After a contentious decade, the Financial Planning Association says the worst is behind it. But while the rhetoric is welcome, it's hard to gauge concrete progress.
The FPA is boosting morale by touting recent efforts to support the planning profession among women, younger professionals, and lawmakers alike.
On the whole, it's great stuff. It's good to see the FPA lobbying in Washington again and the continued emphasis on putting clients first is definitely welcome.
But when I saw that CEO Marv Tuttle says the "downward spiral in membership numbers is over," I had to wonder what that means. Has the pace of decline -- from a peak of over 28,000 members five years ago to a reported 23,687 more recently -- slowed or stopped?
Or is the FPA actively signing new members again?
Turns out the organization's press kit still claims 28,500 members -- not just once, but twice in the same document.
But when I did an informal survey of the members across the country who've agreed to be represented in the FPA's online database, I had a hard time accounting for more than 12,000 of them.
There are definitely a lot more than 12,000 FPA members out there. There are probably about 15% to 20% fewer than 28,500.
Somewhere in between, we can gauge the organization's recovery.
(In the meantime, why aren't more planners signing up to be on the site? It's a free source of referrals and pulls in thousands of viewers a month -- and a lot of them are prospects hungry to find a planner.)