Advisor Speak 1st June 2015
Annual cost : US$ 59. Value : Immense
LovaiiNavlakhi, International Money Matters, Bangalore


UdayDhoot gave us a curtain raiser on the upcoming CoFP annual conference scheduled for June 13th(Click Here), which is coinciding with the FPA Asia conference, which is being held for the first time in India, at Bangalore. But, what is FPA and how does an FPA membership help financial planners in India? One of India's most successful and most recognised financial planners, LovaiiNavlakhi takes us through how he and less than 50 CFPs in India are benefiting tangibly from being FPA members, and why they unhesitatingly and readily pay the annual membership fee of US$ 59. Read on to understand why Lovaii believes so strongly in an FPA membership, what's planned for the big event later this month (June 10th - 12th) and how you can participate in this exciting event.

WF: What is FPA and how does it differentiate itself from FPSB?

Lovaii: FPSB is the owner of the CFP mark and the body that handles the certification of financial planners. FPA is an association of investment professionals working for the benefit of its members.

WF: What are the key activities of FPA and how geographically diverse is its membership?

Lovaii: The FPA (Financial Planning Association) is headquartered in Denver USA and governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. It aims to be the principal professional organisation for CFP professionals, educators, financial service providers and students. Membership is on an annual basis and numbers may hence vary. FPA holds two major conferences in the US every year - the annual conference or now called the Business & Education (BE) event held in September/ October over 3 days and the Retreat held in April/ May over 3 days. The FPA-BE has 300 international delegates attending out of a total 2000+, whereas the Retreat is a more focussed conference with about 300 attendees in total. Apart from these conferences, there are Residency programs, regular publications and sharing of ideas through Knowledge Circles which happen online. If you have a question while dealing with a client on cross border issues for example, a simple post may find dozens of answers online in the next few days. International membership to the FPA is just $ 59 annually and is certainly value for money.

WF: This year's FPA-Asia conference we understand, will be held in Bangalore. Is this the first time that India will be hosting this event?

Lovaii: FPA Asia as a concept kicked off in 2014, after deliberations at the Knowledge Café in FPA BE in September 2013. The idea was to spread the knowledge and interaction that was happening in the US to the Asian region. (There is a FPA Europe which started a few years ago.) Malaysia was the first host, and India is the next. It is a matter of great pride and a privilege for Bangalore to be hosting this event. What we want to ensure is that apart from the FPA events (Financial Planner visits and International Community gathering), the overseas delegates also get a feel of the local flavour of financial planning and the personal finance industry. That is being delivered through the COFP India 2015 Annual Convention which is in its second year, on June 13.

WF: What are the main themes for this conference? How many participants are you expecting from how many countries? Who will be the key speakers?

Lovaii: The theme for the conference is "People. Process. Potential. India's Pathway to Global Financial Planning". We expect over 250 delegates to attend the June 13 event. We are fortunate to get insights from professionals from Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore, many of whom scour the globe and bring a rich global experience to the conference.

Among the keynote speakers will be Mr RanjeetMudholkar of FPSB India and Mr V S Radhakrishnan of Janalakshmi Financial, with local experts in their respective fields -- Mr AnandKasturi, Mr Dushyanth Sridhar, Ms Susmita Das Gupta, Mr Vikram Sridhar; and international speakers such as Mr Tony Mahabir and Mr Shawn Brayman. Well known journalist Ms Monika Halan will lead a panel on Regulatory issues, and we shall also have a panel on global best practices, taking advantage of the other international delegates who will be present in Bangalore.

WF: Who can attend this conference from India? Do you have to become an FPA member to attend?

Lovaii: Any finance professional can attend the conference - I think he must have the thirst for knowledge and realise that attending these sessions and networking with fellow professionals will add value to their practice and stature. COFP members have a discounted price and we are seeing some outstation attendees becoming members - as mentioned in Uday's interview, we do have regular monthly get togethers on the 2nd Wednesday of the month since past 7 years + -- and may be that attracts them too.

For the International Community Gathering (which is now sold out) on June 11 & 12, it is a must to be a FPA member. The annual fees are $ 59 and the benefits are disproportionally better. So while there is no need to become a FPA member for the other events (Financial Planner visits on June 10 and Annual Convention), you could evaluate the benefits.

WF: How does one become a member of FPA? What are the benefits of an FPA membership? How many members from India does FPA have?

Lovaii: The site for the FPA membership is You will see that the FPA membership has focus areas of Professional Education, Business Success, Advocacy and Community. Apart from conferences and events, a member gets access to the Journal of Financial Planning. Becoming part of the community through knowledge circles enables one to expand their horizons. As the investors get global and travel on work, or temporary stay or transfer to different countries, we realise that we do not have the skillsets, knowledge and awareness to meet all their needs. The FPA community is one place where fellow professionals are more than willing to help.

Everyone who attends the Annual FPA BE is a member of FPA - over the years, we have had delegations of 8-15 Indians going to the US. The membership numbers may be in a fledgling stage (under 50 is my guess), but those who have seen benefits have not hesitated to renew their annual membership.

WF: Is CoFP shaping up as an India chapter of FPA? How do you see FPA's activities in India shaping up after this conference?

Lovaii: In the US, the FPA is a national body with local chapters in each state/ region. The structure is a volunteer Board of Directors which provides strategic direction to the activities which benefit its members -- planners and finance professionals.

CoFP does not aim to shape up as an India chapter of FPA. However, CoFP will be delighted to partner with any organisation having common interests that its members could benefit from. There may be merit in having a body in India which can transfer the learnings from the FPA in the US and in Europe among the planning fraternity in India. I do think that this conference will increase the awareness in this regard and open up dialogue. Already, there is an Asia Pacific chair in the FPA International community and I know 3-4 Indians who have occupied that position in the past decade.

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