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Q&A with CFP Board Chair Ray Ferrara

Q&A with CFP Board Chair Ray Ferrara

'We’re looking to be more than just a certification board,' Ferrara says.

The new chair of the Board of Directors for Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, sat down to talk about his new role and what's up next for the CFP Board. Ray Ferrara, CEO of Clearwater, Fla.-based ProVise Management Group, took over the role on Jan. 1, 2014 from the previous chair, Nancy Kistner. What’s up next for CFP board?

Ray Ferrara: I’m excited about what is happening. A year and a half ago, the board came up with 5 year strategic plan, AGRA. [The acronym stands for CFP Board’s areas of focus: Awareness of the CFP mark; Growth of membership; Regulation of financial planners, and being the Authority in financial planning] We’ve already made progress on the first “A” for awareness, phase two of that is out this week, with our public awareness campaign and webinar. We’ve also had huge growth. We have over 69,000 CFP professionals, a 25 percent growth rate over the last 5 years. And we’ve challenged the team with reaching a minimum of 81,000 in next 4 years. We also continue with partners, with the coalition, to push for regulation. We’re working to keep fiduciary word in front of regulators. We’re looking to be more than just a certification board. 


WM: How long have you been CFP? How has having the designation helped you?

Ferrara: I’ve been in the business since 1971. I’ve said before that was when I had hair in those days and it wasn’t grey. I’ve been a CFP for 24 years and I think it’s helped from standpoint, of continuing education. It forces me to remain current with what’s happening and apply new thoughts and ideas to solutions that I deliver to client. It’s also helped on several occasions, when clients have asked if I was a CFP. Also, we have 11 professional on our staff [at ProVise Management Group], 10 of whom are CFP-registered.


WM: What do you hope to accomplish over the next year? Any special project you’d like to see initiated?

Ferrara: I think that a personal passion that exists for me is around financial literacy. It’s very concerning the lack of literacy that people have. It’s not taught in our schools and where it is taught, it’s not taught as well as it could be. We need to raise public awareness.


WM: You’ve served on a number of boards before, including the Financial Planning Association and the National Advisor's Trust Company. What are some of the lessons you’ve learned that you hope to bring to CFP?

Ferrara: I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to listen to the wisdom of the board and not hear echoes of your own voice in your head. The collective wisdom is the voice that needs to be heard. On boards it’s hard sometimes to listen, but that’s what I try to do. But I’ve found with the boards, especially with non-profits, the right people seem to be in the room at the right time.


WM: What will your duties be over the next year? Will we being seeing more of you?

Ferrara: I intend to be visible. In terms of being a speaker at conferences, that depends on the conference organizers. But in Florida, we’re visiting with CFP professionals shortly and we’ve got another two CFP connections scheduled later this year.  The fact hat we’re doing these interviews shows a willingness to speak on behalf of the board. 

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