From February 19th through February 21st, the CFP Board’s Center for Financial Planning hosted their third annual Academic Research Colloquium (ARC) for Financial Planning and Related Disciplines in Arlington, VA. This year's event saw a 20% increase in attendance, bringing together roughly 230 attendees, of which about 35 were practitioners, to share and discuss research relevant to the financial planning profession, as a part of the CFP Board Center’s longer-term goal of establishing itself as the “academic home” for the financial planning profession.
In this post, Derek Tharp – lead researcher at Kitces.com, and an assistant professor of finance at the University of Southern Maine – provides a recap of the 2019 CFP Academic Research Colloquium, and highlights a few particular research studies with relevant takeaways for financial planning practitioners.
The 2019 CFP Academic Research Colloquium again had a strong showing from CFP Board-Registered Ph.D. programs, with scholars from Missouri, Texas Tech, Georgia, and Kansas State producing nearly 32% of all research (when weighted by type of presentation and authorship rank). Additionally, Ohio State, Alabama, and the College for Financial Planning contributed another 13% of total research. Despite the concentration among top programs, the ARC remains an academically diverse event, drawing in scholars from a total of 69 institutions, including Harvard, Wharton, and Stanford.
The colloquium featured a wide breadth of topics. Some particularly relevant themes for financial planning practitioners included a number of studies on financial psychology of both clients and practitioners, including measuring brain activity during financial conversations to determine whether planning or emotional areas of the brain were activated during financial conversations, examining the tools that do (and do not) work for measuring risk-taking behavior, assessing perceptions of success and satisfaction among female advisors, and identifying gaps between perceptions of both financial planning graduates and employers regarding student preparedness for a career in financial planning. In addition, there was research on the impact advisors may have on clients- both good and bad - including differences in financial decision-making among households that use a financial planner versus a transactional advisor, the use of municipal bonds among advisor-assisted investors, and the characteristics of those who report being victims of investment fraud.
Overall, the third Academic Research Colloquium again brought together a strong mix of academics and practitioners to present and discuss financial planning research. However, some considerable challenges and opportunities going forward include continuing to develop Financial Planning Review into a high-impact journal, dealing with (potentially) declining institutional and sponsorship support, and the Center’s general push to continue to establish the ARC as the “academic home” of financial planning. Only time will tell if the Center for Financial Planning will be successful in their pursuit, but the ARC continues to be a conference worthy of attending for both academics and practitioners who wish to engage in academic research.