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FAQ


Our most frequently asked questions, sorted by subject category:

General

Conferences FAQ

Consumer Services FAQ

Membership FAQ

Market To Members FAQ


General

General


General
If I have an event that Id like NAPFA members to know about, can I use your media sites to let them know?
NAPFA welcomes member and public comments, where applicable, on its website, Facebook pages, Linkedin and other social media sites where NAPFA maintains a presence.   Any comment or communication that contains information that NAPFA deems inappropriate or which markets an activity that competes with a NAPFA event is subject to removal from the site. We appreciate your understanding.
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Conferences FAQ

General


General
How many conferences does NAPFA have a year?
NAPFA has traditionally conducted four to five conferences a year which included one National conference, “regional” conferences and/or specialty conferences, including an Advanced Planner or Larger Firm conference. Beginning in 2013, NAPFA will be holding two “National” caliber conferences. The NAPFA Spring Conference will be held in May and will be located in the western hemisphere. The NAPFA Fall conference will be held in the September/October time frame and will be located in the eastern hemisphere. Sessions will be broad in scope in order to provide continuing education in all of the core areas of concentration, but will offer many sessions on advanced topics. The Practice Foundation program will be conducted at each of the two conferences. In addition, NAPFA is planning to conduct a virtual conference in conjunction with Forbes Media and is slated for late fall. Please visit the Events page of the NAPFA website for more information.
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Are non-members permitted to attend NAPFA conferences?
Absolutely (unless otherwise specified), but there is a $200 differential in cost. The incentive for non-members is that if they join within a few months after the conference the difference in the fee will be rebated to them.
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What are the highlights of the NAPFA conferences?
NAPFA sets the standard in offering the premier conferences for Fee-Only advisors by providing financial planning professional tools to build strong bridges within the industry. Keynote presentations by leading experts give insight into current economic and industry trends. Simultaneous breakout sessions, conducted by industry experts both within and outside the NAPFA membership, present the latest thinking on financial planning and investment strategy while providing insight into what is happening in the industry. Attendees have options at any given breakout time to decide which session best fits their current business model, area of interest or curiosity. There is also plenty of time available for networking with like minded professionals, and spending dedicated time in the Exhibit Hall where attendees can meet with expert providers who offer the latest investment products, software and other services to share with you.
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How many continuing education credits are typically offered?

Most conferences offer approximately 12-14 NAPFA and CFP CE’s.  Conference attendees also have access to the available audio recorded sessions following the conference, so additional NAPFA CE credit may also be available in this way.

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Does NAPFA help me network with people at the conferences?

Our popular Buddy Program assigns newer members or first time attendees to a veteran member volunteer who will answer your questions and point you in the right direction.   There are also first time attendee receptions scheduled at many conferences.

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How much time is spent in the Advisor Resource Center (ARC) at NAPFA meetings?
To make sure you have enough time to visit and chat with our many exhibitors we schedule many meals and breaks in the Exhibitor Hall.  We also offer a Cocktail Reception in the hall at most conferences.
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Where are NAPFA conferences held?
We alternate amongst different parts of the country to be fair to all attendees.   Even within regions different cities are chosen with easy access always a consideration.  For some of our more niche conferences like the Larger Firm Exchange, we focus on resort locations.
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How is Practice Foundation incorporated into your conferences?
Practice Foundation is generally a two-day event.   One day is spent in hourly sessions focused on practice management issues facing new Fee-Only planning firms.  The other day is devoted to analyzing a Case Study. You have the option of going to any of the hourly sessions at Practice Foundation or the regular offerings.   If you decide you want to go to the Case Study we ask that you remain there all day for the sake of consistency.
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What is the dress code?
Business casual - unless otherwise stated.
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How do I obtain the written material I need for the conference?
All conference handouts are available on the NAPFA website in advance of the conference in your "My Account" area.
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Can I go to a conference outside of my region?
Absolutely, and we hope that you do.   This is a great way to meet new people and to enjoy another part of the country.
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Consumer Services FAQ

