The Financial Planning Association (FPA) yesterday released a proposal that will radically alter membership criteria and could boost member numbers which slumped from a peak of about 14,000 in 2001 to its current level of just over 12,000.

The FPA proposal will see its membership opened up to financial planners who do not work for a principal member of the industry body. However, FPA members not also licenced by a principal member, will face a steeper membership fee, which has not yet been determined, according to the industry body’s chair, Corinna Dieters. While the move may enable all individual financial planners to join the FPA regardless of who they are licenced with, it also makes the CFP mark more accessible. Dieters said the proposed new rules could boost the association’s membership, but that wasn’t the prime driver of the decision. “;We recognise the importance of principal members in building the professionalism of those advisers they licence, but we also recognise that it is now time for individual planners to take some responsibility for their own professionalism,”; Dieters said. She said there are approximately 7,500 practitioner FPA members at present, out of an adviser population in Australia that has been estimated at above 20,000. “;As the peak professional association, we seek to represent as many financial planning practitioners as possible and to encourage Australians to seek out financial planners who are not only licenced but who are members of the FPA,”; Dieters said in a statement yesterday. She said the rule change could also enable about 200 general FPA members to upgrade to full practitioner membership. The FPA will begin consultation with its members regarding the new rules at the CFP Retreat at the end of May and continue the process through to December. If approved by FPA members, the proposals will come into force on July 1, 2007.

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