As Membership Growth Resumes, FPA Looks Inward and to Washington

At annual Retreat, talk of PACs, residency programs, and being heard in DC

The Financial Planning Association (FPA), the largest association of planners in the country, is celebrating its 10th year of existence in 2010 by seeking to strengthen the group internally, while flexing its newfound lobbying muscles in Washington. Speaking at the group's annual Retreat, held this year in San Antonio from April 22-25, FPA Chairman Richard Salmen reported at a Town Hall meeting on April 23 that the membership drop that occurred concomitant with the markets and economic crisis has not only stopped but is being reversed, though he also said "we're going to have to be proactive in reaching out to membership," doing "a better job at being a national organization, working together so the whole is greater than the sum of its parts." FPA President-Elect Marty Kurtz said in a separate interview that when he becomes president, his priorities in the new year are to focus on the individual communities of interest within FPA. "Our world view is shaped by our individual communities," Kurtz admitted, but suggested that the group's diversity was also a strength.

As for FPA's lobbying to have financial planning defined as a profession within the Dodd financial services reform bill, the plain-speaking Kurtz acknowledged that "we're the only profession in the world that is demanding to be regulated by the government" but argued that doing so will not only benefit planners, but will protect clients as well by assuring that everyone who offers financial advice to individuals is playing by the same set of rules; that "clients will understand that they will get transparency and full disclosure. That's why we're doing it."

At the Town Hall meeting, FPA CEO Marv Tuttle responded to a question on whether the group's residency program--a victim of budget cuts in 2009--would be restored by saying there would be such a program this year, in the last week of October in Lake Arrowhead, California, at the University of California at Irvine.

Finally, Mark Johannesen, who runs the FPA's political action committee, called for more group members to contribute to the PAC, pointing out that "it's the only financial planning PAC there is."

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