CFP Board of Standards CEO Kevin Keller speaking at the Board's 2014 Women's Initiative (WIN) conference.

Last November, the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards announced the launch of an ambitious initiative, the Center for Financial Planning, with initial financial support from TD Ameritrade. Board CEO Kevin Keller said in an interview then that the Board was worried about “workforce development” and a lack of diversity in the current CFP population, and sitting as it does “at the crossroads” of the “supply and demand” dynamics of the profession, the Center constituted the Board’s response to the profession’s human capital issue.

In January, the Board named its managing director for public policy and communications, Marilyn Mohrman-Gillis, as executive director of the Center. In an interview Tuesday at ThinkAdvisor’s New York offices, Keller and Mohrman-Gillis provided an update on the Center, clarifying its goals and reporting on the deliberations of a Design Summit it held in January that included 42 guests who are advisor industry household names.

That Summit, held in Washington Jan. 14, was attended by such luminaries as Mark Tibergien, Kate Healy, Roy Diliberto, Blaine Aikin, David Canter, Tim Kochis and Janet Stanzak, in addition to Center leaders Bob Glovsky, Eleanor Blayney, Keller and Mohrman-Gillis (who was named to Investment Advisor’s IA 25 for 2016).

The Center’s agenda for 2016-2017 was “informed and guided” by its Advisory Council, headed by noted planner Glovsky, with “impetus” from Summit attendees, Mohrman-Gillis said. The Board recognized as early as 2009, Mohrman-Gillis said, that there were “systemic problems” within the profession’s membership makeup, and decided to address the “systemic cultural biases” that have led to a paucity within the CFP ranks of women, people of color and younger people, and the need to address the “shortage of tenure-track professors” teaching financial planning, specifically in business schools, at major research universities.

Thus the Center’s three-pronged focus on addressing the planner diversity issue, work force development — bringing more people, and younger people into the profession — and building an “academic home” for the profession. That focus is being supported by five CFP Board staffers, Keller said.

On diversity, since “you can’t be what you can’t see,” in Mohrman-Gillis’ words, Keller said the Center has already enlisted over 100 CFPs to be mentors. Hoping to replicate its Women’s Initiative’s (WIN) “seminal research” from 2014 on how to attract and retain more women as planners, the Center plans to hold a racial diversity summit in 2017 to find specific prescriptions to build more diversity among CFP certificants.

Since women in the work force often “can get off track” in their careers due to family care issues, they “need encouragement,” Mohrman-Gillis said, to get back into the work force and stay there. Noting that only 23% of CFPs are women, increasing that percentage is behind the Center’s WIN-to-WIN “women mentoring women” program, announced earlier this month.

Turning to work force development, the Center plans to launch a pilot “relaunch” program to encourage women and younger people to enter the profession. The Center will conduct research on “what are the best practices” to entice younger people into the profession, Mohrman-Gillis said, including the right way to run internship programs.

As for building an academic home, that part of the Center was launched in 2012, has a director, Charles Chaffin, Ed.D., and a goal — to promote academic research on financial planning topics to “build the financial planning body of knowledge,” Mohrman-Gillis said, and to publish research.

“We feel a strong need to expose the art of financial planning to the rigor of scientific research,” said Keller. He said there’s a “shortage of tenure-track professors who can be recognized in business schools” at top-tier R1 universities, rather than some financial programs that are housed in agricultural schools or family and consumer sciences (FCS) schools, formerly known as ‘home economics’ schools. “The future of financial planning programs is in the business schools.”

The Center will convene what it calls the first-ever global Academic Research Colloquium for Financial Planning and Related Disciplines, in Arlington, Virginia on Feb. 7-9, 2017, bringing together researchers, graduate students and leaders of financial planning practices.

“Our vision for the colloquium is to create a platform for the presentation and discussion of theoretical and applied research from a broad range of disciplines and sub-disciplines that connect to financial planning practice,” said Chaffin in a prepared statement.

Finally, starting next year the Center will also begin publishing a peer-reviewed research journal — in print and online — to provide financial planning academics with a forum in which to publish their research.

As a sign of industry support for the Center’s initiatives, Mohrman-Gillis said she had had “100%” buy-in from its distinguished Summit attendees to support the Center’s programs personally. As to the ambitions of the Center, she said “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

— Check out New CFP Mentorship Program Addresses the Lack of Women in the Industry on ThinkAdvisor.