At its FPA BE national conference in Boston — marking its 15th anniversary since the merger of the IAFP and ICFP — the leadership of the Financial Planning Association announced on Sunday additions to its board, a new president-elect and additions to its “Knowledge Circles” groupings of FPA members who dialogue on specific topics.
Current President-elect Pamela Sandy said the FPA Board chose on Friday a new president-elect for 2016 — Shannon Pike of Asset Management Advisors in Houston — and added to its board with terms beginning Jan. 1, 2016 for John (Dick) Power of Power Plans in Walpole, Massachusetts; Michael Shockley of RGT Capital Management in Irvine, California; and Todd Stanard of Lincoln Financial Advisors in Paramus, New Jersey.
The new Circles — whose members meet virtually or in person and are “designed to integrate” knowledge on specific topics for members, said CEO Lauren Schadle — cover Women in Finance, tax planning and Theory and Practice, a group designed to match academic researchers and practitioners. They join the existing Knowledge Circles — Business Success, Estate Planning, International/Cross-Border Planning, Investment Planning and Retirement Planning.
FPA President Ed Gjertsen stressed that the Association, which has 24,636 members as of Sept.1, is “compensation neutral — a compensation model can’t be used to indicate competence” — and lauded FPA’s new Media Query service, which links the press with FPA members with expertise in specific areas who agree to serve as sources for reporters. All are CFPs, Gjersten said, and all have gone through media training with FPA’s director of public relations, Ben Lewis.
Schadle pointed out that FPA has four “service lines,” including advocacy, practice management, professional development and community, which takes place on the more local level through FPA’s 93 chapters around the country and two state councils, in California and Florida, and through FPA’s 35 student chapters.
Outgoing FPA Chairwoman Janet Stanzak said that “over these last few years we’ve become focused and intentional on what our value proposition is to members,” which 2016 president-elect Pike elaborated on in a separate interview.
“Like any membership organization, it’s all about the value prop” that the group offers, he said. “In the banking industry they used to say you needed to sell 2.6 products before the customer became ‘sticky’” Pike said, “so that’s what FPA has to do for its members.”
Apparently the value is seen by members, Pike suggested, noting that for the CFP members, the FPA’s membership renewal rate is “in the 90s,” while for non-CFP members the renewal rate is in the 80 percent range.
Of the FPA’s nearly 25,000 members, 17,226 (or 70 percent) are CFPs. Gender-wise, 72 percent of members are men, FPA’s numbers show, while among its younger (age 36 and under) NexGen group men constitute 68 percent with women the other 32 percent. The average FPA member has been affiliated with the association for eight years — 10 years for CFP members — and 26 percent of members are firm owners.
As for improving the diversity of its membership, Gjertsen said doing so has been a strategic initiative since 2006, and noted that its current board has a majority of women and is diverse by sexual orientation. That commitment to diversity was shown as well by two pre-conference sessions held in Boston on Friday: of the Pride Planners Association, which focuses on serving LGBT clients, and the first-ever ‘Quad A’ conference that also took place on Friday — the Association of African American Financial Advisors.
In 2011, said Stanzak, the FPA board reaffirmed its bylaws that FPA was the “home for CFP professionals,” while Gjertsen said that over the past few years the board has made a concerted effort to “flatten the structure” of the group, which he said has been “transformational” for the FPA.
Additional reporting on FPA 2015 annual meeting: