Some people take pride in their ability to routinely refuse help when it’s obvious to everyone that they desperately need it. But even the most crotchety do-it-yourselfers must feel compelled (or should) to get off the sidewalk and into the street. Who, from time to time, doesn’t crave a little professional companionship, someone off whom to bounce ideas and mooch free advice? Isn’t this why financial trade associations exist? And since these groups can’t be all things to all people–”There is no such thing as fun for the whole family,” as Jerry Seinfeld wisely said–there is an increasing number of them, which we chronicle here in our annual survey of financial planning associations.

Adding their acronyms this year to our list of stalwart regulars like AICPA, FPA, and NAPFA are the National Tax Sheltered Accounts Association; the Association of Independent Trust Companies; the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors; and the Financial Advisors Legal Association (you gotta love the title of FALA’s newsletter, “The Litigious Times”).

Based in Lawrence, Kansas, the National Tax Sheltered Accounts Association (NTSAA) has as its primary purpose to provide a forum for the exchange of information and ideas with the goal of helping members offer the “highest quality of service” to clients and employees participating in 403(b) tax-deferred retirement plans. Formed in 1989, NTSAA says it is the nation’s only independent, nonprofit association dedicated to professionals working with 403(b)s. AITCO, based in Naperville, Illinois, is an association of independent trustees, asset managers, and financial counselors governed by the same state and federal requirements applicable to the trust departments of large banks.

NAIFA, established in Boston in 1890 as the National Association of Life Underwriters, is one of the oldest and largest associations in the insurance and financial field. It changed its name in 1999 to NAIFA in an attempt to more accurately describe its membership base and to attract a wider variety of financial services professionals. Today NAIFA counts as members more than 80,000 life and health insurance agents and financial advisors.

FA Legal, based in Las Vegas, is designed to benefit financial services professionals of nearly every ilk by providing its members with legal defense services in the areas of securities law, SEC and NASD complaints, litigation, and investment-related legal issues. You may have read NASDR’s findings that arbitration claims against securities professionals were up 22% for the year as of the end of May. FA Legal notes that while the average tab to defend a case is $23,000, it only costs $730 to join (membership covers all lawyers’ fees). Recent polling data confirms that the registered financial professional’s greatest fear is litigation. If you’ve received any ominous overtures from clients, you might give FA Legal a call.

Lawsuits notwithstanding, the economy has taken the wind from many a planner’s sails, forcing some to trim budgets and run lean. Has this adversely affected association membership rosters, or has it served as a clarion call to sign up? In the past five years: NAPFA’s membership crept up from 558 to 740; AICPA (its Personal Financial Planning section) grew by 214 persons, to 8,214; and AIMR jumped from 28,763 to 50,000. Five years ago NAIFA had 77,000 members; today it reports a resoundingly non-specific “more than 77,000.” The Society of Financial Service Professionals, however, watched its membership fall from 33,000 to 27,265. A Society spokesperson attributes the lion’s share of this drop to a recent increase in membership dues, from $125 per year to $165. With all the membership perks, it’s hard to fathom anyone quibbling over shelling out an extra $40–about enough to fill a planner’s SUV with gas or foot a modest meal.

When it comes down to it, all our listed associations provide members an invaluable benefit that is aptly noted by FA Legal member Walter Baumgardner: “The exchange of information, which will hopefully make your life easier and less stressful.’” Well, who doesn’t want their life made easier and less stressful, other than those diehard ultra-independents mentioned earlier, who prefer to keep company with themselves?

American Institute of Certified public accountants(PFP Section)

Anat Kendal, CPA, Director, Financial Planning

Jersey City, New Jersey

888-777-7077

www.aicpa.org

Annual membership cost: $100

Annual budget: NA

Permanent staff: 4

membership: 8,214

Membership requirements: An AICPA member with an interest in financial planning

Membership categories: Members; 3,000 are accredited personal financial specialists

Membership demographics: Most members are in small CPA firms and have an average of 15-plus years doing financial planning; 75% are providing investment advice or selling investment products

membership benefits: Newsletter, conference discounts, PFP practice handbook in CD-ROM

Meetings: AICPA PFP Technical Conference (Jan. 7-9, 2002, Orlando)

Publications: Journal of Accountancy; Tax Adviser; The Planner; consumer brochures; PFP Practice Handbook in CD-ROM

How directors are chosen: AICPA nominations committee

future Plans: Increase member and public awareness about CPAs’ role in financial planning and benefits of hiring a CPA with PFS designation; increase content, products, and services offered in the Personal Financial Planning area to support member firm practices

Association of Independent Trust Companies, Inc.

