For many years, our profession has enjoyed positive growth forecasts. Yet we are facing a workforce crisis of significant proportions: There are currently more CFP professionals older than 70 than under 30. Our veteran CFP professionals’ decisions to begin their own retirement is happening at the worst possible time, when more people need their ethical and competent assistance than ever before.

So what can be done?

The CFP Board has aggressively been working with colleges and universities over the last several years, encouraging them to offer financial planning programs at all levels — certificate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, even Ph.D.s. We need to strengthen the profession’s academic foundation and give students more opportunities to get the education they need to sit for the CFP exam and launch careers.

We now have 225 institutions offering more than 370 programs. (A few of them are highlighted on these pages.) But growth in the number of academic institutions is not enough. We need better rates for graduation and certification completion, and so are working with our academic partners to create incentives for students to complete their studies and sit for the CFP exam.

We are also building bridges between our academic partners and the financial firms that want to hire young talent at our educational programs. In August, the CFP Board held its first ever “firms’ night” during its annual registered programs conference. Firm representatives and academic faculty engaged in a bit of “speed dating” to discuss collaborative programs that help young financial planners begin their careers. That’s something with great benefits for everyone involved.

We’ve got other programs that we expect will help. We recently announced our launch of an online career center — a one-stop shop for job seekers, students and others interested in the CFP certification and financial planning as a career. This resource will have rich content that people can use to help them find their first job or grow in their career. We expect it to complement the work the FPA is doing, particularly with its student chapters, in providing “boots on the ground” to encourage younger people to enter the profession.

And we’ve announced a suite of initiatives to further advance the academic body of knowledge for the profession, including a project with John Wiley & Sons to develop a peer-reviewed academic journal focused exclusively on financial planning, and the creation of a CFP Board Center for Financial Planning. We envision that as a credible source of research and a driver for other industry collaboration.

Now it’s your turn. I challenge other CFP professionals to offer internships to students and those just out of college to provide them with a taste of how great a financial planning career can be. Mentor a young person and encourage him or her to become a CFP professional and enter the profession.

These things alone won’t solve the challenges we have ahead of us in getting the next generation of young people into the profession. But we should address this head-on, together, so consumers — now and well into the future — will have access to CFP professionals who put clients first and help them achieve their financial goals through planning.

Ray Ferrara, CFP, is chairman and CEO of ProVise Management Group in Clearwater, Fla., and chairman of the CFP Board.

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