After giving a ‘sneak preview’ in early 2014, this week the CFP Board formally launched its new Center for Financial Planning, a “virtual entity” within the CFP Board that aims to support the future of the financial planning profession.
Armed with a multi-million-dollar founding sponsorship from TD Ameritade, the Center for Financial Planning will focus on attracting and developing the next generation of financial planning professionals, improve gender and racial/ethnic diversity amongst financial planners, and provide a home for financial planning academics, including the launch of a new Wiley-published academic journal for financial planning researchers to publish and get credit towards tenure.
Yet while these are laudable goals for the CFP Board to pursue, it is notable that the new Center for Financial Planning initiatives move the CFP Board into even further conflict with the FPA, which similarly has its own NexGen effort, its own diversity initiative, its own partnership with the Academy of Financial Services to provide a home to academics, and its own Journal.
In fact, the Center for Financial Planning’s vision to become “the premier resource in the financial planning profession for educators, researchers, practitioners, financial services firms and the public“, combined with the CFP Board’s effort to raise a whopping $10M of capital for the organization in the next five years – far in excess of what it needs to operate its current initiatives – raises the question of whether the CFP Board is seeding the Center of Financial Planning to become a competing membership association against the FPA, just as the FPA’s own market share of CFP certificants continues to sink to record lows.
Given the CFP Board’s long history of its own debacles, arguably in the long run it is better to have a strong and vibrant FPA operating as a membership association outside the CFP Board, and functioning as a check-and-balance to hold the CFP Board accountable. But with FPA facing its own woes as revenues continue to decline, and the potential Department of Labor fiduciary proposals risking a disruption to FPA’s own crucial sponsorship revenues, the CFP Board appears to be positioning itself for the possibility that the FPA may stumble… and perhaps is even trying to compete and hasten the FPA’s demise.