Financial planning has long witnessed an unfortunate “gap” between practitioners and academia. As the stereotype goes, the practitioner community to too focused on strategies, techniques, and application, while the academic community spends too much of its time on research that is too basic or too abstract. Well, at the Academy of Financial Services meeting held in conjunction with the FPA’s annual convention, that gap appears to be narrowing, quickly.
The Academy of Financial Services – or AFS – has a mission to both support research in financial planning and the development of university curricula, and to encourage interaction between practitioners and academicians. They publish Financial Services Review, a quarterly journal showcasing the latest in theoretical and empirical research in financial planning. And they host an annual meeting – for the past two years, held in conjunction with FPA’s Annual Convention to offer a better opportunity for interaction between practitioners and academicians - providing an opportunity for the latest research to be presented in a live format.
Notwithstanding the typical criticism that academic research is too basic or abstract to be relevant to financial planning practitioners, in my experience at the AFS meeting, I found the opposite to be true. Perhaps it is just the nerd in me, but I actually found myself more torn in choosing which sessions to attend at this meeting than any other conference I have attended all year! Yes, it is true that there is still an academic research angle here – I don’t think practitioners will necessarily leave each session brimming full of ideas about immediate changes they should make in their practices. Nonetheless, take a look at some of the sessions titles below, and see what you think…
“Mutual Fund Tax Efficiency and Investment Selection” by DK Malhotra and Martin Rand of Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, and C. Andrew Lafond
“Retirement Portfolio and Variable Annuity with Guaranteed Minimum Withdrawal Benefits” by Antonio Morello of Nationwide Financial
“Three Strategies to Motivate People to Invest for Retirement” by Jean Lown and Sharadee Allred of Utah State University
“The Effect of Hyperinflation on TIPS and Bonds” by Frank Laatsch of the University of Southern Mississippi
“Tax and Dividend Clientele Changes Resulting from the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003” by Daniel Myers and Michael Finke of Texas Tech University
“Sequence Risk: Managing Retiree Exposure to Sequence Risk Through Probability of failure Based Decision Rules” by Larry Frank Sr. of Better Financial Education, Joachim Klement of Wellershoff & Partners Ltd., and John Mitchell of Central Michigan University
“Beyond Risk Tolerance: Regret, Overconfidence, and Other Investor Propensities” by Carrie Pan of Santa Clara University
Personally, I think that’s quite a list of content. Oh, and by the way – that is less than half of the sessions that were available, just in the first 90 minute time slot of the conference! I’m sure you can understand why I felt so torn, as most of these sessions were in direct conflict with each other, spread amongst four tracks in the first 90 minutes of the conference... which lasted in total for two days!
Unfortunately, looking around the room at the AFS event, most of the attendees appear to be academicians; there were very few practitioners. So while I think the AFS conference hit the mark on content, the integration and interaction with practitioners still has some room to grow.
This year’s AFS conference may be over, but I hope you’ll consider attending next year. It’s the best opportunity you’ll have to see some of the cutting edge of financial planning research - delivered right to your FPA national conference doorstep!