New beginnings for financial planners’ association

By Donna Glasgow | August 27 2007 08:22PM

In recent months, the Canadian Institute of Financial Planners (CIFPs) has undertaken major initiatives that together add up to a new beginning for the association, Keith Costello, the organization’s president told members at the annual general meeting held in Calgary last June during the association’s national conference.

The most important accomplishment this year for CIFPs was the acquisition of an educational institute from The Investment Funds Institute of Canada for $1.1 million. The institute is called the Canadian Institute of Financial Planning (CIFP) – almost the same name as the planners’ association. This institute offers educational programs accredited by the Financial Planners Standards Council (FPSC) for those attempting the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) examination.

Delivering the CIFP program will enable the association to extend its reach "by offering the industry a complete solution from a program of study to achieve the CFP, through to services and advocacy for CFP financial planners," Mr. Costello told members at the AGM.

New name

In another big move, the CIFPs and the CIFP will be brought together under a new name: the Financial Planning Association of Canada (FPA Canada) by this fall, Mr. Costello added. "This will add clarity to our identity and purpose…" It is also in line with international standards, since most financial planning organizations worldwide are known in this manner, Mr. Costello added.

The association is also continuing to grow its membership, now close to 2,700. All members must hold the CFP designation to join the organization.

In 2006, CIFPs made progress in developing chapters in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Kitchener/Waterloo and Mississauga and expects to add new chapters in 2007, Mr. Costello added.

The new initiatives, combined with the expansion has prepared the association for a new level of industry leadership, he believes.

"We are now ready to take our place as the financial planning membership home for financial planning in Canada. This is a new beginning…"

Following the AGM, in an interview with The Insurance Journal, Mr. Costello said that with these changes, the groundwork is now laid for the association to pursue its goal of helping to develop a true financial planning industry in Canada.

To achieve this, the association believes financial planning must gain recognition as a profession.

To be accepted by the industry, governments and the public as professionals, it is paramount that those who hold themselves out to be financial planners must be backed by convincing, common credentials, Mr. Costello says. The best designation available to achieve this goal is the CFP, he adds. He hopes that over the long-term, everyone who holds themselves out as a financial planner, will adopt the designation, including those who already hold a Registered Financial Planning (R.F.P.) or Personal Financial Planner (PFP) designation.

Mr. Costello says his association is reaching out to other industry players to encourage them to adopt the CFP. "The more people who rely on one standard, the better chance of being recognized as a profession."

The present, multi-designation situation is confusing to the public, he says. If the CFP becomes the common standard, the public’s trust in the professionalism of financial planners will increase and the value of their services will be better recognized, Mr. Costello believes. "The key is, we want to see financial planning grow. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that people are getting the financial help they need."

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