FPA Says Membership Decline Is Over, But How Can We Tell?

Friday, May 06, 2011 07:10
FPA Says Membership Decline Is Over, But How Can We Tell?

Tags: financial planning

After a contentious decade, the Financial Planning Association says the worst is behind it. But while the rhetoric is welcome,  it's hard to gauge concrete progress.

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The FPA is boosting morale by touting recent efforts to support the planning profession among women, younger professionals, and lawmakers alike.


On the whole, it's great stuff. It's good to see the FPA lobbying in Washington again and the continued emphasis on putting clients first is definitely welcome.


But when I saw that CEO Marv Tuttle says the "downward spiral in membership numbers is over," I had to wonder what that means. Has the pace of decline -- from a peak of over 28,000 members five years ago to a reported 23,687 more recently -- slowed or stopped? 


Or is the FPA actively signing new members again?


Turns out the organization's press kit still claims 28,500 members -- not just once, but twice in the same document.


But when I did an informal survey of the members across the country who've agreed to be represented in the FPA's online database, I had a hard time accounting for more than 12,000 of them.


There are definitely a lot more than 12,000 FPA members out there. There are probably about 15% to 20% fewer than 28,500.


Somewhere in between, we can gauge the organization's recovery.


(In the meantime, why aren't more planners signing up to be on the site? It's a free source of referrals and pulls in thousands of viewers a month -- and a lot of them are prospects hungry to find a planner.)


Comments (2)

Scott --- Our significant membership decline was concentrated in about an 18 month period between late 2008 to mid-2010 from 28K to 23,7K. Since then, we have flattened out. We will be close to 23,7 at the end of our fiscal year which is May 31. Our marketing focus is on acquiring new members to FPA. This is the one membership revenue bucket that was most negatively impacted. Our membership renewal rates were affected short-term but we're seeing those return to previous norms.

As for our Planner Search referral service, I ask myself the same question you are asking. It's a great tool. We do significant marketing of it through search engine optimization and on-line advertising. We promote Certified Financial Planner practitioners who are registered investment advisers. They are required to opt-in to participate and also have the ability to enhance their listings with additional information for consumer consideration. Marv Tuttle
mtuttle , May 11, 2011
Mr Tuttle! Thank you very much for reading and for the clarification -- if membership is going in the right direction again, it's great news.

As a fan of the Planner Search, I wonder if promoting the success stories to the membership would help boost participation. I know quite a few planners who've won significant new clients simply through their listings in the database -- and once the profile is online, the prospects do all the work on their own.

(Naturally I'd love the database to be comprehensive so I can see at a glance how many active members there are, but this is a lot bigger than me.)
ScottMartin , May 11, 2011

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