Membership holding steady, says IAFP

By Doug Watt | June 8, 2005 | Last updated on June 8, 2005
3 min read

(June 8, 2005) The Institute of Advanced Financial Planners says its 2005 membership stands at 466, down 1% from last year. Of those, 442, or 95%, hold the Registered Financial Planner (R.F.P.) designation.

“While a net decrease in members may not sound like good news, such a slight drop was welcomed as an encouraging sign as the IAFP launches into its third year in the wake of challenges currently facing the profession,” the IAFP said in a news release.

“Quite a few planners retired from the business this year, and I think we’ll continue to see that over the next while. It has to do with age demographics and the increasing challenges of regulation,” says IAFP president Ian Secord.

The institute started up three years ago, when the Canadian Association of Financial Planners created a new organization to administer the R.F.P. mark before joining up with CAIFA to create Advocis.

The IAFP says some of its non-renewing members cited difficulty in meeting the institute’s membership requirements and some were concerned about the lack of public awareness of the R.F.P. mark.

Still, Secord says the IAFP isn’t planning a radical overhaul of its current structure.

“We have no intention of watering down our standards, and are committed to maintaining the R.F.P. as the hallmark of the professional financial planner in Canada,” he says. “We are also determined to increase the profile of the R.F.P. designation now that the IAFP has clearly proven itself to be a viable alternative for the planner seeking to distinguish themselves from the crowd.”

Secord’s remarks come in the wake of Advocis’ somewhat controversial decision to open up its membership ranks to those without professional designations, such as the CFP or CLU.

At its recent conference in Halifax, Advocis vice-chair Roger McMillan said the change acknowledges a simple fact of the industry. “There are some people out there today that are undesignated but are extremely competent. The whole designation thing has passed them by. They just feel that they know what they’re doing, and they do.”

Previously, Advocis stuck firmly to a position that it should focus on designated advisors to help consumers distinguish who was a professional. “We realize now that’s a subset in the industry because there are also insurance advisors and investment advisors who focus just on the transaction,” says Advocis president Steve Howard. “They are professionals too.”

Still, the Advocis about face on designations isn’t sitting well with some advisors. “Advocis announced its designation policy with considerable fanfare a couple of years ago,” said Toronto advisor John De Goey in a recent letter to Advisor’s Edge magazine. “Now, the organization has reneged.

“How can any association which purports to represent the interests of “professional” financial advisors allow people to join without having attained credentials to attest to their professionalism?” he asks.

“My view is that the financial services industry has to come to terms with what it wants to be immediately,” De Goey adds. “The backtracking and posturing has gone on for far too long. If we are to be professionals, then make professional designations mandatory. If we are merely representatives or sales agents or advisors, then cut the crap about being professionals once and for all.”

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Doug Watt