General


General
What is NAPFA?
NAPFA, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, is an organization through which Fee-Only financial planners can further enhance their professional skills, market their services and become part of a collective, influential voice on matters that affect them and their clients. Founded in 1983, NAPFA currently has more than 2,400 members nationwide
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What Is the Significance of the Term NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor?
A NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor is a financial planner who has earned the Certified Financial Planner designation, is a NAPFA recognized practitioner, Fee-Only, and who meets NAPFA’s rigorous standards.  We believe that, through our NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor program, we have created the financial planning industry’s clearest message about the level of responsibility and care that must be exercised on behalf of each client.
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What Is A Fee-Only Planner?
NAPFA defines a Fee-Only planner as one who, in all circumstances, is compensated solely by the client, with neither the advisor nor any related party receiving compensation that is contingent on the purchase or sale of a financial product. A NAPFA member or affiliate may not receive commissions, rebates, finder’s fees, bonuses or any form of compensation from others as a result of a client’s implementation of the individual’s planning recommendations.
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Why is Fee-Only Compensation of Critical Importance?
A financial planner who has a financial stake in the course of action that he/she recommends to a client faces an inherent conflict of interest and cannot be considered objective and unbiased. This is true even if the planner truly believes that he/she has only the best interests of the client at heart. Unfortunately, the vast majority of financial advisors in the United States are sellers of financial products. Some or all of their income may be dependent upon their ability to steer their clients to a limited number of the thousands of financial products available today. These advisors include stockbrokers, analysts, insurance agents, accountants and attorneys, as well as financial planners. Many of their clients are not aware of their advisors’ dependence on selling products, or do not recognize its difference.
NAPFA believes that many of the problems that beset Americans today in their financial affairs – including the mismanagement of debt, failure to protect retirement assets and poor allocation of savings and investments – relate directly to the conflicts of interest that pervade the marketplace.
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What does NAPFA stand for besides Fee-Only compensation?
Of equal importance to Fee-Only compensation is an advisor’s ability to prove competence in financial matters as well as a commitment to a comprehensive approach to financial planning.

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What is the Fiduciary Oath?
The advisor shall exercise his/her best efforts to act in good faith and in the best interests of the client. The advisor shall provide written disclosure to the client prior to the engagement of the advisor, and thereafter throughout the term of the engagement, of any conflicts of interest, which will or reasonably may compromise the impartiality or independence of the advisor. The advisor, or any part in which the advisor has a financial interest, does not receive any compensation or other remuneration that is contingent on any client’s purchase or sale of a financial product. The advisor does not receive a fee or other compensation from another party based on the referral of a client or the client’s business.
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What is NAPFA's mission?
To promote the public interest by advancing the profession of financial planning based upon our core values, thereby improving the quality of clients’ lives.
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Why is competence important in financial planning?
Unlike the professions of medicine, law, and accounting, the field of financial planning does not yet have a broadly accepted definition of superior quality. It has numerous certification programs that show that a person has been trained in certain relevant subject areas. The public deserves to have this crucial issue settled so that individuals can turn to financial advisors who have the equivalent of an MD, JD, or CPA in education, training, ethical requirements, and practice methods.
NAPFA is doing its part to ensure those professionals calling themselves NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisors are meeting high competence levels.  In fact, NAPFA’s requirements exceed those of any other financial industry association. The NAPFA program not only requires that each planner has earned a Certified Financial Planner designation, and a bachelor's degree, but much more. A NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor must submit a financial plan for peer review and complete continuing education in six subject areas every two years. Additionally, his/her government-mandated disclosure document (Form ADV) must be reviewed annually. Also, a NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor must sign and abide by the NAPFA Fiduciary Oath, a commitment to working solely in the client’s interest at all times.
NAPFA developed the Fiduciary Oath as a service to consumers. It is available to the public for use with any financial planner whether or not the planner is a NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor.
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What is a holistic approach to financial planning?
NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisors provide holistic financial planning services to those they serve. Most of the nation’s financial advisors pay lip service to holistic planning but few actually provide it. In recent years, the practice and public perception of financial planning tended to be overly focused on investments in general, and stocks in particular – a trend encouraged and reinforced by the fact that most providers of financial advice benefit from the sale of financial products.
As a result, many members of the public have received a painful reminder frequently forgotten: the value of investments can fall as well as rise. If they were relying on a financial advisor who was merely providing investment advice, they are probably surprised by and poorly prepared for the current economic downturn.
Why? If a financial advisor doesn’t understand the client’s full picture, the quality of advice in any one area, including investment advice, can suffer significantly. Competent and informed investment decisions must take into account all the other factors that comprise an investor’s financial profile, including tax, estate planning, insurance, risk tolerance, specific family circumstances and ultimate financial goals. A financial plan built holistically includes much more than investment advice. It is an all-purpose tool that enables planner and client, working together, to make better financial decisions because each individual decision is made within the context of the full picture.
NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisors practice truly holistic financial planning to ensure their clients' entire financial picture is taken into account.
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What is NAPFA's ultimate goal?
For too long, many Americans have relied on financial advisors who had improper motivations or a limited view of their responsibilities to their clients. NAPFA has pioneered a set of standards of advisor education, training, and methods of practice that truly serves the public interest, emphasizing objectivity, holistic planning, and broad training and experience. Our goal is to set the bar high and make these standards commonplace in the practice of financial planning.
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Membership FAQ

