CFP Board reports rise in number of certified financial planners, to 83,106

Organization also saw growth in diverse populations attaining the designation in 2018, but their makeup still greatly lags U.S. demographics

Jan 15, 2019 @ 5:00 pm

By Mark Schoeff Jr.

The number of certified financial planners rose to an all-time high of 83,106 in 2018, and the universe of mark holders also became a little more diverse, according to the organization that grants the designation.

In statistics released Tuesday, the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. showed a growth rate last year of about 3.8% from its certificant pool of 80,035 at the end of 2017.

The board said the number of female CFPs increased to 19,248, which also is a record. But the share of CFP holders who are women remained steady at 23%.

The number of African-American and Latino CFPs was 2,916, an 8% jump over 2017, but still much lower than is represented in the overall U.S. population (at about 3.5% versus 30%).

The CFP Board has made increasing the diversity of those who hold the designation a priority.

The overall growth in CFPs is a good sign for the investment advice profession, said Michael Kitces, director of wealth management at Pinnacle Advisory Group and publisher of the industry blog Nerd's Eye View.

"I view it as a strong testament to the ongoing shift of the advisory industry toward really providing financial advice — which requires advisers to actually get educated with advanced designations that bolster their knowledge beyond the very minimum regulatory requirements of the Series exams" administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc., he wrote in an email.

"While some raise concerns that the financial adviser headcount is shrinking, I view the CFP Board's growing numbers as a sign that the headcount of real financial advisers actually giving advice is still very much growing," he said.

CFP Board chief executive Kevin Keller anticipates more growth for the designation.

"We look forward to seeing even more interest in CFP certification as consumers and firms alike embrace holistic financial planning to produce better outcomes and results," Mr. Keller said in a statement.

The CFP Board sets the educational, experience and ethical standards for the CFP designation.

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