Monday marked the first day that the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Board of Standards’ large-scale Public Awareness Campaign officially launched on television and online, via such national channels as CNN, Fox News, ESPN, HGTV, MSNBC, and the Travel Channel. Print ads about the campaign have been appearing for the past couple weeks in Barron’s, Kiplinger’s, Money, SmartMoney, and The Wall Street Journal.
The CFP Board’s goal in approving the $36 million campaign in November 2010 is partly in response to CFP professionals telling the Board that consumers need to be better informed about CFPs’ role in helping them meet their financial goals. The campaign’s message is “Let’s Make a Plan,” which is supported by www.LetsMakeaPlan.org.
Kevin Keller, CEO of the CFP Board, told reporters during a roundtable discussion at the CFP Board’s headquarters in Washington on Monday, that as a 501c3 non-profit organization, the CFP Board is “advocating for the publics’ interest, not the interests of financial planners, which from time to time causes some confusion.” The CFP Board, Keller continued, is “working on those issues that impact the public at large, especially the elderly.”
The Public Awareness Campaign will also provide clarity to consumers who are looking for guidance on how to choose a financial planner or advisor, which has become harder to do now that there are currently more than “200 designations” for consumers to sift through, Keller (left) said. The CFP Board, he said, wants the “CFP designation to be recognized as ‘the gold standard.’” As of the end of March, 62,600 financial professionals held the CFP mark. The number of CFP certificants, Keller said, has “grown 24 of the last 25 years.” Keller also pointed out that CFPs are business model neutral—that is, CFPs can be fee-only, paid hourly or by assets under management, etc. However, all CFPs must adhere to a fiduciary standard.
The hiking of CFP certificants’ fees has been a somewhat controversial issue, however Tom Crowder, managing director of marketing and business development for the CFP Board, noted at the roundtable the August 2010 study that found 72% of CFP professionals were willing to pay $12 per month to support the Awareness campaign