CFP Board launches awareness campaign with print ad

Effort targets ages 35-64 with $100K to $1M in investible assets

Apr 4, 2011 @ 3:55 pm

By Mark Schoeff Jr.

Investors will get a sneak preview of a multimillion-dollar campaign to encourage them to use credentialed financial planners to manage their money when it begins this week with a print advertisement in three business magazines.

The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. is running a print advertisement in the May editions of Smart Money, Kiplinger's and Money. Smart Money and Kiplinger's will start hitting subscriber mailboxes as early as this week; Smart Money will arrive on April 18.

The ad depicts a disembodied marionette being manipulated by a large hand that is controlling strings attached to a dollar sign. The primary copy reads: “You can let your finances pull you in every direction or you can decide to do the pulling for a change.”

At the bottom of the page, the ad reads: “Working with a certified financial planner professional is your first step. From budgets, estate planning and investments to taxes, insurance and real estate, a CFP professional is uniquely qualified to help pull all your finances together. And being board-certified, they're ethically required to look out for your interests above their own.”

Another line invites the reader to call a toll-free number or visit the website letsmakeaplan.org to locate a certified planner.

The print ad is the initial salvo in a campaign designed to increase awareness of the CFP designation. The CFP Board, whose mission is to professionalize the planning sector, awards the CFP certificate to individuals who pass an initial exam and follow-up requirements. About 62,000 people have earned the CFP mark.

The board said it is responding to the mark holders by launching the awareness campaign, which will cost $9 million annually for the next four years. It will be financed with a $12 monthly increase in CFP fees. As of July 1, CFPs will pay a fee of $325 annually instead of $360 every two years.

The campaign will officially launch with national cable television networks and online media April 18.

Tom Crowder, the CFP Board's managing director of marketing and business development, said that the effort is crafted to reach people between 35 and 64 who have $100,000 to $1 million in investible assets. It also seeks to strike a chord within that demographic among those who believe that their financial future is their own responsibility and who value the comprehensive and ethical program a certified planner could offer.

“There's a mindset we're going after,” Mr. Crowder said. “It's about what the consumer wants to hear, relative to the benefits we have to offer, versus what we want to say about ourselves.”

The campaign message was honed through an online survey of more than 500 people. The CFP Board will be tracking the results and making adjustments, if needed.

“Our strategy is to develop an attention-getting graphic approach that will set us apart,” Mr. Crowder said. “We want to stand out from the clutter.”

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