Rules of Conduct:
The Rules of Conduct are binding on all members, regardless of their title, position, type of employment or method of compensation. The universe of activities engaged in by a member is diverse, and a member may perform all, some or none of the typical services provided by divorce financial planning professionals.
Violations of the Rules of Conduct may subject a member to discipline. The Rules are applied internally and are not designed to be a basis for legal liability to any third party.
1. Defining the Relationship with the Prospective Client, Client or Divorce Professional
1. The member and the prospective client, client or divorce professional shall mutually agree upon the services to be provided by the member.
1. If the member’s services include divorce financial planning or material elements of divorce financial planning, prior to entering into an agreement, the member shall provide written information or discuss with the prospective client, client or divorce professional the following:
1. The obligations and responsibilities of each party under the agreement with respect to:
i. Defining goals, needs and objectives,
ii. Gathering and providing appropriate data,
iii. The formulation of any recommended actions, and
iv. Implementation responsibilities.
v. Monitoring responsibilities.
2. Compensation that any party to the agreement or any legal affiliate to a party to the agreement
will or could receive under the terms of the agreement; and factors or terms that determine costs.
3. Terms under which the member will use other entities to meet any of the agreement’s
obligations. If the member provides the above information in writing, the member shall
encourage the prospective client, client or divorce professional to review the information and offer to answer any questions that the prospective client, client or divorce professional may have.
1. If the services include divorce financial planning or material elements of divorce financial planning, the member or the member’s employer shall enter into a written agreement governing the divorce financial planning services (“Agreement”). The Agreement shall specify:
1. The parties to the Agreement,
2. The date of the Agreement and its duration,
3. How and on what terms each party can terminate the Agreement, and
4. The services to be provided as part of the Agreement.
The Agreement may consist of multiple written documents. Written documentation that includes the items above and is used by a member or member’s employer in compliance with state or federal law shall satisfy the requirements of this Rule.
1. A member shall at all times place the interest of the client ahead of his or her own. When the member provides divorce financial planning or material elements of divorce financial planning, the member owes to the client the duty of care of a fiduciary as defined above.
2. Information Disclosed to Prospective Clients, Clients and Divorce Professionals
2.1 A member shall not communicate, directly or indirectly, to clients, prospective clients or divorce professionals any false or misleading information directly or indirectly related to the member’s professional qualifications, services or ADFP membership class. A member shall not mislead any parties about the potential benefits of the member’s service. A member shall not fail to disclose or otherwise omit facts where that disclosure is necessary to avoid misleading clients.
2.2 A member shall disclose to a prospective client, client or divorce professional the following information:
1. An accurate and understandable description of the compensation arrangements being offered.
This description must include:
i. Information related to costs and compensation to the member and/or the member’s
ii. Terms under which the member and/or the member’s employer may receive any other
sources of compensation, and if so, what the sources of these payments are and on what they are based.
2. A general summary of likely conflicts of interest between the client and the member, the member’s employer or any affiliates or third parties, including, but not limited to, information about any familial, contractual or agency relationship of the member or the member’s employer that has a potential to materially affect the relationship.
3. Any information about the member or the member’s employer that could reasonably be expected to materially affect the client’s decision to engage the member that the client might reasonably want to know in establishing the scope and nature of the relationship, including but not limited to information about the member’s areas of expertise.
4. Contact information for the member and, if applicable, the member’s employer.
5. If the services include divorce financial planning or material elements of divorce financial planning, these disclosures must be in writing.
The written disclosures may consist of multiple written documents. Written disclosures used by a member or member’s employer that include the items listed above, and are used in compliance with state or federal laws, shall satisfy the requirements of this Rule.
The member shall timely disclose to the client any material changes to the above information.
3. Prospective Client, Client, Divorce Professional Information and Property
3.1 A member shall treat information as confidential except as required in response to proper legal process; as necessitated by obligations to a member’s employer or partners; as required to defend against charges of wrongdoing; in connection with a civil dispute; or as needed to perform the services.
3.2 A member shall take prudent steps to protect the security of information and property, including the security of stored information, whether physically or electronically, that is within the member’s control.
3.3 A member shall obtain the information necessary to fulfill his or her obligations. If a member cannot obtain the necessary information, the member shall inform the prospective client or client of any and all material deficiencies.
3.4 A member shall not borrow money from a client.
3.5 A member shall not lend money to a client.
3.6 A member shall not commingle a client’s property with the property of the member or the member’s employer.
3.7 A member shall not commingle a client’s property with other clients’ property.
3.8 A member shall return a client’s property to the client upon request as soon as practicable or consistent with a time frame specified in an agreement with the client.
4. Obligations to Prospective Clients and Clients
4.1 A member shall treat prospective clients and clients fairly and provide professional services with integrity and objectivity.
4.2 A member shall offer advice only in those areas in which he or she is competent to do so and shall maintain competence in all areas in which he or she is engaged to provide professional services.
4.3 A member shall be in compliance with applicable regulatory requirements governing professional services provided to the client.
4.4 A member shall exercise reasonable and prudent professional judgment in providing professional services to clients.
4.5 In addition to the requirements of Rule 1.4, a member shall make and/or implement only recommendations that are suitable for the client.
4.6 A member shall provide reasonable and prudent professional supervision or direction to any subordinate or third party to whom the member assigns responsibility for any client services.
4.7 A member shall advise his or her current clients of any certification suspension or revocation he or she receives from any entity with which he or she is associated.
5. Obligations to Employers
5.1 A member who is an employee/agent shall perform professional services with dedication to the lawful objectives of the employer/principal and in accordance with ADFP’s Code of Ethics.
5.2 A member who is an employee/agent shall advise his or her current employer/principal of any certification suspension or revocation he or she receives from any entity with which he or she is associated.
6. Obligations to ADFP Board of Directors
6.1 A member shall abide by the terms of all agreements with ADFP Board of Directors.
6.2 A member shall meet all ADFP Board requirements, including continuing education requirements, to retain the right to membership.
6.3 A member shall notify ADFP Board of changes to contact information, including, but not limited to, e-mail address, telephone number(s) and physical address, within forty five (45) days.
6.4 A member shall notify ADFP Board in writing of any conviction of a crime, except misdemeanor traffic offenses or traffic ordinance violations unless such offense involves the use of alcohol or drugs, or of any professional suspension or bar within ten (10) calendar days after the date on which the member is notified of the conviction, suspension or bar.
6.5 A member shall not engage in conduct which reflects adversely on his or her integrity or fitness as a member or upon the profession.