WASHINGTON -- The number of colleges and universities offering degree and certificate programs in financial planning continues to rise.

That, says the CFP Board, is the good news.

But the institutions offering those programs report that they are struggling to find qualified faculty to teach those courses, according to Charles Chaffin, the CFP Board's director of academic programs and initiatives.

"We have a critical need for faculty across the board, whether it's a degree or non-degree program," Chaffin said Thursday at the opening session of the board's annual Registered Program Conference.

Since 2010, the number of financial planning programs approved by the CFP Board has climbed 13%. At present, the board recognizes 372 programs at 227 colleges and universities.

Of those, 191 are certificate programs. Of the registered degree programs, 127 confer bachelor's degrees, 49 award a master's degree and five are at the doctoral level.

The CFP Board reports that 55 potential new programs are currently in the pipeline, comprised of either prospective programs under evaluation or those that are in development. Of those, three-quarters would confer bachelor's degrees, continuing a trend that has seen the number of registered baccalaureate programs increase 40% since 2010.

"With all of those new programs comes opportunity for leadership," Chaffin says.

He urges firms to take a more active role in the academic community, both to help encourage student enrollment and address the faculty shortage. Advisors with the CFP credential could seek out adjunct professorships at local colleges, for instance, to help supplement the faculty with full academic or professional qualifications.

The CFP Board is making industry-academic collaboration a centerpiece of this year's registered program conference, kicking off the event with the first-ever "firm night," where industry representatives are on hand to compare notes with officials from college and university programs. In all, 23 firms from across the spectrum of business models sent delegates to this year's conference.

Increasingly, the CFP Board sees itself as a "convener" of industry and academic collaboration, an official with the board explains. At the same time, the board's education wing is working actively to generate interest in colleges and universities to launch and expand financial planning programs, and then to advocate on behalf of those programs to department heads and deans.

Chaffin sees those efforts paying off in the number of new programs coming online, but he cautions that those advances could easily roll back if the faculty shortage persists.

"I don't think it's an overstatement to say that the need for faculty is critical," he says. "It's an exciting time, and this is a great problem to have -- it really is. But I would say that we're starting to see at some of our institutions positions are coming open and they're not being filled. And as we all know, when positions aren't filled in academia they're lost. And so it's a significant challenge that we're facing."

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