Five months after backing off a push into continuing education, the CFP Board has reoriented its educational efforts with plans for a new think tank and academic journal.

The board said Thursday that it is considering forming a new center for financial planning -- to be housed at what one CFP ambassador called its “stunning” new Washington D.C. headquarters -- as well as a new peer-reviewed academic journal that would be tied to the center.

The center would fund and house academic research aimed at developing “the next generation of competent and ethical financial planners,” says board chairman Raymond Ferrara, who announced the initiatives in a webinar that also included several other speakers.

“We believe there is a critical need in the financial planning [profession] for a center for financial planning,” Ferrara says, adding that the yet-unnamed journal did not aim to compete with the FPA’s Journal of Financial Planning.

The board says it plans to present proposals for both ventures to its full board of directors in July.

'KIND OF SURPRISING'

The board's proposals took some in the industry by surprise. “It’s kind of surprising not to know about it” ahead of time, says Vickie Hampton, chairwoman of Texas Tech University's planning department -- one of the country's largest such programs. “If they hire a bunch of people [at the center and journal] to do the research and run it, then it’s probably not going to be what you want," she says. "But if it’s a volunteer organization where they get the best researchers to work on stuff, then it could be interesting.”

The board did not specify an expected research budget, but Ferrara says it intends to host researchers at the center.

As the financial planning profession expands in universities and colleges globally, academics need more outlets to publish work on the subject of financial planning, Hampton says: “As an academic it would be nice to have a journal that was a high-quality journal that really was looking to financial planning issues."

An FPA spokesman said the group would need to look into the proposal " in the coming days" before making any public comment.

If the journal is approved, the board plans to publish it with New Jersey publisher John Wiley & Sons, which published the board'sFinancial Planning Competency Handbook last year.

FURTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

The board used the webinar for other announcements as well. It said Louisiana State University is launching what it called the first financial planning Ph.D. to be housed in a college business school accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

The speakers also discussed the board's current advertising and marketing campaign, saying that in 2013 the CFP mark had recorded a total of 3 billion “earned media impressions” -- a number that, it said, did not include those the board paid for through its advertisements.

The webinar’s moderator, Raymond James planner and CFP ambassador Joshua Charles, noted that the board's achievements had come “despite headwinds from negative media related to ongoing litigation [surrounding] enforcement of our compensation disclosure rules.”

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