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CFP Board Launches Academic Center

The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards launched the Center for Financial Planning on Wednesday as part of a larger effort to further the development of the advisory profession.

The center aims to strengthen the financial planning profession by focusing on three key components: developing and sustaining diversity, boosting NextGen talent and providing an “academic home” for the industry.

On the academic side, the CFP Board hopes to use the center to continue the expansion of its registered baccalaureate program. More than 140 colleges and universities currently participate in the program, with 45 more in development.

The center is also expected to provide research and publication opportunities to the academic community, particularly through a planned academic, peer-reviewed journal. CFP Board CEO Kevin Keller said the group is looking to hire editorial staff and work with an editorial advisory board to publish a new journal through the publisher John Wiley.

“For financial planning to fully emerge as a profession, we will need to subject the practices of financial planners to the academic rigor and an empirical research that an established profession is subject to,” Keller said.

But the center will not be “just doing research for the sake of doing research.” Instead, Keller envisions the projects focusing on ways firms and advisors can take to increase diversity and NextGen advisors. 

The research and publication opportunities will also serve to help financial planning faculty earn the tenure and promotions they need.  The journal will bring together researchers and PhD students to grow the industry’s academic body of knowledge, according to Marilyn Mohrman-Gillis, the CFP Board's managing director of public policy & communications.

Rather than a brick and mortar location, the center will function as a virtual entity within the CFP Board’s existing structure, although Keller noted that additional staff will be hired for it.

But the new center is not about just the CFP Board, Keller said, adding the organization hopes to bring together firms, as well as universities, researchers, advisors and others.

TD Ameritrade Institutional is among the first to lend its support as a lead founding sponsor. TD, which is making a five-year, multimillion dollar commitment, says the center’s mission pairs well with its ongoing efforts in the areas of diversity and attracting NextGen advisors, said Kate Healy, managing director of marketing for TD Ameritrade Institutional.

“We’re not reflecting the demographics of this country and in order for us to provide sound financial advice to all Americans that are going to need it, we really need to fix this problem,” Healy said. “It’s bigger than just us. This really needs to be a collective effort.”

In addition to TD Institutional’s support, Mohrman-Gillis said the center will raise money through a development committee. The CFP Board is also looking to put together a center advisory council.

“We can’t serve the public, the growing diverse population in the U.S., without a sustainable, diverse workforce that mirrors the American public," Mohrman-Gillis said. "And that workforce needs to be competent and ethical. So we see it squarely within the CFP’s mission.”

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