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News Release

With Financial Abuse on the Rise, CFP Board Releases "Consumer Guide to Financial Self-Defense”

September 20, 2010

National Football League Players Association, General Services Administration Team Up with CFP Board for the Release of This One-of-a-kind Document; Sen. Herb Kohl Offers Support for New Guide

WASHINGTON, DC, September 21, 2010 — Two years after the financial crisis threatened to bring down the world economy and Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme was exposed, the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards released a free guide today to the public so that they know what to watch out for – ten tips for handling “red flags” when choosing and working with a financial advisor.


CFP Board’s Consumer Guide to Financial Self-Defense’s Ten Tips for Handling
“Red Flags”
  1. Do Your Homework
  2. Fill in All the Blanks
  3. Beware of Rogue Advisors
  4. Make Sure It All Adds Up
  5. Don’t Give Away the Keys
  6. Step Back
  7. Look for the Downside
  8. Don’t Let Yourself Be Pressured
  9. Follow the Money
  10. Ask, Ask and Ask Again

CFP Board was joined in the release of the guide by the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) as well as a victim of financial fraud.

The public can access an online version the guide by going to, requesting a copy by sending an email to or calling 1-800-487-1497.

The GSA is including the guide as part of its Winter 2011 Consumer Information Catalog for distribution to the public (available November 2010). The guide has been endorsed by the Federal Citizen Information Center, an office of the GSA. The NFLPA will distribute the guide as part of its financial education service as well as promote it among players.

“I appreciate CFP Board being proactive on the issue of financial predators, for whom the elderly are a likely target,” said Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging. “This self-defense guide can help seniors tell the difference between legitimately trained and credentialed professionals who will offer unbiased financial advice, and bad actors who will take advantage of them and their savings.”

CFP Board is also making the guide available to Member of Congress, state legislators, Governors, Attorneys General and local elected officials, with CFP Board providing a free electronic copy and at-cost printing for mass quantities.

“I have found recent events particularly disturbing. Fraud and mismanagement by financial professionals have undermined consumer confidence. CFP Board is in an ideal position to advance the protection of consumers from fraudulent, unethical practices that can put their financial futures at risk,” said Robert J. Glovsky, CFP®, Chair of the CFP Board and President of Mintz Levin Financial Advisors, LLC in Boston.

CFP Board, a proponent of having anyone providing retail investment advice to adhere to a fiduciary standard of care, has developed this Consumer Guide to Financial Self-Defense in order to give consumers the information and tools they need to protect themselves from those who would prey upon their lack of financial expertise.

“The ten ‘red flags’ outlined in the guide will hopefully help consumers prevent the disastrous financial transactions that, each year, ruin far too many small investors and savers,” said Eleanor Blayney, CFP® - CFP Board’s Consumer Advocate.

These transactions stem from fraud perpetrated by a trusted associate; or from the sloppy unprofessional work, lack of due diligence, or bad decisions recommended by an incompetent financial advisor.

“Financial abuse can happen to anyone: the sophisticated investor, the high profile NFL player with a financial windfall, the recent widow with a small pension, or the average person trying to save for retirement,” said Dana Hammonds, Director of Player Services and Development for the NFLPA.

Adela Pena, a victim of incompetent financial advice that wiped out much of the savings she had put aside for her retirement, will speak at the launch event. Her case is a perfect example of the importance of practicing the tips for financial self-defense recommended in CFP Board’s Consumer Guide.

“We are proud to be associated with CFP Board’s Consumer Guide to Financial Self-Defense, because we believe that it will make a real difference in helping investors and savers to protect themselves from unethical and incompetent advisors – and to avoid the terrible life impact of trusting the wrong people,” said Stuart Willoughby, of the Federal Citizen Information Center, an office of the General Services Administration.

A recording of the news event is available >

Dan Drummond, CFP Board, Director of Public Relations
P: 202-379-2252
M: 202-550-4372
Twitter: @CFPBoardmedia