Costello upbeat heading into CIFPs conference

By Steven Lamb | June 10, 2004 | Last updated on June 10, 2004
3 min read

(June 10, 2004) There’s a certain comfort that comes from being part of a crowd. When trying to make your voice heard on the political or regulatory stage, the size of your organization can be an asset. The more members your group represents, the louder their voice.

But while there may be strength in numbers, this can come at a cost. The more voices within the organization, the harder it can be to maintain focus.

Keith Costello, managing director of the Canadian Institute of Financial Planners (CIFPs), wants to steer his association in the other direction, aiming to make his fledgling organization the voice for financial planners.

“What we’re trying to do is promote financial planning as a profession,” says Costello. “We don’t think there is any other association out there doing that other than the [Financial Planners Standards Council (FPSC)].”

As a relatively young organization, the CIFPs is working to not only stake out its role in the financial services sector, but also working on recruiting members. Costello says the focus is attracting “quality” members, rather than sheer quantity. If advisors don’t offer planning services, they need not apply.

“We need a certain number of members to survive as an association, but we need the right people,” he says. “We’re quite happy to have a good quality organization that can offer input to the public, to the FPSC, to the financial planning community and add a contribution to its members and other stakeholders. We’re not out to be a massive organization that lets anyone and everyone in.

“The challenge is that Advocis thinks we’re a competitor, but we don’t see that.”

Costello says the association has already gathered about 1,400 members, with a goal of hitting 2,000 by next February and 5,000 in five years’ time.

“We just went through our first renewal cycle and we’re getting renewals. It shows us there is a longer term affinity with the group — that we’re going to be here for a long time,” he says. “On the financial side, I think with membership growth we’ll break even in the next fiscal year, which is February 2005.”

Costello says CIFPs is becoming a more recognized name within the financial services industry, as financial planners seek an association which will focus on their profession.

“People are looking for value — why should I join this association? What can it do for me? How can it help me serve my clients?” he says. “That value comes from strong professional development events, good errors and omissions insurance (E&O) coverage and continuing education. It’s the things that go beyond the certification services they need.”

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  • So far CIFPs has developed an E&O program for its members and added fee-based advisors to the coverage. The association will also be issuing a set of “best standards of practices” for financial planners, tied into the standards of the FPSC, with the release slated for late fall.

    From June 13 to 16,CIFPs meets in Ottawa, following the organization’s first full year in operation.

    “We really focused upon the professional development part of the conference,” he says and the conference will follow three tracks, including insurance, financial planning and practice management.

    The conference’s list of speakers includes two representatives from the FPSC. Ann Bowman, vice-president of marketing, will be presenting research on demographics to the members while CEO Cary List will be speaking about practice standards.

    The CIFPs conference will include the annual general meeting on June 15, where the group will outline its progress over the past year, lay out its plans for the future and offer an opinion on where the profession is heading.

    For more information about the conference or to register, go to the CIFPs Web site at or by clicking here.

    Filed by Steven Lamb,,


    Steven Lamb