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|January 4, 2012|
Dear CFP® Professional,
As we enter this New Year, I want to thank you for being part of the CFP® professional community. The past year has been busy for CFP Board, with many initiatives underway that we hope increase the value of the CFP® certification for you and your clients.
In late October, CFP Board had the honor of hosting the fall 2011 meeting of Financial Planning Standards Board Ltd. (FPSB), the organization that owns the CFP marks outside the U.S. At the meeting, we welcomed our international colleagues to our nation’s capital and learned that the number of CFP professionals around the globe was expected to exceed 140,000 by the end of 2011. Here in the U.S., more than 64,000 CFP® professionals are currently certified by CFP Board, and a record number of examinees sat for the CFP® exam during 2011. The growth of the CFP® certification worldwide is remarkable and speaks to the strength and relevance of the CFP® certification.
CFP Board has made the most of recent opportunities to reach out to legislators, regulators, and other policymakers on issues of importance to CFP® professionals and the public that benefits from financial planning. In 2011, we remained engaged on several fronts as several government agencies followed up on the tasks and mandates in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. We delivered to the SEC and Congress a petition with the signatures of thousands of CFP® professionals who expressed support of extending the fiduciary standard for personalized investment advice. And we played a leadership role in sponsoring a major study by the Boston Consulting Group providing an objective look at the costs involved with enhancing investment adviser oversight.
With your support, and with our partners in the Financial Planning Coalition and allies from other consumer and industry organizations, we have been engaged with important public policy debates, giving voice to the concerns of financial planners and advancing issues for the benefit of the public. We expect the coming year will bring more opportunities for CFP® professionals to share their input. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to let us know how you’d like to be involved with our public policy advocacy by completing our Grassroots Advocacy Survey, available through your online CFP Board account at www.CFP.net/login.
Without doubt, the most significant undertaking at CFP Board during the past year was the launch of our Public Awareness Campaign in April 2011. This is the largest national advertising campaign CFP Board has ever undertaken, and the first to feature paid advertisements from CFP Board on national cable television and across multiple online channels. We are getting the word out that the CFP® certification is the recognized standard for financial planning, and CFP® professionals are uniquely qualified to help individuals and families pull together different aspects of their finances.
As we set out to measure the campaign’s effectiveness through an independent research firm, we were pleasantly surprised to see the impact the campaign had already achieved after its first few months. Research shows that after only a few months, measurable progress has been made toward our goal of increased public awareness of CFP® professionals. Consumers have an increasingly positive view of the CFP® certification brand and how the assistance of CFP® professionals is helpful and relevant to them. Our study found that only sixteen weeks after beginning the campaign, 71 percent of “mass affluent” Americans were aware of the CFP® designation –– an increase of 8 percentage points over the awareness level measured during the campaign’s first week.
We continue our work to highlight the value of the CFP® certification for the public through vigorous public relations activities, generating “earned advertising” each month alongside the paid advertising of the public awareness campaign. Since 2009, CFP Board’s Consumer Advocate has been sharing CFP Board’s messages with national media, and in 2010, we introduced the CFP Board Ambassador program to extend our Consumer Advocate message to media in significant local markets around the country. This group of dedicated CFP® professionals now numbers 27, located in 25 regions across the country. And we have seen results, with increased numbers of articles featuring CFP Board and the CFP® certification, generating the equivalent of millions of dollars in paid advertising every month.
2011 also brought continued growth to our outreach to consumers through the Financial Planning Days initiative, in collaboration with the Financial Planning Association®, the Foundation for Financial Planning, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The second annual Financial Planning Days last October was a great success, with events in 31 cities around the country that brought together thousands of people with hundreds of financial planners who volunteered. I appreciate the contributions of the many CFP® professionals who shared their time and financial planning expertise to help people in their communities, and we look forward to an even more successful third year of Financial Planning Days events next October.
Every CFP® professional who displays the CFP® marks proudly helps increase public awareness and respect for the CFP® certification. And with our public awareness campaign, we have introduced several new ways for you to more prominently share your expertise in financial planning with your community, including: customizable versions of the advertisements featured in the public awareness campaign; a range of products featuring the new CFP® (with plaque design) mark featured in CFP Board’s public awareness campaign; a new design for the CFP® certificate; and updates to our “Find a CFP® Professional” search tool that allow you to share more substantive information about your practice with potential clients. If you haven’t yet reviewed these resources or updated your search profile, I encourage you to log in to your CFP Board account at www.CFP.net/login.
CFP Board’s work during the past year would not have been possible without the assistance of many CFP® professionals who shared their time and expertise to further our shared goals. I hope you will consider becoming involved with CFP Board in the coming year, whether it be contributing through a volunteer group or participating in opportunities for conversation with CFP Board’s leadership. In 2012, we will continue our CFP® Certificant Connections, holding town hall-style meetings with CFP® professionals in several parts of the country. And following each of our Board of Directors meetings in 2012, our Business Update Webinar series will continue to provide updates on CFP Board’s activities.
On behalf of all of us at CFP Board, I thank you for being an important part of the CFP® professional community and wish you and your clients a happy and prosperous year.
Kevin R. Keller, CAE
CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER BOARD OF STANDARDS, INC.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete initial and ongoing certification requirements.