The Financial Planning Association hosted a townhall-style meeting at its 2011 Retreat in Bonita Springs, Fla., Thursday afternoon that included frank comments about the state of the organization, where it’s been and where it’s going.
It was near the end of the event that the organization’s CEO and executive director, Marv Tuttle, mentioned the organization’s controversial split with the broker-dealer members of FPA who would form the Financial Services Institute (FSI) in 2003.
“It was rumored we kicked people out of FPA,” Tuttle said. “We never did that. We recognized we could not in good conscience serve two masters and have advocacy agendas for both financial planners and broker-dealers. Even though it was a hit to our budget, the board made the courageous decision to disassociate ourselves because it was the right thing to do.”
Furthermore, Tuttle (left) reported that the “downward spiral” in the organization’s membership had ceased. “We fell from 28,000 members to 23,500 members,” he said. “It was a tumultuous time. We reduced our budget and our staff to do what we had to in order to get our message out and continue to serve members.”
The session featured Tom Potts, FPA's 2011 chairman; President Martin Kurtz; and, President-Elect Paul Auslander. Participants delivered prepared remarks and took questions from the audience ranging from FPA’s present health and stability to advocacy and political issues and a call for more women to be included in the organization’s leadership.
Kurtz spoke first, noting that some organizations shy away from difficult discussions that affect their members, and pointed to the blue bracelets handed out at the retreat that read, “clients first.”
“It’s a small but symbolic step to put it out there,” Kurtz said.
Kurtz (left) mentioned the importance of advocating for the implementation of the current SEC fiduciary standard proposals, and said he has been crisscrossing the country speaking with advisors and other interested parties about the issue. Kurtz (left) also noted an increase in the number of FPA-affiliated student groups on college campuses, and an increase in the number of international FPA-affiliated groups as well.
“The international groups want to actively market and promote FPA-USA,” he said. “You might ask yourself why? It’s because they like the level of our standard of care and see it as a model for what they are trying to achieve.”
Kurtz also mentioned the Women and Finance community that the organization recently established, and explained that when the leadership invited all female FPA members to join, 400 immediately did so, and it is now the largest community group in the FPA organization. That fact received applause from audience members.
He finished his remarks by noting the success of the NextGen community, and passed the microphone to Auslander. The president-elect read from a laundry list of initiatives the organization was taking with politicians and regulators in the federal and state governments.