A Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) panel is proposing to replace the first principle in FPSC’s Code of Ethics from one that requires placing a client’s interests first to one that outlines a more detailed duty of loyalty.
The FPSC’s standards panel has proposed a number of changes to the organization’s Standards of Professional Responsibility, which could affect CFP professionals and FPSC level one certificants.
Along with introducing new rules of conduct and some new guidance—related to issues including personally lending money to or borrowing from clients, and how planners should advise clients of relationship changes when they’re leaving a firm—the panel wants to replace the first principle in FPSC’s Code of Ethics.
Rather than a simple client-first principle that requires CFPs and FPSC level one certificants to place a client’s interests ahead of their own, the panel proposes a more detailed duty-of-loyalty principle that would “enhance” the duty of those professionals, the FPSC says in a release.
The new principle, which would still require that a client’s interests come first, also addresses conflict of interest disclosure and the duty of CFPs to act with “care, skill and diligence.”
The panel also wants to amend an existing conduct rule (Rule 8) by creating a new one (which would become Rule 7) that provides more instruction on what types of information must be provided to clients in writing and orally. The information listed would include an “accurate and understandable description of the known costs of the services and products” and “information that the client might reasonably want to know in establishing the scope and nature of the relationship” with a CFP or FPSC level one certificant, for example.
The FPSC says in its release that the proposed amendments “will continue to advance professional financial planning in Canada,” and are the product of a working group of CFPs reviewing its current Standards of Professional Responsibility.
The working group was created in 2017 by the standards panel, an independent panel of financial planners and members of the public appointed by the FPSC’s board.
“The standards provide important direction to support the professional practices of financial planners,” says Susan Howe, who chairs the panel, in the press release. “The Standards Panel is committed to ensuring that the standards appropriately evolve over time in tandem with the continuously changing needs and expectations of Canadians and of the profession.”
The panel will review feedback and consider further revisions, and expects the new standards to take effect in January 2019.