GeneralComprehensive Plan


General
How long does the approval process take?
It takes approximately four weeks from the date NAPFA receives your application, ADV and comprehensive plan. Your ADV will be sent to an independent reviewer and your plan will be sent to a peer reviewer. Either individual may contact you directly via email if there are any questions. You will be given an opportunity to respond to questions and a chance to submit additional information. A peer reviewer may let you know that your plan has been approved, however it also takes the approval of your ADV and a review of your application to become a part of NAPFA. Once all elements are in place a congratulatory email will be sent to you from NAPFA. A toolkit with resources to enhance your membership experience will be mailed shortly after you are accepted into the organization.
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Can I use a plan created for a client that covers most, but not all of the details required?
Only if you enhance the client’s fact pattern to include the missing details, then make recommendations based on your analysis of the information. In other words you’ll need to expand the plan to include analysis and recommendations in all of the necessary areas.
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Comprehensive Plan
Who needs to submit a sample comprehensive financial plan for NAPFA's peer review?
Any individual applying for NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor Member status is required to submit a sample comprehensive financial plan.

 

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Is it okay to use financial planning software?
Yes, it’s okay to use financial planning software, but the reviewers want to see your own work contribution and input represented clearly. If the planning program you use doesn’t generate one or more of the documents we require (i.e., a net worth statement) you will need to supplement your plan with documents created in Microsoft Word, Excel, or a similar program. Although it’s okay to let the reviewer know that your plans typically include Morningstar-type reports, please don’t include all of the reports!
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Does the order of the information impact the review process?
Yes and no. The reviewers really appreciate plans formatted to follow the plan checklist because it makes it significantly faster to find the appropriate information. If your plan is formatted differently you can help the reviewers, and move your approval process forward faster, by including a copy of the plan checklist filled in with the page numbers from your plan that correspond to the various requirements.
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Is there anything else I should know to increase the chances of my sample plan being approved quickly?
Help the reviewer get to know your client’s current financial situation and his or her financial concerns and goals. Make the reviewer feel like a fly on the wall as you present this plan to your client. You may include copies of your client questionnaire or any forms you use to accomplish comprehensive data gathering.
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Will the reviewers pass judgment on my individual recommendations and assumptions?
The NAPFA reviewers don’t comment on the individual investment recommendations you make. If your assumptions fall outside of acceptable standards you will be notified and given an opportunity to justify or change your assumptions.
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Does the plan have to involve a real world client?
No, you can use an actual plan created for a client, a plan based on fictional information, or a plan based on a fact pattern supplied by NAPFA. If you use a client plan, please change the names and social security numbers to comply with current privacy laws. 
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How detailed should my plan be?
Fairly detailed. We expect you to use a comprehensive approach to both discovery and recommendations in the sample plan you submit. Even if there are areas you don’t typically address, we need to see the subjects covered in your sample. The following information should be addressed: Plan Checklist
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Market To Members FAQ

General


General
What are the different ways to market to NAPFA members?