Tom Batterman, President

Naperville, Illinois

630-579-2488

www.aitco.net

Annual membership cost: $750

Annual budget: $269,000

Permanent staff: 2

membership: 200

Membership requirements: State or federally chartered independent trust company (regular member)

Membership categories: Regular; associate; special; resource partner

Membership demographics: NA

membership benefits: Annual conference; newsletter; legislative information; membership directories; marketing assistance.

Meetings: Sept. 13-15, 2001 (Tucson); Sept. 11-15, 2002 (Boston)

Publications: Quarterly newsletter; annual membership directory

How directors are chosen: Voted by membership

future Plans: NA

Financial Advisors Legal Association

Robin S. Kern, President

Las Vegas, Nevada

800-261-0633

www.falegal.com

Annual membership cost: $730

Annual budget: NA

Permanent staff: 10

membership: NA

Membership requirements: Any individual who deems himself a financial professional

Membership categories: Legal services

Membership demographics: NA

membership benefits: Prepaid retainer and legal services; quarterly newsletters; legal flashes; exclusive discounts

Meetings: NP

Publications: Quarterly newsletter, The Litigious Times

How directors are chosen: Qualifications based on professional background within the industry

Future Plans: NA

Financial Planning Association

Guy M. Cumbie, CFP, President;

Robert Barry, CFP,

President-elect;

Janet G. McCallen, CAE,

Executive Director

800-322-4237

www.fpanet.org

Annual membership cost: $275

Annual budget: $15 million

Permanent staff: 75

membership: 29,000

Membership requirements: All members, regardless of designation or lack thereof, agree to adhere to FPA’s Code of Ethics

Membership categories: Financial Planner Division; Allied Professionals Division; Broker/Dealer Division; Corporate Division

Membership demographics: 26,000 members hold a professional designation or license, including approximately 17,000 that hold the CFP certification

membership benefits: Professional networking opportunities through conferences and meetings; 300-plus continuing education credit hours offered each year; free subscription to the Journal of Financial Planning; weekly e-mail newsletter, FPA This Week; advocacy on legislative matters; access to special-interest groups; online information and service through the Web site; business and marketing tools to help members build practices and enhance job performance

Meetings: FPA Broker/Dealer Conference (Jan. 31-Feb 2, 2002, Los Angeles); FPA Success Forum (Sept. 28-Oct. 1, 2002, New Orleans)

Publications: Journal of Financial Planning How directors are chosen: Directors are nominated by members, chapters, and councils of the association; participate in an extensive interview process and are selected by the current Board of Directors

Future Plans: Vision is to achieve universal acceptance of the value of financial planning and be the community that fosters success of the financial planning profession

Investment Management Consultants Association

Evelyn Brust,

Executive Director

DENVER, COLORADO

303-770-3377

www.imca.org

Annual membership cost: $395

Annual budget: $4.7 million

Permanent staff: NA

membership: 2,920

Membership requirements: Active in the industry

Membership categories: NA

Membership demographics: NA

membership benefits: Education; networking opportunities; newsletters; legislative information; professional development

Meetings: IMCA Investment Management Expo (Oct. 4-6, 2001, Dallas)

Publications: The Monitor Newsletter; Journal of Investment Consulting

How directors are chosen: Nominating committee and elected by members

Future Plans: Expand education programs

National Assn. of Insurance & Financial Advisors

Dennis R. Merideth, President

CLU, ChFC

Arthur D. Kraus, CEO,

CLU, ChFC

Falls Church, Virginia

877-866-2432

www.naifa.org

Annual membership cost: $225-$350

Annual budget: $16 million

Permanent staff: 100+

membership: 77,000

Membership requirements: All members, except for associate members, must hold a life license

Membership categories: Active; regular associate; student associate

Membership demographics: Life and heath insurance advisors/agents; multiline agents; financial advisors; many members are NASD-licensed registered reps or registered investment advisors

membership benefits: Legislative representation; subscription to Advisor Today magazine; product discounts; services discounts; continuing education opportunities; local, state, and national meetings; networking; leadership development opportunities; online tools

