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Group looks at initiatives and projects, develops direction for new effort

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards’ (CFP Board) Center for Financial Planning recently convened an historic Design Summit to discuss the future of the financial planning profession with 42 distinguished thought leaders in the areas of financial planning, workforce development, diversity and academia. The group discussed current workforce development challenges in financial planning and potential initiatives the Center could undertake to advance the profession and cultivate the next generation of financial planners.

Leaders including Harvard University Professor John Beshears, Ph.D. and experts from the National Urban League and the National Council of La Raza were among those who attended the Center for Financial Planning Design Summit in Washington, D.C. on January 14. The Design Summit was an important opportunity for collective input on the Center’s priorities and illustrated the Center’s ability to serve as the catalyst to bring leaders from the financial planning profession, major firms and academia as well as experts in areas of diversity and workforce development together to address current challenges and build a financial planner workforce for the 21st century.

“CFP Board sits at the crossroads of those who practice financial planning, those who teach future CFP® professionals and firms that are looking for top talent to serve clients,” said CFP Board Center for Financial Planning Executive Director Marilyn Mohrman-Gillis. “The Design Summit provided a landmark opportunity for a broad cross section of leaders in financial planning and academia to discuss how they could each contribute toward creating a diverse, sustainable supply of financial planners to meet the needs of the American public.”

The Design Summit included representatives from leading financial advisory firms of all sizes and business models, such as TD Ameritrade Institutional, Northwestern Mutual, Edelman Financial, Fidelity, Merrill Lynch, Charles Schwab and several independent advisory firms. Each provided valuable input on the unique role the Center can play in addressing the shared challenges currently facing the financial planning profession.

“Everyone present at the Design Summit – and those who are contributing in other ways – is on the ground floor of this effort, transforming the profession of financial planning,” said Robert J. Glovsky, CFP®, the Center’s Advisory Council Chair and past Chair of CFP Board’s Board of Directors. “We must address the challenges facing our profession now. We need to look more like the American public we serve, provide a place for faculty to conduct research and build the body of knowledge, and identify innovative ways to encourage young people to enter the financial planning profession.”

One of the participants – TD Ameritrade Institutional’s Managing Director of Marketing Kate Healy – led a panel discussion on issues related to diversity and how the Center can help attract more women and people of color into the profession. TD Ameritrade is also the lead founding sponsor of the Center.

“This Design Summit provided a unique opportunity for representatives from across the financial services industry and other distinguished individuals to focus on the No. 1 challenge facing our profession: attracting and retaining an educated, diverse workforce that can sustain the industry and serve investors for decades to come,” said Healy. “If we don’t expand the pipeline of new financial planners, Americans face the risk of navigating complex financial challenges without trained, competent and ethical advisors to help them.”

Through the work of the Center, we will provide more opportunities and pathways that will lead to more people entering the financial planning profession, said Karen Schaeffer, CFP® - Chair of the Center’s Development Committee and a past Chair of CFP Board’s Board of Directors.

“I have the best job in the world,” said Schaeffer. “I get to help people every day solve problems and make a real difference in their lives. That’s what financial planning is really about. And that’s why I am so enthusiastic about supporting the Center’s work to attract and develop the next generation of financial planning professionals.”

Participants discussed opportunities to advance the Center’s mission in three key areas:

    • Developing a Pipeline of Financial Planners – Attendees identified the need to raise awareness of the profession and the many benefits it provides to attract more young people into the profession. They noted that this will require changing the perception of what financial planners do and emphasizing the valuable role they play in American society. Attendees also called for firms to create more institutionalized career pathways as a tool for attracting and retaining qualified talent. Attendees also emphasized the need for more financial education among the American public to help foster greater financial capability and, in turn, demand for CFP® professionals.
    • Creating a Diverse Workforce – Summit participants focused on racial, ethnic and gender diversity initiatives that the Center –by virtue of its independence and neutrality –can do that individual firms or academic institutions cannot. These include creating public awareness programs targeted to people of color and women, development of the business case for inclusive workplaces and professional teams, and the collection of data across the industry to create diversity benchmarks and score cards that individual firms can use to assess their own inclusion practices. Summit participants also agreed that successful inclusion initiatives must begin at the top of the profession, with firm leaders and executives publically pledging their support for diversity and ensuring that leadership teams reflect the same diversity goals that they are promoting.
    • Establishing an Academic Home – The Center will provide opportunities for academics to publish and conduct financial planning research that will build the body of knowledge and help faculty achieve tenure and establish financial planning programs in business schools. Investment by firms of all sizes is also needed to give validity to the research and teaching of CFP Board-Registered Programs. The Center can help connect firms that have the funding for grants with programs that are willing to conduct the research, which can then be shared to benefit the entire profession.

A formal proceedings document memorializing the discussions from the Design Summit with links to resources related to the issues discussed will be issued in spring 2016. The next step for the Center will be the creation of an Advisory Council that will guide the work of the Center by setting priorities for programmatic initiatives and research. More details about the Council and its members will be released at a later date.

About the CFP Board center for financial planning

The CFP Board Center for Financial Planning seeks to create a more diverse and sustainable financial planning profession so that every American has access to competent and ethical financial planning advice. The Center brings together CFP® professionals, firms, educators, researchers and experts to address profession-wide challenges in the areas of diversity and workforce development, and to build an academic home that offers opportunities for conducting and publishing new research that adds to the financial planning body of knowledge


Jessica Lewis
Communications Specialist
Mobile: 301-655-0389