In Age Of Social Media, How Important Is The FPA? How Important Is Any Trade Association In A Socially-Networked World?

Thursday, July 07, 2011 08:48
In Age Of Social Media, How Important Is The FPA?  How Important Is Any Trade Association In A Socially-Networked World?

Tags: financial planning | registered investment advisors | Social Media

Does social networking make trade associations like the Financial Planning Association a relic of the past? It used to be that you needed a trade association to network with likeminded professionals.  No more.


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Social media would seem to undermine the value of a trade association. Now you can establish a group on LinkedIn to represent fee-only advisors, CFPs, or advisors to doctors.

Sites like connect financial planners to one another.

In fact, social media arguably is a more democratic way of maintaining a community because it makes all voices equals, decentralizes leadership, and empowers group members to make their voices heard without approval of a formal board or committees.

This observation came to me as I was writing about the membership slump recently experienced by the Financial Planning Association.

While numerous challeneges undoubtedly contributed to the FPA's 15% membership drop—including the worst recession since FPA's predecessor organization was founded 40 years ago and FPA's controversial advocacy position in support of the fiduciary standard—the rising popularity of social media could also be an important factor.

Social media enables a group of likeminded individuals to communicate with each other.

You don’t need an annual meeting, a physical location, or much staff.

A social network for financial advisors  replaces membership dues with ad revenue.

FPA is different from many financial advisor organizations, such as the CFA Institute, American Institute of CPAs, Investment Management Consultants Association and CFP Board of Standards. Those organizations are not only trade groups, they are licensing bodies. They derive revenue from licensing a professional designation and creating the educational programs supporting their respective designations.

The FPA is not a licensing body and its challenges are different.

Is the continued strength of the FPA important to financial planners?

How can the FPA provide value to advisors in the new world of social networking?



Comments (2)

I think the role of all trade organizations is primarily to provide the opportunity for face to face conversations with others in your industry. I still believe conventions and meetings are the best way to do this.

In the case of the FPA they sponsor at least three very good meetings a year that advisors can get a ton of value from.

Yes, social media is a new way of promoting conversation and interaction between those in the industry, but it's not the only or in many cases, even the best way to promote communication.

Even the social media crowd has tons of face to face meetings. (Think SXSW) So, I think the role of national trade associations is still a good one. They just need to make sure they provide remarkable content for their members in all sorts of ways.

Josh Patrick
Joshco0752 , July 12, 2011
I agree that meeting with fellow human beings is one of the most important aspects of any professional membership; some of my best insights have come from informal "walking down the hall" conversations with colleagues. Social media is a supplement to, not a replacement for, personal contacts.
Patricia , July 13, 2011

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