In a Saturday interview with the media during the FPA BE national conference in Boston, Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards CEO Kevin Keller and Chairman Rich Rojeck expressed their satisfaction with an increase in consumers’ unaided awareness of the CFP designation — awareness that now matches that of CPAs.
Keller called the awareness increase — from 17% in 2011 to 34% in 2015 — “amazing,” and said the leadership of the CFP Board expects that number to go up, especially after it restarts its advertising campaign, which will run on National Public Radio and ESPN.
Keller said the Board had set a five-year goal of reaching 33% awareness among consumers in 2011, and that he expects the board of the organization to increase that goal now that it has been exceeded a year earlier.
The $10 million advertising budget, part of the Board’s public awareness campaign, had prompted some grumbling among CFP certificants when it was first announced. Keller mentioned that the Board has a 97% renewal rate among certificants, pointing out that the percentage has risen “since we raised fees” on certificants, largely to pay for the Board’s advertising campaign. Moreover, Keller said the Board had received “good feedback” from certificants on the awareness campaign.
The numbers on consumer awareness came from a Brand Tracking Report conducted by Ipsos. Unaided awareness measures a person’s knowledge about certifications and designations without prior prompting. The Ipsos study focused on what Keller called the CFP Board’s “target demographic,” i.e., a “mass affluent initiator” (MAI) who has investable assets of $100,000 to $1 million, is 35 to 64 years old, and has a “psychographic,” Keller said, that makes them more likely to seek out the services of a financial professional. Marilyn Mohrman-Gillis, the Board’s managing director of public policy and communications, said the MAI tend to “trust experts, like to work with teams” and are “open to advice.”
The May 2015 unaided awareness numbers were: CFP: 34%; CPA: 34%; chartered financial analyst: 12%; chartered life underwriter and chartered financial consultant: 1.2%.
After being prompted about those designations by survey investigators, Keller said 79% of MAIs said they were aware of CFPs, while CPAs got a 95% awareness.