Leading up to the arrival of new CEO Patrick Mahoney in 2020, the Financial Planning Association (FPA) had experienced a rocky few years. From the continued decline in membership (including a 25% cut between 2018 and 2020) to the angry backlash among members regarding the OneFPA initiative (not to mention challenges brought on by the COVID pandemic), the FPA was in need of a fresh start. With this background in mind, Mahoney has taken several steps since his arrival to revive the FPA’s relationship with its chapters and members and could help the organization grow for the first time in years.
Mahoney’s efforts started with trade and national press outreach efforts, offering interviews to tell the FPA’s story and to communicate the value of the organization – and, more generally, financial planning – to the broader public, emphasizing the efforts made by FPA chapters to drive professionalism among their ranks. Mahoney then focused on rebuilding trust between local FPA chapters and the national FPA headquarters by meeting with FPA chapter boards across the country and reinforcing that the main goal of the FPA home office is to support its members and the profession (in stark contrast to the FPA’s previous message that its members existed to support the FPA). This shift in attitude prompted changes to the FPA staffing structure intended to better serve its chapters and members, and gave rise to a new Chief Membership Experience Officer position, as well as a new membership experience department and chapter experience team whose roles are to help chapters better serve FPA members on their level.
Perhaps most importantly, the new FPA Advisory Council (that originally arose from the initial OneFPA initiative) has brought the leaders of 80 FPA chapters together with Mahoney and key board members, who have been actively brainstorming ways to reverse the organization’s membership decline and put the FPA on what would be its first growth path since its inception. As a result of the Advisory Council’s recommendation to identify the organization’s core members, the FPA has determined that the FPA’s marketing and membership benefits will be oriented to making the lives of CFP practitioners – the organization’s formally defined ‘core member’ – easier and more convenient.
Ultimately, the key point is that while the FPA’s turnaround is going to take time, the first steps have been taken. By focusing on CFP professionals as its core members and restructuring the organization to focus on how it can serve its chapters and members (rather than on the support of members required to sustain the organization), the FPA and its leadership have built a foundation for the organization to grow and thrive in the years ahead!