Have you considered joining NAPFA, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors? Many of the most successful advisors I work with belong to NAPFA. They receive qualified leads through their membership and enjoy the networking and conferences that the association provides. In fact, one advisor receives upwards of 30 referrals per month from NAPFA, his main source of new clients! If you haven’t thought about joining NAPFA, now may be a good time to consider the benefits.
What is NAPFA?
NAPFA is a professional association of fee-only financial advisors. Investors can search NAPFA.com to find a registered fee-only advisor in their area. It was founded in 1983 by a group of advisors who wanted to provide financial advice without commissions. The association requires that all members sign and renew a Fiduciary Oath annually and subscribe to their Code of Ethics. They provide education, networking, and marketing support to their 3,000 members.
One important benefit NAPFA offers members is the referral of leads who are seeking a fee-only advisor. Member Ben Gurwitz explains, “In my experience, prospects who are seeking a fee-only planner gravitate to NAPFA and then to our website through the affiliated fee-only network. After realizing that we were getting dozens of referrals each month to our website from NAPFA’s Fee-Only Network, we completely redesigned our site to speak to those visitors. In our city, there is a small list of fee-only advisors and we really benefit from the referrals.”
Who Can Join?
Of course, NAPFA isn’t for everyone, since you have to be a fee-only advisor and hold your CFP® designation. But if you fit those requirements, it may make sense for you to apply for membership. Here are some of the requirements for eligibility:
- Must be a CFP®
- Provide fee-only financial planning
- Complete 60 hours of continuing education every two years
- Provide comprehensive financial planning services
The Benefits of NAPFA
Many NAPFA registered advisors rely on the association for a steady stream of new clients. One advisor member explained, “The ‘find an advisor’ feature is the single largest source of new clients for me. Most of my clients found me by going to the NAPFA website after hearing about it on the Clark Howard show or from magazines and consumer-oriented news media. Almost everyone I meet with mentions something related to NAPFA.”
Some advisors see NAPFA as a way to stand out from the crowd, like Debbie Gallant of Gallant Financial Planning. “I am a huge fan of NAPFA and I feel that I wave the flag for the organization’s goals and requirements of being fee only and a fiduciary who also offers comprehensive planning services to clients.”
Gallant enjoys both the new business she receives from NAPFA, as well as the other benefits, sharing, “The most important benefit of NAPFA is a set of ethics and professional parameters under which I offer my services to clients. Second is a fantastic community of like-minded professionals who truly are looking out for their clients. And the community that I have found through NAPFA is a warm and sharing group of colleagues share their insights and experience in running their own practices with each other.”
Of course, not everyone who seeks an advisor from the NAPFA website is a qualified lead. Some prospects lack the financial resources to pay the advisor’s fee. For this reason, it’s important for members to have an account minimum or a way of screening out unqualified prospects. Some members offer advice at no charge as part of their firm’s community service.
What is the Cost?
To join NAPFA, advisors must pay a one-time $150 fee for new members as well as the annual dues of $665 per year. There are a variety of membership levels for students, registered advisors, and retired members outlined here. Several advisors I spoke with felt that the benefits far outweigh the cost of membership. Debbie Gallant explains, “The referrals that I receive from the website more than adequately pay for the membership I pay each year. I can’t think of many costs that I would not cut first before I would give up my membership.”
How to Get Started
To apply to become a NAPFA member, create an account and begin the application process here. If you have any questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Please keep in touch and let me know about your NAPFA experience by emailing me anytime at email@example.com. Join my newsletter to get access to exclusive marketing tips for financial advisors by clicking here! And find out about our Monthly Marketing Package here.
Claire Akin runs Indigo Marketing Agency a full-service marketing firm serving top independent financial advisors. Claire is a former Investment Advisor Representative who holds her MBA in Marketing from the Rady School of Management at UC San Diego as well as a BA in Economics from UC Davis. It’s her goal to help advisors leverage content marketing to grow their businesses by embracing a true specialty.