The traditional role of a financial advisor is to provide financial planning services to their clients, or at least to support the financial planning process in an advisory firm. However, with the growing number of programs that provide the educational foundation required by the CFP Board for rising certificants to earn their CFP designations, there is an increasing demand for qualified teachers of financial planning. This growing opportunity has appealed to many advisors – not only has it offered new career options for financial planning professionals as an alternative to client-facing work, it can also be a unique marketing opportunity that increases the credibility of an advisor as a well-qualified financial planning expert in their work with clients, and gives firms an opportunity to see first-hand the top students in a local program that might be future hires (at least within the limits of what university conflicts-of-interest policies will allow for their instructors).
However, there are many different types of teaching roles that a financial advisor can consider. A position as a part-time instructor may make the most sense for advisors who want to continue serving financial planning clients. Compensation typically ranges from $3,000 to $7,000 per semester course, though part-time instructors at the undergraduate level are generally required to have earned a Master’s degree in a related field in order to get the paid teaching opportunity. For those who are interested, aside from the time commitment of actually teaching courses (which typically involves approximately 45 hours per semester per course), advisors should be aware of the time commitment involved in preparing for the course (for the first-time instructor, this can involve several hours per lecture given). Accordingly, given the relatively low salary range and high time commitment, financial advisors who choose to teach in these roles generally do so out of a love for teaching and as a way to give back to the industry by helping to prepare new advisors.
Full-Time instructors, on the other hand, tend to have a regular assignment of courses with some certainty of when and which subjects will be offered throughout the year. The job security of a full-time instructor is much more stable than that of a part-time instructor and, for non-tenure track positions (i.e., less permanent appointments with little or no research commitments), annual compensation levels generally start in the $50,000 to $80,000 range. However, full-time positions will make it more difficult for an advisor to continue working outside the classroom (though it may still be possible); thus, advisors will typically need to be willing to give up work in their financial planning practices, and should be prepared for an academic career (and academic compensation levels). In addition, advisors again will generally be required to have earned a Master’s degree and have some relevant professional experience for a full-time instructor role.
Individuals interested in pursuing tenure-track professor roles will find opportunities at research and/or teaching universities with financial planning PhD programs (and occasionally PhD programs in other fields, such as Family and Consumer Sciences), though the requirements to qualify for an appointment are much more stringent than for other types of teaching roles. New “assistant professors” can expect starting salaries to range widely from $60,000 to $130,000. While maintaining a financial planning practice may be very difficult for a tenure-track professor because of the work involved in both teaching and research, advisors can find ways to stay connected to their firm, potentially through occasional ad hoc planning work, relying on other firm partners, or by outsourcing work to others.
For those in a tenure-track position, earning tenure involves a long process unto itself, but their positions become very secure as tenured faculty positions are permanent, lifetime appointments (where it’s very difficult to get fired short of very substantive failures to do the core job). However, research universities will generally require a significant amount of research to be done by their faculty in a tenured professor role. For example, some popular CFP Board Registered PhD programs expect their faculty to publish an annual average of three articles in peer-reviewed academic journals every year, though the actual expectation varies greatly and can be gauged by determining what tenured professors published during their own probationary (tenure-track) period. In addition to research requirements, some institutions (e.g., those that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, or ACBSP) require individuals to have 15 finance graduate credits in order to teach in their programs, though other institutions (accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Businesses, or AACSB) don’t necessarily share this 15-credit requirement, but may have their own standards (which vary by institution, and could still include a 15-credit requirement) that define requirements for teaching eligibility.
Ultimately, the key point is that there are many financial planning teaching opportunities, some of which have relatively low education and experience requirements that can be managed by a financial advisor without having to give up their practice of financial planning itself. On the other hand, for those who actually wish to pursue a financial-planning-based career in academia on a full-time basis, there are also growing opportunities for full-time instructors and even tenure-track faculty positions at a research university. Regardless of the role, though, teaching opportunities in the financial planning field can serve as a great way for advisors to enhance their current job roles (or even switch careers altogether!) and to contribute to the profession by supporting the education of aspiring financial planners!