In mid-December, the CFP Board redesigned their consumer facing website, LetsMakeAPlan.org, to include updated content and a modernized interface with a mobile friendly design to improve user experience, educate consumers on financial planning concepts, and provide resources to find and evaluate CFP professionals. The CFP Board partnered with Heart + Mind Strategies LLC to conduct an intensive consumer research study from June-September 2020 to inform the redesign of the website. From their findings, the Board concluded that “consumers preferred that LMAP provide content that enables them to gain a better understanding about financial planning, information on how to evaluate the best way forward with a financial professional, and guidance in searching for a CFP professional that fits their circumstances. From this research, the Board”.
This is a welcomed change following their updates earlier in the year where the CFP Board removed compensation information from the listings of CFP professionals on the “Find a CFP Professional” tool in preparation for the June 30 enforcement date of its revised Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct, stating that “the appropriate F-word consumers should consider is ‘Fiduciary,’ not “Fees,”.
What was Added?
The first change you might notice is the visual update that makes the website more aesthetically pleasing and intuitive to use, especially for mobile users.
In terms of content, the first change the CFP Board mentions is the expansion of site content to cover topical knowledge and guidance that consumers are seeking from a financial planner, including retirement planning, investment advice and management, and tax and estate planning.
The resources for finding and evaluating a CFP professional also feature an updated set of questions to prepare clients for a possible engagement with a financial planner, and overall making it easier to background check a planner.
What was Removed?
The most controversial part of the update was that the removal of the payment method information for each CFP was not reversed. If a customer is searching for a CFP, they will not be able to tell whether they are commission-only, fee-only, or both, unless the customer has a conversation with their prospective advisor. The CFP Board claims there were many reasons why they made this change, including their neutral stance on business models and compensation methods, as well as their belief that the compensation method listings were not meaningful to the consumer.
The website does include a page that lists common payment methods with explanations on how each one works, and after listening to the publics feedback, the board says that in a future site update they will be adding a feature that will add new information to CFP professionals’ listings about how a consumer pays for the planner’s services, such as hourly fees, flat fees or a percentage of assets under management, among other options. These payment types will also be included in an optional search filter for the “Find a CFP Professional” tool.
LMAP will continue to include the disciplinary history of CFP® professionals as well as a direct link to the certificant’s profile in FINRA’s BrokerCheck and the SEC’s IAPD (Investment Adviser Public Disclosure) websites.
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