Originally posted on the Wall Street Journal by Jason Zweig.
Many people seeking a financial adviser begin their search at LetsMakeAPlan.org, a directory operated by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc.
The Board, which controls the CFP label coveted by financial planners, boasts of its high standards and has touted its directory of professionals as a place where people can find a screened, skilled and trustworthy financial planner.
What they won’t find there is any indication that thousands of the planners bearing the board’s seal of approval have had customer complaints or faced criminal or regulatory problems—often directly related to their work with clients. More than 60 have filed for bankruptcy within the past decade although the website says they haven’t disclosed such an event in the last 10 years.
The LetsMakeAPlan.org site has been presenting more than 6,300 planners without showing such problems even though the planners have disclosed them to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of more than 72,000 profiles on the website.
The Journal compared data on the LetsMakeAPlan.org site against records kept by Finra, an industry-funded watchdog with legal authority to regulate brokers.
Among the planners the Journal’s analysis flagged, more than 5,000 have faced formal complaints from their clients over investment recommendations or sales practices, and hundreds have been disciplined by financial regulators or left brokerage firms amid allegations of misconduct. At least 140 faced or currently face felony charges, including one who pleaded no contest to a charge of possessing child pornography.
Read the rest at the Wall Street Journal.