No. of Recommendations: 8
Wall Street Journal finds that 11% of Certified Financial Planners who work for insurance companies or Wall Street firms are lying to their clients by calling themselves "fee only".

Over the past week, my colleague Rob Barry analyzed the descriptions of 33,949 certified financial planners who were then listed in’s public-search area. He found that 8,122, or 24%, described their compensation method as “fee only.” A mere 3% called themselves “commission only,” while 59% said they earn “commission and fee”; 14% didn’t specify how they are paid.

However, The Wall Street Journal’s analysis finds that many of the CFPs listed on who work at major Wall Street banks and brokerages have been identifying themselves as “fee only.” Among the firms: Morgan StanleyMS -1.43%, UBSUBSN.VX -0.82%, J.P. Morgan ChaseJPM +0.09%, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Wells FargoWFC -0.26%, LPL Financial HoldingsLPLA +0.13%, RBC, Raymond James FinancialRJF -1.23% and Ameriprise FinancialAMP -1.28%. At those firms alone, the Journal identified 661 listed CFPs who call themselves “fee only.”

Those who work for brokerage firms and insurance companies will no longer be able to say they are “fee only” in their online profile, Mr. Keller says. Any CFP who doesn’t comply, he says, will be investigated by the board. Until “any potentially misleading information” is removed, Mr. Keller says, the public won’t be able to search for a “fee-only” planner, although other information will remain available.

Mr. Keller says the CFP Board hadn’t been aware of the problem earlier because the board, which lacks the powers of a regulatory agency, expects that CFPs “accurately disclose their compensation, know our rules and follow our rules.”

He adds, “We wouldn’t have sat on this data if we’d known it was there.”


I'm shocked. This is really going to damage my opinion of financial advisors.

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