Maybe it is just me, but for the last couple of years, it has felt like the financial planning profession has been in a bit of a lull. I feel better about things today, and I will explain why shortly, but recent times haven’t been so hot, at least from my view.

I think one reason I’ve been in a bit of a funk is the influence of the four organizations with which I interact most often: FPA, NAPFA, SFSP and CFP Board. 

My first exposure to a financial planning related association was in the mid-1990s at a local chapter meeting of the Institute of Certified Financial Planners, one of the forerunners of the Financial Planning Association. I learned quickly that there is always someone who is not happy with the association about something.

Like today, there were, shall we say, diverse opinions among CFP licensees with respect to CFP Board activities. A few years later, when I joined NAPFA and the SFSP, it was also easy to find people unhappy with those organizations, CFP Board or some other goings on within the profession.

At that first chapter meeting, I asked a particularly grumpy man at my table “If the ICFP is that much of a mess, why are you a member?”

He replied, “Financial planning will never get where it needs to be if we don’t get together and push for it. I put up with the flaws, so I can get planning to where it belongs.”  

That answer has stuck with me. When it seems we are taking a step back or making no progress, the flaws of these groups annoy me more, but I stay. The fees are a small price to pay for the advocacy work alone. The other benefits are a fantastic bonus.

In recent years, the volunteer board members have been solid citizens, and I have had nothing but good experiences with staff, but it has felt like the profession has stalled a bit. 

Of all the groups, CFP Board has moved forward the most recently. The ad campaign has been successful at boosting awareness of the marks, for instance. 

Unfortunately, CFP Board has also suffered the most significant setbacks such as all the mess related to fee-only and the Camarda matter—nothing like a lawsuit to affect your mojo.