The Canadian Institute of Financial Planners (CIFPs) is joining forces with the Retirement Planning Association of Canada (RPAC) to form a larger and broader association of financial and retirement planners.

At the CIFPs annual general meeting in Vancouver on Monday, members approved a special motion that will see RPAC join CIFPs and operate within the institute as the CIFPs Retirement Institute.

RPAC is a national organization for integrated financial and lifestyle retirement planning. It aims to help its 100 members guide their clients on retirement matters through educational resources and professional development programs, including the professional retirement planner (PRP) designation.

“We see this as an opportunity to strengthen both of our associations,” said Ida-Jean McIntyre, president of RPAC. She said the integration will bring together RPAC’s expertise on the softer side of retirement planning with CIFPs’ expertise on the financial side.

“We look forward to better meeting the needs of our collective members, as well as our clients, through integrating lifestyle and financial components into a truly holistic approach to retirement planning,” McIntyre said.

Keith Costello said the partnership was a natural fit for CIFPs since its members are increasingly focused on retirement planning as a key component of financial planning. CIFPs has been working to beef up its resources in this area to ensure its members are well prepared for the looming demographic shift.

“A lot of our clients and members are focusing on retirement planning because it’s the fastest growing demographic,” he said. “There’s a need to specialize.”

Under the partnership, RPAC members will become members of the retirement institute and will be included in a new category of CIFPs membership, classified as ‘retirement members’.

Following the formal amalgamation of the two associations, the PRP designation will no longer be bestowed to any new candidates. However, those who have already earned the designation will be able to maintain it.

Meanwhile, CIFPs will continue to offer the registered retirement consultant (RRC) designation, which it introduced about two years ago to help its members develop a specialization in the retirement planning space. RPAC will work with the institute to tweak the curriculum offered under the designation to incorporate lifestyle considerations and soft skills.

“There will be enhanced lifestyle planning components and modules that will be introduced to the RRC curriculum to ensure that there is a more integrated and more enhanced holistic approach to retirement planning,” McIntyre said.

“We’ll put them together,” Costello said, “and it will be an even stronger program of people who want to do the holistic lifestyle approach and also have the financial calculations in retirement planning. So it’s a win-win.”

Also at the annual general meeting on Monday, CIFPs members voted to re-elect Tony Mahabir, principal at Canfin Management Inc., as chairman for 2012. Jim Boylan, financial planner and branch manager at SISIP Financial Services in Halifax, was elected first vice chairman, and Carol Chow, director of advice and service capability at CIBC, was elected second vice chairwoman.