As the membership association for CFP professionals, the Financial Planning Association ensures the voice of our members are heard loud and clear by policymakers who make decisions that affect our members and the profession of financial planning. This work is central to what FPA is and what we endeavor to do for our members as indicated by our primary aim: To elevate the profession that transforms lives through the power of financial planning.
Elevating the profession of financial planning is a calling; a noble cause that FPA has embraced and that requires many facets to be considered and nurtured. To realize our vision and given that financial planning is not currently regulated as a separately recognized profession, our advocacy efforts must remain a priority.
Our passion and commitment to do ‘right’ by our profession and those we serve is matched by well-funded special interests that yield significant influence over policymakers. Many of these special interests are attempting to define financial planning in their image, which doesn’t align with our vision for the profession.
At the start of the year I expressed to our members how important it will be for FPA to advocate on their behalf by having a seat at the table when potential legislation is being discussed. This means FPA cannot sit idly on the sidelines and let others dictate our profession’s future. It means FPA must continue to build on the success of our national and statewide grassroots advocacy efforts through our chapter network and through our army of trained advocacy champions. It means shaping legislation and regulation — whether at the federal or state level — to fit a vision for the profession that’s in the practitioner’s and public’s best interest.
And, it’s what our members want. According to our 2017 advocacy survey of members, 79% want the profession to be recognized as a profession and 83% want it regulated as such. And 87% of members want the term ‘financial planner’ to be defined across all states with 82% desiring title protection of the term at the state level. This is further supported by the 2017 survey of CFP professionals by Fondulas Strategic Research that shows 61% of CFP professionals favor government regulation of financial planners.
We have surveyed our members, engaged in many discussions with volunteer leaders across the country and assessed the landscape. We have heard loud and clear that our members want the profession and the practice of financial planning defined and protected. This means we must remain nimble, engaged and relentlessly seek opportunities to define and guard the profession appropriately. While FPA has been at the forefront of advocating for an unambiguous fiduciary standard, and more recently fighting state legislation that would prohibit CFP professionals from using the marks and encouraging revisions to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to make financial planning fees tax deductible, there is more we can and should do in support of our members and the advancement of the profession.
In the coming weeks and months, we will further engage our members, leaders and communities in discussions on the long-term advocacy strategy FPA employs. These conversations will be critical to ensuring the approach we take is in lockstep with the desires of our members and will be crucial to developing a shared vision we all can champion.
FPA will continue to fight the good advocacy fight on the behalf of our members at both the federal and state levels to influence decision makers and influence legislative and regulatory policy that impacts financial planners and their profession.
Frank Paré, CFP, is the 2018 president of the Financial Planning Association (FPA) and president of PF Wealth Management Group, LLC in Oakland, California.