When the Financial Planning Association Annual Conference took place at the Seattle Convention Center in December, there was enough information coming at the average attendee that it’s no surprise some messages might have gotten lost in the shuffle. 

For me, a longtime member of the Philadelphia Tri-State FPA chapter and heading into my fourth year serving on the board of directors as marketing chair, I always enjoy this conference as an opportunity to connect with planners from around the country and keep up with important issues in the industry. In the weeks after the event, one important message seemed to quiet down, but it won’t stop being an issue for advisors who want to further cement the professionalization of the advice business.

During his opening remarks, FPA President Dennis J. Moore, MBA, CFP®, highlighted this key organizational initiative: an advocacy mission for the legal recognition of financial planners via title protection. 

The financial planning industry is still working to solidify its position as a recognized profession like the legal or medical fields — and not simply a job. As the FPA website states, “not everyone calling themselves a ‘financial planner’ provides, or even offers, financial planning services. That needs to change.”

The FPA board of directors believes legal recognition of the term “financial planner” through title protection is an acknowledgment that anyone proclaiming to be one meets threshold standards that protect consumers and advance the financial planning profession. 

This initiative also underscores the importance of your own external positioning. How are you as a financial planner presenting yourself and your firm to clients, prospects, centers of influence and potential partners about the way you offer advice? Are you simply a provider — or a professional partner? 

As the industry seeks to solidify the professional credentials of financial planners, here are a few ways to think about how to align positioning with the way your business actually serves clients:

1. Audit your website: What does the language on your website convey about the way you work with clients? Is it depicted as a commodity or a partnership and relationship-driven experience? A website is an extension of your business, so taking stock of how it communicates the way you work is an important first step.

2. Develop content: Whether via videos, blog posts, e-newsletters or other communication tools, focus on how you’re presenting information to your audience. Offering education, insights and updates to showcase your value as a true partner can separate you as a professional from others who are simply service providers.

3. Think about your media interactions: Do you connect with journalists regularly to provide thought leadership or industry perspectives? Consider your key messages and positioning before any interview. Are you simply responding to questions or providing intentional advice and perspective that align with the values and mission of your firm?

In addition to the steps outlined above, there are many other ways to consider how you could potentially support this advocacy mission. The FPA acknowledges that title protection is a major undertaking — which will likely take years of hard work and perseverance to achieve — and welcomes like-minded financial services professionals to become better educated about the initiative.

● If you’d like to learn more about how Gregory FCA can help with your positioning and marketing needs, please contact us.