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Statement on Standards in Personal Financial Planning Services Toolkit

Use these tools and guidance to know how to apply the Statement on Standards in Personal Financial Planning Services.

The AICPA’s Statement on Standards in Personal Financial Planning Services (SSPFPS No. 1), was issued to provide authoritative guidance and establish enforceable standards for members practicing in PFP. SSPFPS No. 1 was issued in January 2014 and is effective beginning July 1, 2014.

CPAs are licensed and regulated by their state boards of accountancy. Additionally, all AICPA members are required to follow a rigorous Code of Professional Conduct which requires that they act with integrity, objectivity, due care, competence, fully disclose any conflicts of interest (and obtain client consent if a conflict exists), maintain client confidentiality, disclose to the client any commission or referral fees, and serve the public interest when providing financial services. The vast majority of state boards of accountancy have adopted the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct within their state accountancy laws or have created their own.

Over the past three decades, a growing number of CPAs have expanded into providing personal financial planning services to individuals and families. The Compliance Toolkit was designed to provide non-authoritative guidance via checklists, engagement letters, and more to aid in compliance with SSPFPS No.1. For an overview of the challenges facing practitioners and the tools available to provide CPAs with guidance in determining whether SSPFPS No. 1 compliance is required, listen to this podcast on Understanding and Applying the Statement on Standards in PFP Services.

Statement on Standards in PFP Services No. 1

The statement has been developed to assist in delivering personal financial planning services with competence and confidence. Seasoned, experienced practitioners and those new to the service area will benefit from having a framework to guide their work with clients in the development of their personal financial plan. The framework of the statement covers the following topics:

  • General professional responsibilities

  • Responsibilities of members in PFP engagements

  • Planning the PFP engagement

  • Obtaining and analyzing information

  • Developing and communicating recommendations

  • Implementation engagements

  • Monitoring and updating engagements

  • Working with other service providers

  • Using advice provided by other service providers

Download the standard

Standards in PFP: Compliance Toolkit

To aid in determining both applicability of SSPFPS No.1 and compliance with it, the AICPA has developed the Standards in PFP: Compliance Toolkit, which is included with PFP Section and CPA/PFS credential holder membership.

The following resources provide nonauthoritative guidance to assist with compliance with SSPFPS No. 1 (the standard). These resources are provided to assist you in compliance with the standard but are not required.

The sample engagement letters and checklists are intended to be customized for use in any practice format to meet the needs of your practice and individual engagements (see “Terms of use”). You should review language used in the sample engagement letters and checklists in conjunction with reviewing requirements of the standard and add, delete, or otherwise revise as you deem appropriate.

SSPFPS Compliance Manual

The manual addresses why SSPFPS is important to members in the protection of clients and their practice.

Standards in Personal Financial Planning Services (SSPFPS) Flowchart

This flowchart will assist you in determining when the Statement on Standards in Personal Financial Planning Services (SSPFPS) No. 1 will apply to a member.

Understanding and Applying the Statement on Standards in PFP Services | PFP learning library webcast archive

Clark Blackman and Dirk Edwards lead members through a discussion on the nature and objective of the SSPFPS and when and to whom it applies.

SSPFPS Pre-Engagement Checklist

This pre-engagement worksheet can help you to stay in compliance with the SSPFPS as you contemplate working with a potential client.

SSPFPS Post-Engagement Checklist

The post-engagement worksheet can assist you to stay in compliance with SSPFPS and to improve your workflow.

SSPFPS Documentation Checklist

This checklist helps you to maintain evidence that you gathered needed documentation from the client to stay in compliance with SSPFPS.

Sample General Engagement Letter

Customize the sample engagement letter to use with your personal financial planning engagements and to assist in compliance with the SSPFPS.

Sample Implementation Engagement Letter

Customize the sample engagement letter for implementation engagements and to assist in compliance with the SSPFPS.

Sample Letter for Monitoring and Updating Engagements

Customize the sample engagement letter for monitoring and updating engagements and to assist in compliance with the SSPFPS.

Statement on Standards in Personal Financial Planning Services FAQs

Better understand PFP applicability rules and stay compliant with the Statement on Standards in Personal Financial Planning Services (SSPFPS) with these FAQs.

Guide to Investment Advisory Business Models

This guide provides you with an overview of the investment advisory market. CPAs are well positioned to add investment advisory services to their business.

Standards in Personal Financial Planning Services compliance slides

Use this PowerPoint to educate firm professional staff on the requirements of SSPFPS and how to apply it in your practice.

The New AICPA Personal Financial Planning Standards Podcast

In this podcast, Clark Blackman and Dirk Edwards lead members through a discussion on the nature and objective of the SSPFPS and when and to whom it applies.

Acknowledgements

Responsibilities in Personal Financial Planning Services Subcommittee
Clark Blackman II, Past Chair - PFP Executive Committee and Past Chair - Subcommittee
Dirk Edwards, Past Chair - PFP Executive Committee and Chair - Subcommittee
Richard Fohn, Past Chair - PFP Executive Committee
Charles Kowal, Past Member – PFP Executive Committee

Personal Financial Planning Services Standards Review Task Force
Dirk Edwards, Chair
Nancy Hyde, Tax Practice Responsibilities Committee
Anthony King, PCPS Executive Committee
David McIntee, PCPS Executive Committee
William Pirolli, Past Chair - PCPS Executive Committee
Thomas Purcell, Tax Practice Responsibilities Committee
Norma Schrock, Vice Chair - Tax Practice Responsibilities Committee

AICPA Staff
Anthony Pugliese, Senior Vice President & Chief Operating Officer
Michael Buddendeck, General Counsel
Edward Karl, Vice President, Taxation
James Metzler, Vice President, Small Firm Interests; Public Practice and Global Alliances
Jeannette Koger, Director, Member Specialization & Credentialing
Andrea Millar, Senior Technical Manager, Personal Financial Planning Division
Sarah Bradley, Technical Manager, Personal Financial Planning Division

Thank you to all of our volunteers and staff who have contributed over the last two decades!

Personal Financial Planning Section

You'll gain additional support and access to exclusive resources when you join the AICPA's Personal Financial Planning Section. As a CPA, you can further demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in personal financial planning with the Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) credential.

Terms and Conditions for Readers

The Compliance Toolkit is designed to provide illustrative information with respect to the subject matter covered. It does not establish standards or preferred practices. The material was prepared by AICPA staff and volunteers and has not been considered or acted upon by the AICPA board of directors and does not represent an official opinion or position of the AICPA. It is provided with the understanding that the AICPA staff is not engaged in rendering any legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. The AICPA makes no representations, warranties, or guarantees about, and assumes no responsibility for, the content or application of the material contained herein and expressly disclaims all liability for any damages arising out of the use of, reference to, or reliance on such material.
Although much thought and effort have gone into the development of these tools, they are subject to change. These tools are issued as drafts only, and you retain responsibility for their final content. Please review them carefully and make any changes necessary for your specific use.

Terms of Use
Access to the Compliance Toolkit is intended as an individual benefit of PFP Section membership, inclusive of CPA/PFS credential holders. The Compliance Toolkit was created by and copyrighted to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, which reserves all rights. Except in the context of performing client services, reproduction, redistribution, republication or resale of this product by the member granted access is prohibited. Should AICPA omit or decline to enforce any aspect of these Terms of Use at any given time or instance, such non-enforcement does not constitute and should not be construed as a waiver of AICPA’s rights as to any other or future instance. For more information about the terms of use for the Compliance Toolkit, or to request permission for a use which exceeds these limitations, please contact AICPA’s Licensing, Rights & Information Services Team at 919.402.4031 or via email.