The Financial Planning Association, anxious to build its cache of student chapters at colleges across the country, set aside time at the organization’s annual conference in San Diego this week to instruct young attendees how to start their own chapters.

The reason: the trade group wants to ensure that it continues to be vibrant in the face of an aging membership base, as the average age is now 53, says Sara Reynolds, FPA’s director of chapter and volunteer relations. “This pipeline is about to go dry as the average older member nears retirement age,” Reynolds told attendees of the Thursday session. “There is a huge vaccuum of younger professionals who might not yet be active in FPA.”

Currently 14 student chapters exist at colleges in various parts of the country, but Reynolds expects that number to double this year, as the trade group actively promotes the initiative to both students and area professionals who could draw from a college population for both volunteer service and future labor talent.

Somerset, Ky. planner Larry Botzman agrees, “If a student is a member of FPA, they’ll get a call back from me,” says Botzman, who is also program director for the FPA chapter serving central Kentucky and southern Indiana. “We can help your career by giving you the alliances you need.”

His chapter is currently working with three colleges in the area to form student chapters. Spearheading the effort at Western Kentucky University is his son, Brandon.

“We want to build awareness of finance and financial planning, help students get to conventions, and get experiences in the field that you just can’t get in the classroom,” the younger Botzman says.

Reynolds says the national staff will help students having trouble forming a club, as bylaws and other legal documents required by each university can always be negotiated.

The more students of each chapter who become FPA members at the special annual rate of $35, the more financial resources local practitioner chapters can devote through services, she says. Moreover, students receive many benefits as members of the trade group, including access to FPA Connect, an online social networking platform.

“This really demonstrates how committed we are to the next generation,” Reynolds says. “We get it – we understand that’s how you best network with other members.”