Meetings: NAIFA Annual Convention and Career Conference (Sept. 8-12, 2001, Salt Lake City); Financial Advisors Forum (April 18-20, 2002, Dallas)

Publications: Advisor Today magazine; Political Frontline; eTips; Financial Services Journal; Messages from the Masters; Financial E-News

How directors are chosen: By state and local association delegates at our annual convention

Future Plans: To develop more programs and tools to enhance membership in NAIFA and advance members’ careers

National Association of Personal Financial Advisors

Steven Kanaly, CFP, Chairman

Buffalo Grove, Illinois

800-366-2732

www.napfa.org

Annual membership cost: $375

Annual budget: $1.9 million

Permanent staff: 8

membership: 740

Membership requirements: Agree to code of ethics and fiduciary oath; at least a bachelor’s degree; specialized education or training; continuing education requirements; must offer comprehensive financial planning services; submission of a written comprehensive financial plan for review by NAPFA membership committee; at least three years’ experience

Membership categories: Member; provisional; sustaining; financial services affiliate; academic affiliate; student affiliate

Membership demographics: Midwest 135; Northeast/Mid-Atlantic 243; South 181; West 181

membership benefits: Consumer referrals; discounts to conferences; monthly newsletter; networking

Meetings: 2002 National Conference (May 16-19, 2002, Nashville); 2003 National Conference (April 24-27, 2003, Sparks, Nevada)

Publications: NAPFA Advisor; Newslink

How directors are chosen: Elected by members

Future Plans: NA

National Tax Sheltered Accounts

Association

Martha L. Sutherland, Executive Director, CEO

Lawrence, kansas

800-543-0152

www.ntsaa.org

Annual membership cost: $195

Annual budget: $675,000

Permanent staff: 3

membership: 1,100

Membership requirements: Pay annual dues; abide by professional code of ethics

Membership categories: Individual; practitioner; product/service provider employee; business official; industry member

Membership demographics: National, all 50 states represented

membership benefits: Bimonthly technically oriented professional journal; toll free technical hotline; discounts on meeting registrations and all publications

Meetings: Annual National Conference (Jan. 5-8, 2002, Tucson)

Publications: NTSAA Advisor; Primer Plus 403(b)

How directors are chosen: Board members are elected by the general membership

Future Plans: Expand membership and services to members; continue to enhance educational programs

Society of Financial Service Professionals

Joseph E. Frack, CPA, CEO

Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

800-927-2427

www.financialpro.org

Annual membership cost: $165

Annual budget: $8 million

Permanent staff: 47

membership: 27,265

Membership requirements: Hold one ore more of the following: CLU, ChFC, RHU, REBC, MSFS, MSM, CEBS, CFP, CPA, JD, CLF; adhere to a strict code of professional responsibility

Membership categories: Regular; associate

Membership demographics: 67% hold two or more professional credentials; average experience in their profession is 25 years.

membership benefits: Continuing education and professional development; Journal of Financial Service Professionals; free E-Bulletin; member discounts

Meetings: Financial Service Forum 2002 (March 3-6, 2002, Seattle)

Publications: Journal of Financial Service Professionals; Newsletters: Assets; 21st Century Retirement; The Financial Monitor; The Business Edge

How directors are chosen: Members elect a total of 19 voting directors, including four members of the executive committee

Future Plans: Continue to provide timely, high-quality continuing education

Association for Investment Management and Research

Thomas A. Bowman, CFA,

President and CEO

Charlottesville, Virginia

800-247-8132

www.aimr.org

Annual membership cost: $225

Annual budget: NA

Permanent staff: 200

membership: 50,000+ in 100 countries

Membership requirements: Varies

Membership categories: Regular; affiliate; CFA Charterholder

Membership demographics: 18% sell side; 45% buy side; 22% institutional and private client investment advisors and consultants; 15% other (regulators, academics, etc.)

membership benefits: Educational programs; conferences; publications; AIMR Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct

Meetings: 2002 AIMR Annual Conference (May 12-15, 2002, Toronto)

Publications: Financial Analysts Journal; The CFA Digest; AIMR Exchange; AIMR Advocate

How directors are chosen: AIMR Board of Governors is composed of 20 governors, 19 of whom are elected by members for staggered three-year terms

Future Plans: NA