Personal financial planning


The AICPA released an exposure draft (tinyurl.com/nam43yy) of a proposed Statement on Standards in Personal Financial Planning Services on June 11 as part of an initiative that’s expected to help boost the profile of CPA PFP practitioners.

The proposal outlines members’ responsibilities in PFP engagements. These responsibilities include:

  • General professional responsibilities;
  • Responsibilities of members in PFP engagements;
  • Planning the PFP engagement;
  • Obtaining and analyzing information;
  • Developing and communicating recommendations;
  • Monitoring and updating engagements;
  • Working with other service providers; and
  • Using advice provided by other service providers, and documenting the engagement from start to finish.


The standards, which have been drafted over a multiyear process, are designed to protect both the public and CPA PFP practitioners. The codification of best practices is designed to benefit the public by helping to ensure consistency in the regulation and delivery of financial planning services by CPAs. For CPAs, the standards provide clear competency guidelines and further boost the profile of practitioners who are AICPA members.

The new standards affect personal financial planners who provide the following services:

  • Cash flow planning;
  • Risk management/insurance planning;
  • Retirement planning;
  • Investment planning;
  • Estate/gift/wealth transfer planning;
  • Elder planning;
  • Charitable planning;
  • Education planning; and
  • Tax planning.


The standard applies when a member provides PFP services and does any of the following: 

  • Represents to the public or clients that the member provides PFP services;
  • Engages in activities that would require registration as an investment adviser under federal or state law; or
  • Sells a product as a result of the engagement.


The standard does not apply, regardless of whether it is provided as part of a PFP engagement, to professional services subject to other professional standards, such as: 

  • Compilation of personal financial statements subject to the Statement on Standards for Accounting and Review Services No. 6, Reporting on Personal Financial Statements Included in Written Personal Financial Plans (AICPA, Professional Standards, AR sec. 600); 
  • Tax services subject to the Statements on Standards for Tax Services (SSTSs); 
  • Valuation services subject to the Statement on Standards for Valuation Services (SSVS) No. 1, Valuation of a Business, Business Ownership Interest, Security, or Intangible Asset (AICPA, Professional Standards, VS sec. 100).


When the standard does apply to a member, its application is only to the PFP services provided and not to those services covered by other professional standards.

The exposure draft of the standards is available for public comment until Sept. 9. After the comment period ends, the Personal Financial Planning Executive Committee (PFP EC) will review and respond to comments. Comment letters will be posted to the website after the comment period closes and will be a matter of public record for one year.

The proposed statement will be effective for applicable members on Jan. 1, 2014. This effective date is provisional but will not be earlier than the date of adoption by the PFP Executive Committee.

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