Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) announced that it has imposed interim suspensions of the CFP® certification against Patrick Finkelstein and Brian Hobbs, which were both effective as of May 24, 2021.
On April 26, 2021, CFP Board filed a Motion for Interim Suspension Order (Motion) pursuant to Article 2.1.a.1 of CFP Board’s Procedural Rules requesting the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (DEC) issue an Interim Suspension Order against Mr. Finkelstein. He is named as a defendant in a February 2020 criminal matter in Los Angeles, California (Los Angeles County Superior Court, Case No. LAXSA102284-01) charging him with a felony not arising out of the provision of financial services. Mr. Finkelstein was the subject of at least one press report about the incident. Mr. Finkelstein did not timely report the matter to CFP Board. After reviewing the matter, the DEC determined that Mr. Finkelstein’s conduct significantly impinges upon the reputation of the profession and the CFP® certification marks and granted the Motion.
On April 23, 2021, CFP Board filed a Motion for Interim Suspension Order (Motion) pursuant to Article 2.1.a.1 of CFP Board’s Procedural Rules requesting the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (DEC) issue an Interim Suspension Order against Mr. Hobbs. On December 18, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (DEC) filed a civil complaint (Complaint) in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, alleging that Mr. Hobbs used his firm’s block trading account to perpetrate a “cherry-picking” scheme to benefit himself at the expense of four clients. The SEC’s Complaint alleges that, from at least December 2016 through March 2019, Mr. Hobbs, the sole owner and principal of his firm, used the firm’s block trading account to trade options on behalf of three personal accounts and four client accounts. Mr. Hobbs was the subject of at least two press articles discussing the SEC’s allegations. After reviewing the matter, the DEC determined that Mr. Hobb’s conduct significantly impinges upon the reputation of the profession and the CFP® certification marks and granted the Motion.
An interim suspension is a suspension of a CFP® professional’s certification and trademark license during the pendency of proceedings. A Respondent subject to an Interim Suspension Order must not use the CFP® certification marks or state or suggest that Respondent is a CFP® professional while the Interim Suspension Order is in effect. An Interim Suspension Order is a temporary sanction and does not preclude CFP Board from imposing a final sanction. An Interim Suspension Order will remain in place until the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission, or if an appeal is filed, the Code and Standards Enforcement Committee, issues a final order.
The basis for these decisions also may be found on CFP Board’s website at https://www.cfp.net/verify-a-cfp-professional. At that website, the public may check on any individual’s CFP Board disciplinary history and CFP® certification status. The website also provides links to other sources of information about CFP® professionals that may be more recent or that may contain information that has not led to CFP Board discipline and does not appear on CFP Board’s website. That information may include customer disputes, disciplinary actions taken by a regulator or employer, certain criminal matters, and certain financial matters (such as bankruptcy proceedings and unpaid judgments or liens). For those who are subject to Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) or U.S. Securities and Enforcement Commission (SEC) oversight, the website includes links to FINRA’s BrokerCheck and the SEC’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure databases.
CFP Board’s enforcement process is a critical consumer protection. As part of their certification, CFP® professionals agree to abide by CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct. CFP Board enforces its ethical standards by investigating alleged violations and, where there is probable cause to believe there are grounds for sanction, presenting a Complaint containing the alleged violations to the Commission pursuant to CFP Board’s Procedural Rules. If the Commission determines there are grounds for sanction, then it may impose a sanction ranging from a private censure to public censure to the suspension or revocation of the right to use the CFP® marks. CFP Board’s Procedural Rules set forth the process for investigating matters and imposing a sanction where violations have been found.