Society of Financial Planners (SOFP) is the sole pan India group of Certified Financial Planners registered in India. Jayant Vidwans, one of the founding members & the President talks about the activities of SOFP with Cafemutual
When was the group formed? What prompted you to start this group?
We decided to form this group in December 2006 and we got the registration on 18 May 2007. It is registered as a ‘trust’ under Bombay Public Trust Act 1950 and as a ‘society’ under the Societies Registration Act 1860 of central government. We can have members from all over India. The objective behind starting this group was that we wanted to upgrade the skills and knowledge of financial planners.
How many members does your group have?
We started with 25 members and today we number 239. Generally, 8 to 10 members join us every month.
Is there any membership fee to join your group?
Yes, we charge an annual membership fee of Rs 1,000. We also give affiliation for CFP students at a nominal fee of Rs 500. The students are allowed to attend any training session organized by us by paying a concessional fee.
What are the criteria to become a member?
Only practicing CFPs are allowed to join SOFP. There are around 1200 CFPs in India. Out of these 1200, only those who are practicing can become members of our group. People who hold a CFP degree and are working with AMCs or insurance firms cannot become a member of SOFP. However, a CFP degree holder working as an employee of a practicing CFP is entitled to be our member.
What kind of knowledge enhancement activities do you conduct?
Our activities are concentrated mainly in Mumbai, Pune, Indore and Baroda. We conduct training programs on various topics once or twice every quarter for upgrading the knowledge of financial planners. The sessions cover subjects like taxation, estate planning, etc. We conduct lectures on mutual funds and insurance also.
We have been receiving overwhelming response from our members. We restrict the number of members who attend some of our sessions. For instance, in our training program on the subject, ‘How to make a Financial Plan with Excel’, only a few people can attend it. The reason for restricting the entry is because each person is given full attention so that he/she is able to perform those functions on their computer or laptop. It’s a one to one training program. If special attention needs to be given to each member, we cannot have more than 30 people in a classroom. We had arranged an open session on how to prepare a Will which was attended by more than 150 people.
We run an online Google group called Society of Financial Planners. In this group, any student can post a query about any subject on financial planning and he/she will get a reply within three hours from the members spread all over India.
Do you interact with AMFI/SEBI regarding the issues in the mutual fund industry?
As a society, we do not have any interaction or dialogue with AMFI. We are working with National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM). We help them in translating some of their study material in regional languages and work in close tandem with them.
Do you involve fund houses in the activities of your group?
We hire the services of industry professionals in their individual capacity. We do not look for any support from any fund house.
You currently have four chapters. Are you planning to set up more chapters in other cities too?
We can have many chapters but there has to be sufficient number of members in a particular area. There are around 50 CFP students in Nashik and 15 registered members from the same city but we have not received a request from them to have their own chapter in Nashik yet. We are ready to support any city which takes the initiative or shows interest in having a separate chapter.