The International Association for Financial Planning (IAFP), in a departure from past policy, is now calling for its members to become Certified Financial Planners.
"It's in the best interest of both the public and the profession that consumers be easily able to identify those who are qualified to be financial planners," says Janet McCallen, executive director of the IAFP.
The IAFP, based in Atlanta, and the Institute of Certified Financial Planners (ICFP), based in Denver, have long competed for members. The endorsement of the CFP designation is a marked change for the traditionally "designation neutral" organization. "We felt the time was right to unite the profession behind one widely recognized designation and reduce consumer confusion," says McCallen.
However, the IAFP is quick to note that its recommendation does not mean its members have to obtain the CFP designation. Rather, "The IAFP continues to be an open forum organization that welcomes everyone who uses or supports the financial planning process," says McCallen.
The IAFP has some 17,000 members. The ICFP has 12,000 members. There are 31,000 CFPs in the country. The ICFP is the membership association for CFPs. The IAFP has a wider constituency, including insurance agents, accountants, general practitioners and vendors. The groups' memberships overlap.
The ICFP is loosely affiliated with two other organizations in the educating of CFPs: The National Endowment of Financial Education and the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, which oversees the CFP designation process. Both of those organizations are also based in Denver.