Professional Responsibilities

To adapt to an evolving profession and regulatory landscape, in addition to the existing regulatory framework for CPAs, the AICPA promulgated the Statement on Standards in Personal Financial Planning Services (the statement), which establishes authoritative guidance and enforceable standards for members who provide personal financial planning services. The statement becomes effective on 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.

Learn more about specific issues related to personal financial planning services:
Objectivity, Independence and Disclosure
Independence and Conflicts of Interest
Commissions and Referral Fees
Fiduciary Standard of Care

AICPA Code of Conduct

AICPA members are bound by the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct. Rule 201 requires that members provide professional services with competency. In the delivery of personal financial planning services, a member shall adhere to the following Principles of Professional Conduct.

ET Section 52 – Article I – Responsibilities
In carrying out their responsibilities as professionals, members should exercise sensitive professional and moral judgments in all their activities.

Section ET 53 – Article II – The Public Interest
Members should accept the obligation to act in a way that will serve the public interest, honor the public trust and demonstrate commitment to professionalism.

Section ET 54 – Article III - Integrity
To maintain and broaden public confidence, members should perform all professional responsibilities with the highest sense of integrity.

Section ET 55 – Article IV – Objectivity and Independence
A member should maintain objectivity and be free of conflicts of interest in discharging professional responsibilities. A member in public practice should be independent in fact and appearance when providing auditing and other attestation services.

Section ET 56 – Article V – Due Care
A member should observe the profession's technical and ethical standards, strive continually to improve competence and the quality of services, and discharge professional responsibility to the best of the member's ability.

Access the Code

Statement on Standards in PFP Services

CPAs who provide personal financial planning advice are often viewed as clients’ most trusted advisors. Personal financial planning is the process of identifying personal financial goals and resources, designing financial strategies, and making personalized recommendations (whether written or oral) that, when implemented, assist the client in achieving these goals. This process may include implementation of recommendations or monitoring or updating the engagement. PFP services encompass one or more of the following activities:

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

The Personal Financial Planning Executive Committee has issued this Statement on Standards in PFP Services as authoritative guidance for members who provided PFP services to assist them in fulfilling their professional responsibilities.