Adulthood can be lonely. Even in an industry like financial services where you spend most of your time working one-on-one with clients, it's easy to miss the camaraderie of your school days, when friendships formed as easily as "trade you my PB&J for your turkey."

For financial planners, connections with other professionals can be hard to come by. This is where associations for financial professionals come in.

"Professional membership organizations provide financial planners with essential connections to their peers," says Evelyn Zohlen, national president of the Financial Planning Association (FPA). "They are the foundation of our professional community."

Zolen first joined FPA back in 2002 after leaving her job at Vanguard.

"I was missing professional camaraderie and thought, 'There must be an association of financial planners that I can join, folks who will be my tribe,'" she recalls. She joined FPA that October and has been a member ever since.

"It's not an overstatement to say I wouldn't be the planner I am today without FPA," she says.


"Joining a professional association offers a community of like minded peers, insight into diverse business perspectives and experiences that can help them to improve their planning acumen," says Geoffrey Bown, CEO of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA).

"Professional organizations also offer educational opportunities that can teach financial planners how to better serve their clients, stay on the cutting edge of technical planning topics, and how to keep up with the ever changing landscape of technology and products/services that can help planners to improve their firms," he says.

If you're looking to connect with like-minded peers, consider joining one of these five professional organizations for financial planners:

The Financial Planning Association (FPA)

The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA)

National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA)

The Association for Financial Professionals (AFP)

The CFP Board

The Financial Planning Association (FPA)

FPA describes itself as "the principal membership organization for certified financial planner (CFP) professionals, educators, financial service providers and students." While the core members are CFPs, Zohlen says FPA welcomes all professionals who practice financial planning as fiduciaries . It's open to financial planners at any stage of their career journey, from novice to master to leader of the profession, she says.

"For example, students and those in the process of preparing to take the CFP examination can find opportunities to begin their career journeys," she says. "Also, academics and those engaged in educating students at CFP Board-registered programs can join to collaborate with their academic peers and the practitioners who will be applying their research."

She says the value of FPA membership of membership is different for every member because everyone who joins is seeking something different," but can generally be divided into four categories:

Community: There's 85 local chapters and state councils, and regular national conferences and events.

Education: Live and on-demand virtual learning and a Coaches Corner where members can learn from top business leaders and coaches in the industry.

Business support: PlannerSearch connects consumers with planners and the FPA MediaSource connects planners with journalists.

Advocacy: FPA engages with state and federal policymakers, lawmakers and regulators to influence policies impacting the financial industry.

FPA membership costs around $395 per year for CFP professionals (less for students and faculty), although the price varies by location depending on chapter dues.

The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA)

"NAPFA is the professional home of fee-only comprehensive financial planners," Brown says. "NAPFA members represent many different types of firms, from solo shops to enterprise-level firms managing billions of dollars in client assets."

The diversity of their members is one of NAPFA's strengths, he says. "The differences in the way NAPFA members run their firms or deliver advice only helps to increase the knowledge base that a new member can draw from."

The over 3,700 NAPFA practitioners are united by three values: to provide independent, objective financial advice ; to serve the public interest and to be a standard bearer for the profession of financial planning. They share a "desire to serve clients, under what we feel, is the most independent and objective structure available," Brown says.


Each member must sign a fiduciary oath yearly and subscribe to the association's code of ethics and complete an application process that can take four to six weeks.

NAPFA membership cost ranges from $35 per year for full-time students to $695 per year for NAPFA-registered financial advisors.

National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA)

NAIFA doesn't discriminate. It's proud to call itself "the only organization serving and representing insurance and financial advisors regardless of the products they sell, or the focus of their practice." Members include insurance agents, financial advisors, independent advisors , multiline agents and employee benefit specialists.

NAIFA focuses on helping you protect and grow your business and promote ethical business conduct within the industry. Membership includes a listing on the organization's consumer-facing Advisors You Can Trust website, access to a virtual library of practice management resources and prospecting tools, monthly live meetings with speakers and the opportunity to become a speaker yourself.

NAIFA membership costs range from $10 per month those who are new to the financial industry and want limited member benefits to $56 per month once you've been a financial professional for five-plus years.

The Association for Financial Professionals (AFP)

Corporate financial planners may be interested in joining AFP. The organization aims to support treasury and corporate finance professionals. It administers the certified treasury professional and certified corporate financial planning and analysis (FP&A) professional credential.

FP&A professionals help organizations make financial decisions. To get your FP&A credential, you must pass a two-part examination and meet certain eligibility requirements.

AFP membership benefits include an online and in-person community, live and on-demand training, career path assistance, access to industry research and tools and resources to support your work. There's also an annual worldwide networking conference said to bring together more than 7,000 corporate financial professionals.

AFP membership is $495 annually and may be deducted as a business expense (but not a charitable contribution).

The Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Board

While not technically an association for financial professionals, the CFP Board does offer support and resources for current and aspiring CFPs. For instance, the CFP Board Mentor Program connects CFP candidates with current certification holders. And the community forum provides a place for candidates to connect with CFP professionals.


The CFP Board also hosts the online Center for Financial Planning, where firms, educators and financial planners can work together on using research to solve industry and practice challenges.

The best part of the CFP's resources is they're all free – once you pay the $825 exam fee and pass the CFP exam , that is.

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Raymond Mitchell, Author

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