FPA raises most campaign funds ever at single reception at annual conference

Organization seeks more support from members for political efforts

Oct 18, 2019 @ 11:20 am

By Mark Schoeff Jr.

The Financial Planning Association reached new heights this week in raising money from its members for its political action committee, an accomplishment the organization hopes will bolster its ability to contribute to lawmakers' 2020 campaigns.

On Wednesday, the FPA PAC took in $22,300 during a reception at the FPA annual conference in Minneapolis.

"It's our best fundraising from a reception ever," said Karen Nystrom, FPA director of advocacy.

The money in the FPA PAC is used to make political donations to members of Congress. Those contributions can help open doors for the organization on Capitol Hill when it lobbies lawmakers on financial advice issues.

Like many other trade associations in the advice sector, the FPA has put an emphasis on Capitol Hill days in which its members come to Washington to lobby lawmakers and their aides.

"With our advocacy day, we're getting better traction on the Hill," Ms. Nystrom said. "People understand it and are willing to give to make sure that continues."

The FPA hopes to give about $42,500 to legislators this year. The campaign cycle started in January and lasts until Dec. 31, 2020. If the group makes a similar amount of donations to politicians next year, its total campaign spending would still be a fraction of what the brokerage and insurance industries spend.

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But the FPA PAC is the only avenue for political donations for the Financial Planning Coalition, which is made up of the FPA, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors and the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. Neither NAPFA nor the CFP Board has a PAC.

CFP Board chairwoman Susan John stressed how the FPA PAC helps the profession raise its political voice.

"It's so important to educate all of our congresspeople and people in our statehouses about the things that we do because frankly, they don't have a clue," Ms. John said at a conference session. "So it's really important to give them our perspective on how we help our clients every day and how they can protect the public by enacting appropriate legislation."

Campaign finance rules restrict the total amount an FPA member can give to its PAC to $5,000 annually. One of the group's fundraising strategies is to find 50 members who are willing to commit $5,000 for five years in a row, Ms. Nystrom said.

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