Participatory Governance Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is participatory governance?

Participatory governance means exploring structural changes that invite more leaders, especially chapter leaders, to be involved in the strategic direction setting of FPA on a macro level and working out the details of centralized functionality on a micro level. While it may seem complicated to involve more leaders in discussions and decision-making, we believe that FPA will always be stronger when more voices are heard and more leaders are engaged in accomplishing FPA’s Primary Aim.

What is centralized functionality?

FPA is comprised of 89 legally incorporated entities (one national organization, 86 chapters, two state councils), and a host of other communities. While the individuality, culture and autonomy of these communities must be honored to support the importance of diversity, we believe that there is also great power in unifying several key aspects/elements in FPA to gain efficiencies and effectiveness. The key areas of centralized functionality that are being explored in the OneFPA Network are: Technology; Accounting/Finance; and Staffing. While centralized functionality creates opportunities for greater alignment and integration, chapters will determine and control their budgets, programs, local leadership and continue to direct the responsibilities of their chapter executives.  

What about the specific details?

Through the work of several key OneFPA task forces and committees that will be comprised of equal representation from chapter and national leaders, the specific details of how these centralized areas will function will be discussed and determined. To start, a lot of information will have to be gathered, shared and assessed about current operations before any decisions are made. Once the information is gathered and after initial recommendations are made, there will be ongoing testing and assessments, including benchmarking and tracking key metrics to determine how well the new systems are operating and whether adjustments need to be made. Because of the OneFPA Network’s commitment to participatory governance, chapter leaders will be involved in the development, implementation and assessment processes every step of the way.  

When and how will the OneFPA Network happen?

The OneFPA Network concept is being unveiled at CLC with a corresponding launch of a microsite that will house all the OneFPA Network information and provide opportunities for feedback. Also, there will be opportunities for feedback at CLC and afterwards as FPA leaders engage in a three-month listening tour that will involve connecting with every chapter board, virtually or in-person. Feedback during the listening tour will result in potential adjustments to the OneFPA Network with a final recommendation presented to the Board of Directors in March 2019. The final proposal will include resource assessments and timing recommendations with respect to when and how each aspect of the OneFPA Network should unfold.  While we work together on the OneFPA Network specifics in 2019, the intent is for chapters and other FPA communities to continue to operate as usual in 2019 as we prepare for changes in 2020. 

Will an analysis be provided that clearly shows the member experience has been enhanced under the new construct?

There is no reason to move to the OneFPA Network model if we can’t demonstrate improvements in critical organizational areas, including the elevation of the member experience. A set of robust measures will be established to test and learn from the implementation of the OneFPA Network model. Baselines will need to be established first after current information is received from chapters. Also, all OneFPA committees will be required to establish metrics to measure the success of their committee’s charge. 

What if this doesn’t work?

As a learning organization, FPA is committed to initiating transformational change in service of our members and the financial planning profession, which means we will adjust as we learn from direct experience. Many leaders—national and local—were involved in the creation of the OneFPA Network and many will be involved every step of the way. Nothing is being implemented without careful consideration and some things may change after experience and careful review.  

What are the contingency plans and are we okay with losing chapters/members?

Adjustments and “contingency plans” depend on what we learn and experience during and after OneFPA Network implementation. One of the primary goals of the OneFPA Network is to increase the recruitment and retention of members, but as with any transformational change, short-term challenges will be faced. It is how we come together as a single, extraordinary organization to address those challenges that will be important. 

Why are you using the name “TNC” instead of “chapter”?

The term “TNC” (The New Chapter) is being used as a placeholder name for local geographic communities under the OneFPA Network. Because we are moving to a new system, it’s best to select a different moniker to avoid confusion and distinguish the old from the new. While the preference is to not use the term “chapter” to describe local communities under the OneFPA Network, we are open to whatever title makes the most sense. In keeping with a participatory governance approach, local volunteer leaders and staff will be encouraged to share their sentiment on this issue. 

Why must we get rid of local legal entities?

