With the total number of financial advisors continuing to decline year after year, the industry is increasingly focusing on what it takes to attract and retain new financial advisors, with a strong focus on career track opportunities and how to improve retention. However, new research from the CFP Board reveals that the real blocking point to growing the ranks of financial planners is simply that too few young people even know that financial planning exists in the first place! In other words, our struggles to grow are first and foremost a simple issue of awareness… or lack thereof!
In this week’s #OfficeHours with @MichaelKitces, my Tuesday 1PM EST broadcast via Periscope, we chat with Kevin Keller, CEO of the CFP Board, at the Center for Financial Planning’s new Academic Research Colloquium, about the challenges of financial planning awareness, new initiatives from the CFP Board, and what individual financial planners can do to help.
Because despite the fact that financial planning is a very lucrative career – especially when compared to the median household income in the US – the research shows that most young people are skipping financial planning as a prospective college major because they simply don’t know that the opportunity exists! As a result, even generalized public awareness campaigning, such as the CFP Board’s “DJ ad”, have actually been successful at attracting people to download the “Guide to Certification” and check out financial planning as a career.
Fortunately, the needle is beginning to move, as is evidenced by the 1,000 people from baccalaureate programs that sat for the exam this past year (up from 700 the years before). But there is still room for progress. Accordingly, in 2017, the CFP Board will be launching a new “I’m a CFP Pro” initiative – with the aim of increasing both gender and racial diversity by telling the stories of CFP professionals who are women and people of color – in addition to continuing to grow their Women’s Initiative (WIN) and women-to-women mentoring program. Also being launched this year is a new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) offered through Coursera in partnership with the University of Illinois, and a new certificate program with the Columbia University to help train advisors who want to be financial planning educators the necessary skillsets to actually teach the material.
The bottom line, though, is simply to recognize that the biggest problem in bringing new people into the financial planning industry is that many don’t realize the profession exists in the first place. So if you want to have a role in advancing the profession, go back and speak to your alma mater or alumni association and just tell them about what you do as a successful financial planner, and help spread the word. Or alternatively, if you’re connected to the TV industry at all, help us figure out how to launch a new television show that features financial planning or a central character who is a (good) financial planner!