Record-breaking attendance of more than 400 for the annual FPA Retreat in Palm Harbor, Florida, this week brought some cheer to Financial Planning Association leaders who are still grappling with the five-year-old group’s inability to attract new members. Senior association officials disclosed to Investment Advisor that FPA’s rolls have actually fallen by 500 over the past year, to 27,500. That represents only 60% of those holding certified financial planner marks, the credential that is a requirement for FPA membership.
To try to rev up recruiting, the FPA will soon begin offering free three-month trial memberships to anyone who has won a CFP mark in the past 12 months. The group has also staffed up its membership department, says Executive Director Marv Tuttle, hiring a director, recruitment and retention managers, and others. “Finally, we have our team in place,” he says.
Former President David Yeske and Duane Thompson, the FPA’s Washington-based group director for advocacy, meanwhile, are stepping up their campaign to raise cash for the association’s political action committee, which currently holds a modest $52,000. In the FPA’s suit against the Securities & Exchange Commission over the so-called Merrill Lynch rule and other issues, “regulators have been very good about listening,” says Yeske. “But listening and being influenced by us are different things. It takes money–it’s the nature of political relationships in Washington.”