The Financial Planning Association has formed a strategic partnership with T. Rowe Price, which will provide active investment management and retirement thought leadership content. The partnership will also get Baltimore-based T. Rowe, somewhat new to the RIA distribution game, in front of FPA’s 24,000 members.
“FPA’s always been an extremely valuable property,” said Tim Welsh, president and founder of Nexus Strategy. “It’s always sort of been underutilized by a number of firms, but I think this new program they’ve built—the partnership program—will give foundational firms like T. Rowe the opportunity to make a long-term commitment to the association. And of course, it’s going to pay off for them in branding and opportunities for distribution through the FPA channel, without a doubt.”
Michael Park, head of U.S. intermediaries, regional banks and RIAs at T. Rowe, said the firm’s salesforce has been building relationships with RIAs for four years; it’s a significant area of growth and investment at the firm.
“We are still relatively new in terms of our proactive efforts with the financial advisor community,” Park said. “I think [the partnership] also just helps bring T. Rowe Price’s message and highlights our investment capabilities to the broader financial planning audience.”
In the past, the FPA has had what it called “National Sponsors,” including MetLife and Lincoln Financial, which involved high-profile, year-round brand exposure through several online, print and in-person branding events and channels. Those sponsorships were transactional and tactically focused, said Lauren Schadle, executive director and CEO of FPA.
But the new partnership program is part of the association’s effort to more thoughtfully engage outside partners for the benefit of its members. In December, FPA partnered with Betterment for Advisors, bringing the white-labeled version of the robo advisor to FPA members. The companies didn’t mention any specific initiatives, but Betterment noted how FPA’s collective expertise and knowledge will help the digital advice provider improve its offering.
“FPA recognizes that major changes are taking place within the financial services sector and developed the Strategic Partner program in the fall of 2016 as a response to those changes and the need to be more thoughtful in how we work with and engage our corporate partners,” Schadle said. “The pending shift to a fiduciary standard, rapidly advancing technology innovations and a more holistic focus on client needs is having a significant impact on FPA members and the next generation of financial planners.”
Through the partnership, T. Rowe Price will be a key sponsor of FPA conferences and events in 2017. The deal is for one year, at which time the two groups will review the partnership.
“I think the fact that they continue to attract big brand names says quite a bit for FPA,” Welsh said. “They’ll have a powerful sponsor to fund various initiatives for the association, and at the same time, it’s a quality name.”
T. Rowe’s Park said the firm has also identified opportunities to participate in local and regional FPA events in person.