CFP Board to launch new round of ads to build public awareness of designation

Campaign budget of $11.7 million based on $145 assessment per CFP certificant

Aug 28, 2018 @ 2:13 pm

By Mark Schoeff Jr.

The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. will launch a new round of national advertising next week to raise public awareness of the credential.

The $11.7 million campaign is designed to create demand for investment advice from a CFP by stressing that mark holders offer personalized, holistic financial planning and act in their clients' best interests.

The campaign budget is funded through an annual $145 assessment on each CFP mark holder. That increase in the yearly CFP renewal fee was first instituted in 2011, when the CFP Board launched the initial awareness campaign.

The effort has gone on continuously since then. The CFP Board originally approved a four-year campaign and then started reauthorizing it annually. The organization has spent more than $75 million on advertising to promote the designation.

One of the ads features a young woman, another an older couple. Various objects that symbolize their dreams — such as a house, a boat and vacations — float around them in one shot. Another shot features them sitting down with their CFP advisers.

The tag line for the ad with the young woman is "Comfortable future plan," while the tagline for the older couple is "Comfortable forever plan."

The campaign kicks off next Tuesday and will include television, radio, digital, social media, magazine and paid-search advertising. The TV ads will run on national cable networks, including CNN, CNBC, Fox, MSNBC and ESPN.

The ads will be viewable online next Tuesday.

The theme of the campaign is "More confident today and more secure tomorrow," CFP Board chief executive Kevin Keller said on a Tuesday webinar.

The campaign highlights a website where consumers can search for CFPs in their region. The target audience is people between ages 35 and 64 with investible assets between $100,000 and $1 million and a minimum household income of $100,000.This fall's advertising marks the third time the campaign has been refreshed. Four years ago, the CFP Board ran ads featuring a DJ who posed as a financial professional to illustrate that consumers should always seek out CFPs.

Unaided awareness of the CFP certification — or the ability of a consumer to mention it without prompting — peaked at 34% in 2016, but fell to 27% last year, according to a CFP assessment of its campaign. It was 17% in 2011.

"When we saw [unaided awareness] dropping off, it was time to come out with a new campaign," said Richard Salmen, CFP Board chairman.

He is pleased with the overall awareness of the CFP mark, which is about 86%, according to the CFP Board assessment.

"That puts us in the same ballpark as the CPA," Mr. Salmen said.

The board does not plan to increase the CFP renewal fee to fund the current ad campaign. It also has no intention of ending the $145 annual assessment.

The organization's surveys have indicated that 95% of CFPs say promoting the designation is a top priority, according to Mr. Salmen.

"As long as there's a need [for an awareness campaign], there's not a plan for a sunset," he said.

The CFP Board sets and enforces the educational and ethical standards as well as other requirements associated with the designation. There are approximately 82,154 CFPs in the United States.

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