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The Ethics Requirement

Fitness Standards

The Fitness Standards are an essential part of the Ethics requirement for CFP® certification. They apply to both candidates for CFP® certification, as well as professionals who are eligible for reinstatement.

Important Note
Effective June 30, 2020, CFP Board’s Fitness Standards were updated to align with the new Procedural Rules that replaced the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures and Appeal Rules and Procedures.

Review a redline version of the updated Fitness Standards

Read the new Procedural Rules

CFP Board established specific character and fitness standards for candidates for CFP® certification to ensure that an individual's prior conduct would not reflect adversely upon the profession or the CFP® certification marks.

CFP Board determined that such standards would also provide notice that certain conduct would bar certification, or require an individual to petition the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (DEC) for consideration.

The Fitness Standards also apply to Professionals Eligible for Reinstatement (PER). These individuals are defined as those who are not currently certified, but have been certified by CFP Board in the past and are eligible to reinstate their certification without being required to pass the current CFP® certification examination.

Understanding the Fitness Standards

These Fitness Standards apply to candidates for CFP® certification and former CFP® professionals seeking reinstatement whose certification has not been suspended. CFP Board has identified three categories of adverse conduct relevant to fitness:

  1. Conduct that is unacceptable
  2. Conduct that is presumed to be unacceptable; and
  3. Other conduct that may reflect adversely upon the individual’s integrity or fitness, the profession, or the CFP® certification marks.

An individual whose conduct is unacceptable is permanently barred from becoming certified. Conduct that is presumed to be unacceptable or that may reflect adversely will bar an individual from becoming certified unless the individual petitions the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (DEC) for a fitness determination in accordance with CFP Board’s Procedural Rules, and the DEC grants the petition or permits the individual to reapply for certification at a later date. The individual may not file a Petition for Fitness Determination until after the individual has successfully completed the education, examination and experience requirements for certification. CFP Board requires those seeking CFP® certification to disclose relevant matters on the ethics declaration of the Certification Application.

CONDUCT DEEMED UNACCEPTABLE

The following conduct is unacceptable and will always bar an individual from becoming certified:

  • Felony conviction for theft, embezzlement or other financially-based crimes.
  • Felony conviction for tax fraud or other tax-related crimes.
  • Revocation of a financial (e.g. registered securities representative, broker/dealer, insurance, accountant, investment advisor, financial planner) professional license, unless the revocation is administrative in nature, i.e. the result of the individual determining not to renew the license by not paying the required fees.
  • Felony conviction for any degree of murder or rape.
  • Felony conviction for any other violent crime within the last five years.
Cases of conduct that fall under the "Presumptive Bar" list or that may reflect adversely upon the profession or the CFP® certification marks, are reviewed by the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (DEC).

CONDUCT DEEMED A PRESUMPTIVE BAR

The following conduct is presumed to be unacceptable:

  • Two or more personal or business bankruptcies.
  • Revocation or suspension of a non-financial professional (e.g. real estate, attorney) license, unless the revocation is administrative in nature, i.e. the result of the individual determining not to renew the license by not paying the required fees.
  • Suspension of a financial professional (e.g. registered securities representative, broker/dealer, insurance, accountant, investment advisor, financial planner) license, unless the suspension is administrative in nature, i.e. the result of the individual determining not to renew the license by not paying the required fees.
  • Felony conviction for non-violent crimes (including perjury) within the last five years.
  • Felony conviction for violent crimes other than murder or rape that occurred more than five years ago.

OTHER ADVERSE CONDUCT

Other conduct that may reflect adversely upon the individual’s integrity or fitness, the profession, or the CFP® certification marks includes:

  • Customer complaints.
  • Arbitrations and other civil proceedings.
  • Felony convictions for non-violent crimes that occurred more than five years ago.
  • Misdemeanor convictions.
  • Employer investigations and terminations.