In one of the first keynotes at the event, Mr Richards said the PFS, the professional body for Chartered Financial Planners, had achieved 40,000 members after 15 years in existence and growth was continuing.
He added that while there were many issues in finding new blood for the profession PFS membership was continuing to grow 'marginally' but was at least not declining like some professions.
Nearly 2,000 finance professionals were due to attend the PFS 'Futureproof' Financial Planning Conference today.
Mr Richards said it was important for the country to see a strong, growing Financial Planning profession to meet the growing demand for financial advice and tackle a poor savings ratio.
He told delegates that in the future: "You will be needed more than ever. There are significant changes coming to society and that role (of trusted adviser) can be best performed by the people in this room."
There were many challenges facing the profession, he said, including the fallout from the DB transfer debacle, lack of trust in financial advice and financial problems damaging consumer attitudes such as the British Steel Pension Crisis.
The difficulty of finding Professional Indemnity insurance cover in the wake of the DB pension transfer problems was also a major issue and he said the PFS was engaging strongly with government and regulators to try to find a solution.
On the positive side he said the PFS had increased its role as a financial educator and praised the 750 volunteers who had visited 150 schools to help education young people about the importance of good Financial Planning.
He also praised the PFS-supported Pension Gold Transfer Standard which had seen 1,000 firms sign up to back it.
The conference has several streams focusing on key Financial Planning areas including: Professional Development, Financial Planning Skills, Business Development and Investment.
Stream topics will include: Futureproofing your annual planning meetings, cashflow modelling, Playing at Planning?, Inter-generational wealth and the intriguing "How to love your clients to death with your service." The day will conclude with a dinner reception and the Personal Finance Awards 2019/2020.
The PFS is part of the Chartered Insurance Institute.
• Mr Richards also revealed that the popular PFS Festival of Financial Planning, which attracted 3,500 people two years ago, would return to Birmingham next year.