You've heard the glowing forecasts: Affluent Americans by the millions who have yet to work with a financial advisor will seek one out in the years to come. That's just one of the reasons the number of schools offering planning coursework has soared to 333 CFP Board-registered programs today, including master's and Ph.D. programs, from just one four decades ago.
That's great for instructors, but why should you care if you're already a planner? Because the people you'll consider hiring at your firm as your business grows - and the planners of the future who'll be competing with you for clients - will likely be graduating from those schools.
In this month's cover story on leading schools for financial planning, FP's Danielle Reed finds a solid academic base that will spawn legions of advisors and, importantly, support the profession through research and analysis.
Academic training before professional training will give planners a solid foundation on which to build, akin to the depth a student develops in medical school combined over time with a doctor's wisdom gained from treating patients.
Another part of that equation is ethics. "Ethical decision-making is a skill, not a hope," says Julie Ragatz, the newly named director of the Center for Ethics in Financial Services at the American College. "We can't train people to make ethical decisions. What I can do is teach skills to make sure that people's decisions reflect their own deeply personal values.'' Writer Suzanne Sataline profiles Ragatz and looks at her efforts to teach those skills.
Ragatz acknowledges that "this is a tough economy and a tough business and, as with all salespeople, production matters." But she adds: "If you do what's right and treat your client the way you would want to be treated ... you will be successful. It doesn't mean that you're going to make the sale, that you're going to be the top producer. It doesn't mean long term that you're going to be the most successful person out there. But it does mean that you're going to live with integrity.'' On the topic of ethics, there's also a provocative piece in this issue by writer Miriam Rozen on planners rebounding from sanctions.
On the financial planning campus, there's quite a lot going on.