J. Boxworth


  13. Dr. Jesse B. Arman
    Vice President, Academic Affairs
    College for Financial Planning

    According to CFP Mike Kitces, CPA financial planners are a rising force in financial planning … and at some point in the next few years, the CPAs will have to make a decision about whether or how they will engage with “the rest” of the financial planning world.


    Any thoughts on these well educated CPAs – as Dr. Basu’s and Marcinko’s points are well taken? Thank you.

    Dr. K. R. Wellington


  14. CFP Board Offers Broad Amnesty to Rule-Breaking Advisors

    The CFP Board extended a broad amnesty to hundreds of advisors who had been breaking its rules by calling themselves fee-only on the board’s website.


    But, amnesty implies wrong-doing and there was none.



  15. CFP Board Reinstates Fee-Only Search Function On Its Website

    Late last week, according to Mike Kitces, the CFP Board removed the ability for consumers to search for a “fee only” advisor from their “Let’s Make A Plan” website for finding a CFP professional.

    At the same time, the CFP Board issued a “grand reset” of all advisors who had indicated they were “fee only” on the website, reverting their compensation disclosure to “none provided” and inviting all fee-only certificants to re-enter their compensation disclosure (and affirm that it was/is correct and in compliance with current CFP Board guidelines). The removal of the search functionality came after Financial Planning magazine published an article finding 486 advisors at wirehouses who were using the “fee only” label despite the fact that CFP Board’s rules declare that is inappropriate compensation disclosure due to the advisor’s affiliation to a related party (the wirehouse employer) that accepts commissions.

    While the CFP Board declares this is simply a step taken to ensure that all fee-only advisors are properly disclosing compensation, critics point out that the decision to reset the advisors’ compensation disclosures without taking enforcement action amounts to granting amnesty to a large swath of advisors, despite the fact that Alan Goldfarb, Tina Florence, and at least one other DEC member were privately or publicly censured for what they claim were similar offenses and without the opportunity to just correct their website disclosures.

    In fact, given the disparate treatment, some are even calling on the CFP Board to issue a public apologize to Goldfarb in particular.


    What do you think College for Financial Planning?



  16. Florida Planners Suing CFP Board Seek Damages

    These financial planners amended their complaint to seek unspecified damages in addition to earlier claims seeking an admission of fault from the CFP board of standards as well as the quashing of a public sanction for calling their practice fee-only.


    So, what do you all think?



  17. Concern About CFP Board Controversy Hits Colleges That Teach Planning

    TO: Dr. Jesse B. Arman
    Vice President, Academic Affairs
    College for Financial Planning

    Educators say they expect a full explanation and transparency.

    Open Comment Requested:

    It appears the struggle we began more than 5 years ago is becoming transparent. So, better late than never.


    Yet, it appears that you may have tried to censor us. But, perhaps we were mistaken?

    And so, we invite you to post, update or comment in the spirit of collegiality and clarification. No phone calls – please, as we would like you on the record.

    In the meantime – what do ME-P readers think of this controversy?

    Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP™


  18. Dr. Jesse B. Arman
    Vice President, Academic Affairs
    College for Financial Planning

    Hi Dr. Arman,

    Any thoughts? On the record, of course.

    Concern About CFP Board Controversy Hits Colleges That Teach Planning


    Thank you.


  19. Enter Sal Kahn

    I just heard that the Khan Academy is teaming up with state and federal governments to produce consumer directed economic literacy, and financial planning education prep videos, for consumers.

    Any other info available out there? Should FAs be worried?




  20. Marvin

    The Bank of America, the bank that everyone loves to hate, is a major sponsor of this Khan Academy initiative. A public relations endeavor, no doubt.

    Why? Bank of America Corp just said that it was cutting 1,200 to 1,300 mortgage jobs because of declines in refinancing activity and an improvement in its portfolio of delinquent home loans.



  21. College for Financial Planning

    So, the College for Financial Planning is owned by the Apollo Group. These are the same folks who run the University of Phoenix, etc.

    Did anyone say credibility issues?



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