FPA Experience 2011 kicked off in San Diego on Thursday with a plea from Marty Kurtz, this year’s president, to let bygones be bygones.
Kurtz (left), introduced by the organization’s taskforce chair, Evelyn Zohlen, opened with a brief history of the organization and the merger between the Institute of Certified Financial Planners (ICFP) and the International Association for Financial Planning (IAFP) that was its origin.
He then said he hoped attendees would leave with “a notebook full of ideas, a briefcase full of new business cards” and a wrist band handed out at the event with the slogan, “Clients First.”
“We can all point to a specific niche we are a part of, but we are truly unified in purpose,” Kurtz said. “Everyone in this country needs a third party with which to discuss life-changing events. It is far too complicated for them to do on their own.
“And it needs to be done in accordance with the highest fiduciary standard,” he added to applause.
Kurtz then addressed an ongoing controversy about the organization; its mission, execution and history.
“I’m going to resend a message that’s been sent before,” he said. “FPA was launched in January of 2001 as a result of the merger [between ICFP and IAFP]. It threw its door open to any advisor who subscribed to its values and core mission. Yes, there have been challenges, which include the spinoff of the broker-dealer industry [establishment of FSI], our bold stance against the SEC and the market turbulence of 2008. FPA is not only still standing, but back on a path to growth. Why? Because we are great at who we are.”
Noting the merger was almost 12 years ago, he said to those still arguing over which previous organization “won” and which caved, that it is “time to move on.”
“FPA is about values, community, local chapters and financial planning that is done with a standard of care,” he said. “It is about serving as a credible voice to the public.”
He told those with “biases and stale opinions” to set them on the other side of the table and put clients first.
“Through my travels, I’ve come to find out that many other countries do not operate under a fiduciary standard of care,” Kurtz said. “As more financial advisors begin to accumulate and manage their own wealth, they are beginning to advocate for one like in our own country. With that as the backdrop, I am dismayed at the segmentation of clients that goes on here at home.
“We need to serve all Americans,” he added, which again drew applause.
He concluded by saying he sees the financial planning profession as one day integrated with law, medicine, psychology and social services.
He concluded his remarks by introducing the 2011 P. Kemp Fain, Jr. Award winner, Lewis J. Walker. The award recognizes an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the financial planning profession in the areas of service to society, academia, government and professional activities. They must also exemplify the FPA’s Core Values of integrity, competence, dedication to relationship building and stewardship.