The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors recently eliminated their provisional membership category—a move that impacted about 1 percent of the organization’s members still in this middle ground membership level.
In communication sent out to affected members July 1, NAPFA informed 17 members they would not be grandfathered under the move and instead would be bumped down to the financial services affiliate level. Thirteen other members were upgraded to the NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor status, says CEO Geoffrey Brown. NAPFA is waiting to hear back from several additional members before making further decisions in those cases, he added.
The move is based on a decision NAPFA board members made about a month ago, Brown says. “It’s only a big change on paper,” he added, noting the adjustment was made to clarify the organization’s membership categories and ensure that every member was receiving benefits in with their experience level.
The biggest change for the 17 impacted advisors is financial services affiliates do not appear in NAPFA’s “Find An Advisor” search system—a benefit that now is only available for those with the full, registered financial advisor status. But the affected advisors will still be able to use the fee-only logo, access the website and attend events at membership rates.
"We view this change as a consolidation and not a downgrading," Brown says. "They’re still working towards becoming NAPFA registered advisors and enjoy the access to the benefits to help facilitate that process."
Previously, provisional membership acted as a stepping-stone level for advisors looking to achieve full NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor status—under which an advisor must be providing comprehensive financial planning service for at least 36 months. Provisional members did not have to meet an experience requirement, but needed to pass the CPF exam.
Now, applicants looking to join the organization without the requisite experience can only register as a financial services affiliate until they meet the requirements to gain the registered FA status—there is no intermediary step.
Twitter buzzed about the decision this week, with several advisors grumbling about the lack of notice and downgraded benefits. “Find an advisor listing is 80% of the value of NAPFA membership IMHO,” CFP-certified advisor and Upperline Financial Planning founder Jude Boudreaux tweeted Tuesday.