Americans need financial advice—and more of it — whether they are baby boomers looking to retire, or millennials just starting out in their careers. The use of financial advisers has risen significantly in the last five years from 28 percent in 2010, to 40 percent in 2015, according to a survey by Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.
Yet, at the same time there is a severe shortage of advisors – especially those who can provide the holistic financial planning that Americans want. The increased demand for financial planners comes at the same time the profession is confronting a widening talent gap, limited diversity in the financial planning workforce and insufficient opportunities for academic research to build a recognized body of knowledge to support the profession.
That’s why CFP Board has launched the CFP Board Center for Financial Planning, and why TD Ameritrade Institutional is supporting the Center as the lead founding sponsor, with a five-year multi-million dollar commitment.
The Center is central to the mission of both organizations. For CFP Board, we will deliver on our mission of benefitting the public by having a sustainable, diverse workforce and an academic home for research to support a growing profession. For TD Ameritrade Institutional, the Center will be a vehicle through which TD Ameritrade can work with other industry leaders, educators and practitioners to further demonstrate its commitment to advance workforce development and gender, racial and age diversity within the financial advisory profession.
The Center will work to attract and develop the next generation of financial planning professionals, at a time when the financial planning profession faces the accelerated retirement of its aging planners. Cerulli Associates reports the total number of advisors has declined 12 percent since peaking in 2008, and more than a fifth of advisors plan to retire or leave the profession in the next five to 10 years. And more CFP professionals are over the age of 70 than under the age of 30.
Without research-based initiatives to build a pipeline of qualified professionals, future generations could be without competent and ethical financial advice, just as $30 trillion in wealth is projected to transfer to the millennial generation, according to a 2012 Accenture study.
TD Ameritrade Institutional over the past several years has taken steps to raise awareness among advisors of this demographic challenge, and it has worked to attract younger planners to the profession through its NextGen Financial Planning Scholarship and Grant program. TD Ameritrade also has launched a career exchange for aspiring planners as well as an online network to connect and educate young job seekers.
Now it can expand and build on that work with the Center for Financial Planning, which will generate additional opportunities for ensuring a robust pipeline of advisors far into the future.
Just as we need a younger financial planning workforce capable of serving new generations of consumers, we need professionals who mirror the gender, racial and ethnic diversity of the American people.
According to CFP Board statistics, only 23 percent of CFP professionals are women, a percentage that hasn’t changed for more than a decade, and African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans make up much smaller percentages of CFP professionals. Yet recent research from the BMO Wealth Institute reveals that women control 51 percent of personal wealth in the U.S., and African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans account for more than 13 percent and 17 percent of the U.S. population, respectively.
We need financial professionals who look like and understand these growing populations of financial decision-makers. CFP Board’s Women’s Initiative (WIN) is one component of the Center’s efforts in this area, working to educate women of all ages about the benefits of being a financial planner. The Center will support initiatives identified in its WIN white paper, as well as additional research-based initiatives to improve racial and ethnic diversity in the profession.
The financial planning profession has tried to address the lack of gender and racial diversity within the workforce for decades. However, addressing this challenge requires a broad collaboration of thought leaders – from small and large firms to academia to practitioners – to develop innovative research and large-scale initiatives that yield tangible results. Our success will be measured by our ability to create a workforce that mirrors the public in which it serves.
Developing a younger, more diverse profession won’t be possible without qualified faculty to teach the future leaders of the profession and contribute to the financial planning body of knowledge. Presently, prospective faculty members in financial planning and related disciplines have limited support for conducting and limited venues for publishing empirical academic research.
The Center for Financial Planning will support an academic home for the financial planning profession, which will afford opportunities for conducting, showcasing and publishing peer-reviewed academic research. Increased research will strengthen the body of knowledge for the profession and will allow for greater recognition and acceptance of financial planning programs and their faculty from teaching colleges to some of the nation’s premier research universities.
For years, those in the profession have been talking about these workforce development and educational challenges. The Center now provides an opportunity for firms, academic institutions, educators and practitioners to actually do something.
We believe the Center will serve as the catalyst for all to unite around a shared vision for a younger, more diverse, more qualified and sustainable workforce of financial planners, supported by a well-established and recognized body of knowledge that defines the profession.
Through financial and thought leadership support from firms, educational institutions, educators and practitioners from across financial services, we can build a financial planner workforce for the 21st century and secure the future of the profession for the benefit of the public we serve.
Kevin Keller is CEO of CFP Board. Tom Nally is President of TD Ameritrade Institutional
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