At the Financial Planning Association’s recent broker/dealer conference in Los Angeles, I spotted new FPA President Bob Barry standing at one end of the low-ceilinged exhibit area and smiling at the healthy turnout of more than 600 industry honchos, planners, and B/D reps. He certainly had ample reason to be upbeat. A decade-long board member of the International Association for Financial Planning who helped engineer its 2000 merger with the Institute of Certified Financial Planners, Barry now presides over a 29,000-member group that is rapidly developing its own identity and voice.
But Barry thinks the FPA has a long way to go. He is especially keen on enhancing the association’s value proposition to the public and its membership. “We need to continue to deliver value to members without their having to go to the Success Forum or Retreat, or to chapter meetings,” Barry told me when I caught up with him the other day at his planning practice in rural Hackettstown, New Jersey, where he oversees about $26 million in client assets.
Delivering more value to members in the post-9/11 “tighter budget environment” is not an idle concern. Unlike M.D. or J.D., “financial planner” remains a somewhat amorphous title, and consumers are being confronted with a growing chorus of organizations arguing their claims to financial planning expertise.
In addition to the FPA, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Society for Financial Service Professionals (the CLU-ChFC folks), and the Association for Investment Management and Research are all trying to win consumers over to their approach to financial planning (you can read about what AIMR is up to lately in Cort Smith’s interview, on page 22, with association chief Tom Bowman). And don’t forget the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, with its rigorous entrance requirements and strict, fee-only discipline.