ORLANDO, Fla. -- Financial planning “is still a relatively young profession with a lot of growing pains,” according to the incoming president of the FPA.

A host of unresolved issues -- including the competition between more than 100 financial planning designations, as well as uncertain career paths for younger planners, disputes over the definition of “fee-only” planning and whether or not the CFP Board should be a continuing education provider -- are all indicators of “a younger, new profession trying to find its way in the world,” Janet Stanzak said at a press conference Sunday afternoon at the FPA’s annual conference in Orlando, Fla.

Recognition and regulation of the profession remain the association’s biggest challenges, says Stanzak, who takes offices in January and is principal of Financial Empowerment in Bloomington, Minn.

The FPA remains dedicated to equating the financial planning profession with a trusted credential -- namely the Certified Financial Planning designation, Michael Branham, the association’s current president, told members at the general session Sunday afternoon.

That certification is a “steep” hill to climb, “but attainable,” Branham said.

COMING SOON: PRACTICE INSTITUTE, NEW WEBSITE

The FPA announced a new Research and Practice Institute at the conference “to help members become better business owners” said Lauren Schadle, the FPA's executive director and CEO.

The Institute’s first study will be an industry-wide study on “practice-related needs, gaps and interests,” in collaboration with New York-based Advisor Impact.

One challenge the profession faces, Branham said at the press conference, is the ability to transition both clients and advisors “from generation to generation going forward. … Otherwise nothing else matters.”

Schadle also said the FPA would unveil a “soft launch” in November of its new website, which would be split into areas for consumers and for planners.

NEW BOARD MEMBERS

The association also elected five new members to its board of directors; each will serve a three-year term beginning in January. They include:

  • Shawn Brayman of PlanPlus in Ontario, Canada
  • Michelle Carney of Kassouf & Co. in Birmingham, Ala.
  • Frank Pare of PF Wealth Management Group in Oakland, Calif.
  • Dan Skiles of Shareholders Service Group in San Diego
  • Evelyn Zohlen of Inspired Financial in  Huntington Beach, Calif.

Also in January, Edward Gjertsen, vice president of Mack Investment Securities of Glenview Ill., becomes FPA president-elect.
The FPA also announced this year's award winners. The 2013 P. Kemp Fain Jr. award for outstanding contributions to the profession was presented on Sunday to Elissa Buie, CEO of Yeske Buie outside Washington, D.C. The Heart of Financial Planning Award, for  contributions to the planning community and the public, went to Indianapolis planner Elaine Bedel, planning pioneers Harold Evensky and Deena Katz, San Francisco-based Aspiriant principal Kacy Gott and Savvy Ladies, a New York City-based nonprofit headed by Stacy Francis and dedicated to financial empowerment for women. The move to honor Francis comes two months after Financial Planning named Francis a co-winner of the Pro Bono Awards.

The expanding global reach of financial planning was also in evidence at the conference, where non-U.S. planners represented 15% of the more than 1,500 attendees, hailing from 20 countries.

This year’s conference marked the debut of the “FPA Virtual Experience,” allowing attendees to view selected sessions on the Internet for the next three months, download resources and interact with other planners around the country. 

Next year’s conference will be held in Seattle on Sept. 20-22, 2014.

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