Editor’s Note: From May 25 to June 4, a delegation of 44 financial planners from the Financial Planning Association and 15 guests will spend a week in China, but sightseeing is definitely a secondary goal. AdvisorOne is partnering with the FPA to tell the story of this trip, with daily dispatch blogs from a number of those planners that will be posted on a special AdvisorOne FPA in China home page. With additional news and feature articles, the FPA in China Special Report will provide advisors with in-person and expert commentary on the world’s second-largest economy.

Prior to the trip, AdvisorOne spoke in mid-May with the FPA in China’s delegation leaders—former FPA Presidents Dan Moisand and Richard Salmen. In Part I of this interview, the two leaders discuss the background for the trip and the place of financial planning worldwide and in China. Look for continuing coverage during the trip, and wrap-ups following the trip, on AdvisorOne. (See Part II of the interview here.)

AdvisorOne: How long has this trip been in development? How big is the delegation?

Dan Moisand: It’s been many years in the making, [FPA member] Neal Salomon had the idea in his head to  put together a People to People trip to Russia, hoping that every few years a similar trip would happen. The [serious planning] started in 2010 when FPA got a hold of me and asked me to put it together; last year at FPA Retreat I was handing out panda bear pins. FPA has done this kind of thing before; we sent a total of 90 people to Russia in 2008—guests and planners. For the China trip we have 44 planners, 15 guests.

AdvisorOne: What’s different about this trip compared to the Russia trip?

Moisand: China has a very well established financial planning community; there are several thousand financial planners who are eager to see us. In Russia we had access to high-level government people, but the hard part was finding actual financial planners there.

Richard Salmen: There was even a fairly good group of financial planners from China who attended the FPA annual conference in Boston in 2008.

AdvisorOne: Why is the FPA doing this? Do you see yourselves as ambassadors for the financial planning profession?

Salmen: Part of what we hope to accomplish is getting to know our fellow financial planners around the world on both the individual level and the professional organization level. What can we do as FPA to collaborate worldwide? The world’s getting flatter all the time; as planners we’re already serving clients with dual country residences or are working outside the country.

Moisand: A little twist is that while we’re involved in a regulatory debate in this country, with many groups trying to define financial planning, but around the planet, financial planning already has standards and processes. The Chinese model may be different because they have different demographics and rules, but the [financial planning] process is the same—whether it’s in Brazil, Indonesia, India or China—following the same process of helping families achieve their financial goals. The whole debate about what constitutes financial planning here, well, there’s no debate [in other countries] about whether the profession is so important that it requires a separate regulatory body and that you need to be licensed to serve clients.

See Part II of the interview here.