Legal entities at the local level add a layer of legal responsibility and bureaucracy that is not necessary. Local entities, without being legally incorporated, can operate just as they do right now with the same leadership titles, programmatic responsibilities and legal protections.

Does FPA have the resources and staff to manage the transition?

The implementation of the OneFPA Network will require careful budget planning and phasing. FPA does not have the staff currently to manage the full implementation of the OneFPA Network, but through business and budget planning in 2019, a timeline will be established with budget and staffing implications. The goals of the OneFPA Network include greater efficiency and effectiveness, which will result in savings in some areas and expansion in other areas, but all geared toward improving the member experience. 

Will there still be a board of directors, like now, for each TNC?

Yes, while the legal entity will be dissolved, each TNC will continue to have a volunteer board and leadership positions and a leadership ladder, like the ones that currently exist. TNCs will continue to select their leaders.

Will all chapters be converted to TNCs or will some chapters not be converted to TNCs and new ones created?

There is no plan to add or remove TNCs. We expect through the experience with the OneFPA Network, there may be changes to local TNCs, but when that happens and where that happens is impossible to determine now. The bottom line is that we want to encourage and support strong TNCs that enhance the member experience and the strategic success of FPA.

My chapter is very successful, will we have to transition to the new system?

Every chapter will have to transition to the new system. While some chapters are highly successful, and others struggle, unless all chapters move to the new system, there is no way to truly create a consistent FPA member experience where every member and every local community benefits. Eventually, even a successful chapter will face challenges or not reach its potential if the whole of FPA is not elevated. 

How is a participatory governance structure different from the current governance structure?

Under participatory governance, there is a robust democratization of leadership participation with more local leaders involved, which is vastly different than the current system. Under the current system, while chapter leaders are chosen to participate in many national governance groups, it is not a formalized process that guarantees inclusion.  

What control will TNCs have over their activities?

TNCs will maintain their local culture through the ongoing development and oversight of local programs and services including the creation of their annual business plans and budgets. 

How many members will the OneFPA Council have and will it be too large and unwieldy, especially with rotating volunteer leaders?

The Council will be comprised of a representative from each TNC and other leaders who represent other key communities within FPA (e.g. NexGen). The Council may initially have between 90 to 100 members. The purpose of the Council is to act as a strategic sounding board and provide feedback at a high level, so the size of the Council will not be an issue. OneFPA Council members will populate committees and task forces and that’s where more detailed analysis and decision-making will occur. To ensure a smooth leadership transition from one year to the next, TNC chair-elects will participate in the last meeting of the OneFPA Council each year.   

Is there a potential power dynamic or confusion of authority between the FPA Board of Directors and the OneFPA Council?

Under the OneFPA Network, the FPA Board of Directors is still the fiduciary body that is legally charged with overseeing the organization, so there is no confusion of authority. The OneFPA Council provides overall strategic input, populates key committees and task forces, and has equal representation on the nominating committee, which selects the slate of national Board members.  

Will members choose which FPA TNC they belong to or will they be assigned? Can I participate in more than one TNC in my state as a member?

There is no plan to change from the current system. Of course, as the OneFPA Network and the OneFPA committees get to work, all policies will be examined for effectiveness and delivery of the best member experience. 

What if my chapter decides not to join national?

Chapters are not joining national, they are further integrating with FPA within the OneFPA Network. As part of this transition, each chapter will become a TNC according to the Governance Manual which will include clear policies and procedures between FPA headquarters, TNCs and other FPA communities. If a chapter decides not to integrate and follow the Governance Manual, they will no longer exist as an FPA-affiliated community and will not have FPA members.

How are we going to measure whether this initiative is successful and, specifically, how are we going to ensure that centralized functionality is operating optimally? 

All OneFPA committees and task forces will be charged with developing a set of metrics to measure success. Additionally, as part of the OneFPA Resource Coordination Committee’s charge, there will be baseline protocols and metrics for each TNC to implement to help TNCs measure their progress. 

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