CFP Board radio spots to hit NPR airwaves this fall

Ads seek to increase brand awareness, encourage turning to planners

Aug 10, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

By Mark Schoeff Jr.

Public-radio listeners will be encouraged to turn to a certified financial planner for investment guidance when advertisements touting CFPs hit NPR this fall.

The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. said Friday at the group's conference in Washington that the radio spots, which will run Monday through Friday from Oct. 1 through Nov. 16, are the next step in a $40 million, four-year effort to raise awareness about the CFP credential.

CFP Board officials said that the campaign, which was launched in April 2011 and included national cable television ads for the first 13 weeks of this year (see video below), is accomplishing its goal of increasing the designation's brand identification.

A study released by the CFP Board Friday shows that between April 2011 and this April, the number of people in a target audience who mentioned “CFP” as a financial credential that they recognize rose by 7 points.

The number of people who said that working with a CFP was “appropriate and beneficial for someone like me” rose 4 points in the total sample and by 7 points among those with $500,000 or more in investible assets. The survey, conducted April 2-15, consisted of 604 online interviews with people who have more than $100,000 in investible assets and an annual household income of $125,000 or more.

“We're very pleased with the initial results,” CFP Board chief executive Kevin Keller said in an interview. “The reaction of CFP professionals as well has been very favorable.”

The CFP Board grants the CFP credential and upholds the educational and ethical standards attached to it. There are about 67,000 CFP mark holders in the United States.

The annual CFP fee was increased by $145 last year in order to fund the awareness campaign.

The first year of the initiative was financed by CFP Board reserve funds. This year and the next two will be directly supported by the fee increase, the bulk of which is dedicated to buying media exposure.

In addition to the NPR ads this fall, the CFP Board will launch an online video that will be distributed to sites that match the consumer demographic that the group is trying to reach. Print ads in publications such as Kiplinger's, Money magazine and The Wall Street Journal are running throughout the year.

The awareness campaign aims to help the CFP mark stand out among scores of investment adviser credentials. The animated TV, print and online spots are designed to be edgier than the typical ad for a financial advice.

“The ads are unique. It's not two old people walking on the beach at sunset, which you see in a lot of financial services ads,” Mr. Keller said.

“Our objective was to cut through the clutter,” he said. “We think this campaign is having great success doing that.”

The online survey demonstrates that the CFP campaign is gaining traction, according to Tom Crowder, the CFP Board's managing director for marketing and business development.

“These really are sizeable changes, based on my experience,” he told the conference attendees, referring to the increase in CFP brand awareness.

The CFP Board will conduct a midcourse review next year about its ad campaign. The effort could extend beyond the expected timeframe.

The campaign “will last as long as it works,” Alan Goldfarb, the CFP Board chairman for 2012, told the conference audience.

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