Advocis Conference Update: Chair acknowledges drop in membership

By Doug Watt | May 12, 2005 | Last updated on May 12, 2005
2 min read

(May 12, 2005) Outgoing Advocis chair Randy Reynolds says the country’s largest advisor association has lost nearly 20% of its members. Last year, Advocis substantially increased membership fees to deal with a revenue shortfall.

In a surprisingly frank speech at the opening of the Advocis national conference today in Halifax, Reynolds conceded he failed to meet two key goals in his one-year tenure as chair.

“I wanted to make sure that the membership grew, and it didn’t,” he said. “I wanted to make sure that we made a profit and we didn’t.”

Advocis membership is currently hovering around 13,000, Reynolds said (down from about 16,000 this time last year, according to Advocis estimates). But he says the trend is starting to shift in the opposite direction. “We are now recruiting new members and we are poised to grow to a larger organization,” he said.

“The more members we have, the lower the unit cost of doing business on your behalf. Then we can keep your dues where they are or even lower. And the larger we are, the more clout we have with politicians and regulators when representing you in Canada.”

The Vancouver-based chair said Advocis faced what he called “a period of crisis in the organization and it was on my watch — our finances were in rough shape, our revenues were declining and we couldn’t sell our educational materials like we used to.”

To deal with the crisis, Advocis made the controversial decision to increase fees for 2005, as much as double in some cases, generating hostility among some in the advisor community. But Reynolds says the fee boost was necessary. “We had a divergence of revenues and expenses and some very serious issues.”

Reynolds also said today that the association may have made a mistake when it decided nearly five years ago that by 2010, all Advocis members must have some type of designation or be forced to leave the organization.

“If there are 100,000 people in Canada who hold themselves out to be financial advisors, it’s important that the majority of those advisors be related somehow to Advocis,” Reynolds said.

To remedy that, the Advocis board is proposing the introduction of a new membership category that would allow the association to bring in non-accredited advisors, potentially adding thousands of new members, Reynolds predicted.

At Friday’s annual general meeting, Advocis members will also be asked to approve a budget for a new public awareness strategy, Reynolds added. “We have a real challenge getting the public to know what Advocis does and what it means, noting that many other financial professionals, such as analysts and accountants, have an advertising and public relations strategy. The only organization that doesn’t have a defined public relations and advertising strategy is Advocis.”

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