A meeting with the FPA executive leadership on Sunday at FPA Experience 2012 featured Lauren Schadle, recently promoted from the advocacy organization’s COO to the top spot of CEO, and her immediate plans.
“My biggest immediate challenge is in getting our message out,” she said. “Even though I come from within the organization, I’m looking at my new role with fresh eyes.”
Schadle noted the 1,900 members in attendance at this year’s conference and the quality of sessions focused on client specialization, practice optimization and retirement planning. She also noted the 157 exhibitors in attendance, ‘many of whom are new, mainly in practice enhancement.”
The singling out of practice management companies was by design, as she announced a focus on practice management for the organization with the hiring of two CFPs, James Tissot of New York and Valerie Porter of Indianapolis, as consultants in this area.
She also announced a number of initiatives to help advisors use the resources made available by FPA, including a virtual meeting service, customized marketing pieces through FPA Client Connect and succession planning assistance through FPA Practice Management.
“The average age of our members in 52,” she said. “We’d like to bring that down, so we’re very focused on next-gen.”
She concluded her remarks by noting the organization’s 23,360 members, down from a high of 29,000 immediately following the formation of the group in 2000, but 200 members above the low experienced at the beginning of 2012.
“Our membership numbers have stabilized,” she said, before Paul Auslander, FPA’s 2012 president, added that “taking a stand like suing the SEC will result in not everyone agreeing with us and some will leave, so quite frankly it is good we’re at 23,000 members.”
Auslander had begun the discussion by noting current CEO Marv Tuttle’s departure effective at the close of the conference in San Antonio on Tuesday.
“It’s been a busy year for FPA,” he said. “Marv moved his retirement up due to family considerations. We short-cut our search somewhat, but Lauren would have been on the short-list anyway. We admire Lauren’s operational skills. Marv was great at the ’30,000 foot view,’ and we will benefit from her experience.”
He revisited the organization’s founding in 2000 through a merger of the Institute of Certified Financial Planners (ICFP) and the International Association for Financial Planning (IAFP). A condition of the merger, Auslander said, was a “further embrace and advance of the CFP designation, something that got lost in the message, but there’s been an effort in the past two years to identify one designation, one association and one profession.”
Noting that it’s important for the industry to “coalesce around something,” and how he sees the CFP as a rallying cry and the lens through which it will be viewed going forward.
On the advocacy front, he said “things are quiet now in Washington” and that there is a “lull in the action,’ but he did say he believes the SEC should continue to be the regulatory agency for advisors and that anyone dispensing advice should be subject to a fiduciary standard.
The FPA’s 2013 president-elect, Michael Branham, then said “next-generation is the message I will carry forward into my presidency.”
He noted the 130 CFP baccalaureate financial planning programs in the nation’s colleges and universities, and that the FPA has 22 student chapters within those programs.
He also pointed to the student community on FPA Connect, the organization’s social media platform, as well as “Next-Gen Practitioners,” which are FPA chapters for members age 37 and younger. He also said there would be a focus on getting younger members involved with the board of directors.
Regarding technology, he again mentioned the FPA Connect and the member communities it contains, including Women in Finance and a mentoring group FPA Mentor Match. He also announced he FPA Connect mobile app.
FPA Board Chairman Marty Kurtz then concluded the remarks by mentioning the organization’s focus on diversity, which includes an interactive three-part course to help recruit more minorities into the profession, as well as to understand the financial planning needs of the minority community. He also described a new certificate course in fiduciary responsibility the organization will offer in conjunction with fi360, proprietors of the Accredited Investment Fiduciary designation.
“It’s not the AIF, but rather an eight-module course and certificate,” he clarified.