CFP Board, with TD Ameritrade's backing, launches Center for Financial Planning

The non-profit organization behind the CFP designation is debuting a center to promote greater diversity in the industry and build a body of academic research

Nov 18, 2015 @ 8:00 am

By Greg Iacurci

The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. Wednesday announced the launch of a new center designed to support workforce development among advisers and financial planners and foster research by academics and practitioners in the financial planning field.

TD Ameritrade Institutional is the lead founding sponsor of the new Center for Financial Planning, with a multimillion-dollar commitment over a five-year period to support the project, according to Kate Healy, TD's managing director of institutional marketing, who declined to disclose a specific sponsorship figure.

CFP Board executives indicated they envision the center as a long-term resource, and TD could continue its commitment beyond the initial five-year time frame. They also said firms other than TD would be invited to support the center.

“As we look at how the profession continues to grow, CFP Board sees a need for a more diverse and sustainable supply of financial advisers and financial planners,” said CFP Board CEO Kevin Keller. “We see the center for financial planning as a way to address that shortage and that need that exists.”

The center's workforce development component will focus in part on trying to turn the current population of advisers into a group that more accurately reflects the demographics of American society. Citing Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, Mr. Keller said African Americans and Hispanics only make up 8.1% and 7.1%, respectively, of the adviser population.

Further, women only make up 23% of CFP professionals, according to the CFP Board. And of the 73,000 CFP professionals in existence, more are over 70 years old than below 30 years old, Mr. Keller added. “We see that as a problem,” he said.

The new center would also seek to create an “academic home” that consists in part of a new academic journal devoted to empirical-research articles on traditional financial planning themes and other subjects that impact financial planning, such as behavioral finance, sociology, psychology and communications, Mr. Keller said.

“It's not going to be research that sits on the shelf and gathers dust. It'll be research that points directly to strategic initiatives,” said Marilyn Mohrman-Gillis, managing director of public policy and communications at CFP Board.

CFP Board will hold a “design summit” at the beginning of 2016, bringing together parties such as advisers, advisory firms, economists and business school representatives to help hone the center's structure and programs. An advisory council will be formed soon thereafter, which will provide advice to the CEO on the center's direction, according to Ms. Mohrman-Gillis.

The center will reside within the structure of the CFP Board, encompassing a development committee for fund-raising, an advisory council for program direction and an advisory council to direct specific initiatives such as those around racial diversity.

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