There are several ways to be in touch with our membership.   These include:

  • Exhibiting at conferences
  • Advertising in either our NAPFA Advisor or on our website
  • Buying the mailing list
  • Sponsoring a session at a conference
  • Becoming the annual national sponsor
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Why would my firm be interested in marketing to NAPFA members?
With members in 49 states and Canada, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) is the largest organization of Fee-Only comprehensive financial advisors. NAPFA members meet the industry’s highest standards of education, experience, and fiduciary responsibility. As Fee-Only planners, NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisors occupy a rapidly growing segment in the financial planning industry.

NAPFA believes that consumers are best served by a comprehensive approach to financial planning, delivered by competent individuals using a Fee-Only compensation model.  This position is gaining popularity among consumers, the media, and regulators alike. Not only do NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisors adhere to the strictest compensation guidelines, they also meet the industry’s highest standards for experience (three years minimum) and have earned an advanced broad-based education. NAPFA's referral system generates approximately 60,000 leads a year for NAPFA members and collectively the members' manage more than 40 billion dollars.
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How would you describe the typical NAPFA member?
There is no typical NAPFA member.  As of January 1, 2009, roughly half run a solo practice, with a portion working on an hourly rate and others involved in managing investment assets.  Experienced solo firms average $50 million of assets under management.  Approximately one-quarter are involved in an ensemble practice with 4-6 professionals, managing or influencing on average $105 million.  Larger firms make up the balance, managing or influencing approximately $456 million and employ between 10-20 individuals.
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Do Decision Makers come to the conferences?
You can be sure that the decision makers will be at the conference. We offer special rates for staff members, but primarily it is the owners who attend.
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What is the best way to market to NAPFA members?
Exhibiting at conferences is THE BEST WAY TO MAKE AN IMPRESSION. You must make an investment in time and dollars in order to get to know the members personally.  Unlike a traditional broker/dealer, NAPFA members are not impacted by selling agreements and sales pressure from management.  They make decisions based on what is best for the client and, of course, a portion of that decision is dependent on the comfort level they have with your firm and its employees. Attendance at one conference per year is not enough.   It is the personal relationship that leads to the business.  It may be advantageous to send the same representatives to our conferences, as this makes it easier for members to remember you and build a relationship.   Realize too that when a good product/service comes along NAPFA members network with each other and word spreads quickly.
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How should I approach members at conferences?
We have found over the years that it is best to start a casual conversation - one that tends toward the "friendly" side rather than to bombard people with facts about your investments.   It is the relationship between you and the member that will be important in the long run.
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How can I get a speaking slot at one of your conferences?
You may be approached by NAPFA's Education Manager Robin Gemeinhardt (gemeinhardtr@napfa.org) to speak or to be on a panel. Typically most conferences have "slots" that are sold for speaking.   Your speech would have to be approved by the conference committee and would have to be approved for continuing education credit.
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What kind of booth works best at your conferences?
Companies have used very elaborate booths and some very simple with just a vase of flowers and a few items.    There is no one way to market.  People tend to like the clever give-aways - that seems be a draw.
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How can I find out which of your members have the larger practices?
We have a "Large Firm Initiative" group and you may call the office and find out the members of that sub-section of NAPFA.
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How are Resource Partners recognized at conferences?
There is plenty of signage acknowledging the Resource Partners along with Special Badges that make them stand out from the crowd. Usually when it comes to introductions too, the Resource Partners get to take advantage of this before the others.
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How should exhibitors dress at the conference?

Business casual is fine, no need to wear a suit all the time.

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How much time is allotted for exhibitors at conferences?
Two full days usually. We serve breakfast, lunch and breaks in the hall.   In addition, we usually have an opening night reception in the exhibit hall.  Exhibitors are invited to attend all conference functions, all educational sessions and all social events.
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Does NAPFA supply email addresses?
No, members prefer that we do not supply these.
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Concerning conferences, will you get a list of people attending?
Yes, you will receive a hardcopy of the names and addresses of attendees when you arrive at the conference.   We also send out the names and address of the attendees in advance of the conference so you can do a mailing beforehand.
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Do you sell your mailing list?
Yes, we provide the names and mailing addresses of our members. The cost for the list is $600 and it is for a one time mailing. The NAPFA staff must preview a sample of your mailing. Resource Partners are entitled to receive this list once per year.
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Events