The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards has proposed raising its membership fee by 80% to support a marketing initiative.

The board would increase the fee to $324 and make it an annual fee, its chief executive Kevin Keller announced this week in Denver at the Financial Planning Association's annual conference. (Certified financial planners currently pay CFP Board dues twice a year. In a survey the board conducted in the second quarter, only 12% of CFPs said they wanted to pay fees biannually.)

Bob Glovsky, the organization's chairman, said that if the measure is approved by the CFP Board in November, the fee increase could be implemented by July 1.

"CFPs are invoiced once every other year," Glovsky said. "We are hoping they will see the results before they feel an impact."

The CFP Board plans to use the $9 million in additional funds to pay for an aggressive public awareness campaign. It has hired Arnold Advertising, which boasts clients such as Fidelity Investments, USA Today and McDonald's, to run the campaign, which would kick off in July.

The campaign would target mass-affluent "validators," who are "optimistic, future-oriented" investors, Keller said.

It would include an updated website, online advertisements and some use of social media.

"To increase consumer awareness of, preference for and use of CFP professionals, we need to make an investment of time, energy and resources," Glovsky said. "From listening to my fellow CFP professionals, it's clear that they understand this and are willing to do their part."

In the second-quarter survey of 7,200 CFPs, 94% of planners said that improving public awareness was critical.

Keller said that there's an "alphabet soup of designations," and that consumer research indicates the public is confused.

The organization has not raised its fees since 2005.

Keller said he has made 13 or 14 presentations nationally, and the board has done a direct mailing to let CFPs know about the awareness campaign.

Glovsky said the board has a $25 million reserve and plans to use $6 million of it to get the campaign started.

He said it "wouldn't be prudent" to use all of the reserve for a marketing initiative.

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