25 Great Schools For Future Financial Planners

The following article appeared in the November 1st, 2012 online edition of Financial Planning Magazine.

California Institute of Finance (CIF) at California Lutheran University (CLU)When thinking about the future of the planning profession, it’s useful to consider the past of another one: dentistry. A century ago, people went to the barber to have their teeth pulled. Thankfully, in the intervening years, an entire profession supported by academic research has emerged to keep people’s teeth healthy.

As it turns out, dental health is intimately connected with overall health. The same concept holds true with personal finances. With only a couple of hundred thousand planners to help the many millions of Americans who need them, there simply isn’t enough expertise to go around – at least not for this generation.

Leaders in the planning profession are working to ensure that financial care keeps pace with professions like dental care for the next generation. Doing so requires the development of a rich and varied academic support system that will educate future planners and inform them with in-depth research. “The key is to establish a recognized body of knowledge,” says Alan Goldfarb, chairman of the CFP Board.

In our latest look at the nation’s leading schools for financial planning, we chart this progress with a snapshot of the evolution of colleges, universities and institutions that teach planning to the swelling ranks of practitioners. It’s a rapidly evolving space: In the past two years, the number of CFP Board-registered undergraduate degree programs has jumped 20%; including graduate and certificate programs, the total is now 336. In addition, there are another 40 new programs in development, according to the CFP Board.

Of those programs already up and running, 176 are certificate programs offered mainly to mid-career professionals; 109 are undergraduate baccalaureate programs filled predominantly by college-age students. Another 45 are master’s programs and, a decade after Texas Tech registered the first Ph.D. program with the board, there are now six doctoral programs. Many bachelor’s and master’s degree programs are taught online or partially online, enabling institutions to reach increasing numbers of students.

“We see all of these programs as partners of ours,” says Charles Chaffin, the CFP Board’s manager of academic programs, whose department reviews the curricula and faculty for each of the programs annually. “We have a vested interest in making sure they are successful.”

In choosing the 25 schools – listed alphabetically by degree and certificate programs, degree programs only and certificate programs only – Financial Planning relied on a group of experts, both planners and academics. Our story is not a ranking – it’s comprised of many of the schools on students’ short lists. It also represents the wide range of ways planners are now learning their trade. Many excellent institutions do not make an appearance – at least not yet.



You can catch a glimpse into the industry’s evolution in the story of one recent graduate: Amanda Lott, who received her bachelor’s degree in planning from Texas Tech in 2008. Four years earlier, she followed a boyfriend to the university, majoring at first in mathematics before switching to psychology. However, neither concentration felt quite right to her. She wondered how to bridge her love of numbers and analysis with her desire to help others.

Despite the fact that Texas Tech runs one of the best-known planning programs in the country – and certainly one of the best-funded – Lott knew nothing about it. Moreover, she had never even heard of the profession. She’s hardly alone.

Awareness of financial planning as a career track, especially in academia, remains so low that many students transfer into it only after entering college. That’s the route Lott followed. As she paged through her university’s catalogue of majors and course offerings over a Christmas break, she stumbled upon a new career.

“I was just thinking how lucky I got,” Lott says. “I followed a boy to Tech. I’m thankful for my teenage heart that I ended up there and that I found my new love, financial planning. I got very lucky that I happened to be in one of the greatest environments to learn about this industry.”

Texas Tech is working to remedy that visibility problem; this fall, the program became only the second financial planning program in the country to be elevated to departmental status.

Meanwhile, Lott already has been promoted from the rank of analyst to financial advisor at RegentAtlantic in Morristown, N.J. Her firm has a clear partnership track that will offer her an equity stake if she continues to perform. It’s a route that, at the age of 25, she says she wants to follow.

“For me, there’s no need to re-create the wheel and start my own practice,” Lott says. “If I can find a firm that shares my own values, I would like to be a part of that for the long term.”

In other words, Lott – who is in the process of earning her master’s in taxation from another school on this year’s list, Fairleigh Dickinson University – is an exemplary new member of the next generation of planners. And it’s worth noting that if she’d gone to Harvard or Stanford or to most other top institutions of higher learning in the country, the profession probably would not have her today.



Lott’s story is striking in another way in that she secured a position right after graduating. Despite the strong need for planners nationally, many new graduates who emerge with planning degrees often leave the profession for higher salaried work in banking or selling insurance.

“There’s a lot of reasons for that,” Goldfarb says. Whether seeking a firm placement or trying to build a client base from scratch, new planners must take initiative to market themselves, something many programs don’t equip them to do. “There is a degree of salesmanship, for want of a better word, involved with it.”

As a result, more institutions need to teach not only real-life planning skills, Goldfarb and others say, but offer real-world apprenticeships for their students.

In part to address this issue, the CFP Board earlier this year issued a list of 220 learning objectives that it wants every program to teach its students. Northwestern University, for one, decided to revamp all of its certificate courses around the new objectives.

“It’s a massive curriculum overhaul,” says Peter Kaye, Northwestern’s dean of undergraduate and professional programs. “We really do want to have an educational program that reflects the skills that people need to do the job well professionally.”



And that points to a related, ongoing debate: Should programs focus on helping students pass the CFP Board’s certifying exam, or provide them with a more well-rounded education as planners? The latter approach typically covers more marketing, communication and people skills.

Different programs tend to take different approaches. Many certificate programs are aimed at mid-career professionals and focus primarily on passing that exam, whereas undergraduate degree programs usually take a more holistic teaching approach. Not that this rule holds everywhere. Northwestern, for one, is seeking to bridge this divide in its certificate-only offerings.

In the future, some experts would like to see certificate programs disappear entirely, and be replaced by degree programs – as is standard in the medical and legal fields. But, with so many working professionals in other industries looking to become planners, that day is not likely to come any time soon.

In the meantime, Lott suggests a goal that the entire profession could surely get behind. “When we get to the point where we have people in grade school saying, ‘Hey I want to be a financial planner,’that [will mean] our industry has arrived,” she says.


American College

Bryn Mawr, Pa.

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): Undergraduate certificate, master’s

Enrollment: 30,000 (mostly online) in all finance courses

Faculty (full-time and adjunct): 19 full-time, 10 adjunct

Student-to-faculty ratio: Not avail.

Tuition: $4,645

FPA student chapter: No

Profile: The American College boasts that it’s the nation’s largest nonprofit educational institution devoted to financial services (although it declined to provide exact enrollment figures). The college also asserts that the number of planners it educates annually is among the highest. As a partner with banks, brokerage firms and insurance companies, it derives much of its student population from these fields. The college also produces educational materials used to teach planners everywhere. As the owner of the ChFC designation, the American College used to promote the designation as the only valid mark for financial planners, although it now promotes the CFP mark as well, according to Alan Goldfarb, chairman of the CFP Board. Two months ago, the college received a $2.5 million grant to establish a new center for ethics as a response to Bernie Madoff’s crimes and other financial scandals. Classes are offered in person and online.



Thousand Oaks, Calif.

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): certificate, MBA

Enrollment: 170 online, 18 in person

Faculty: 4 full-time, 12 expert, 14 adjunct

Student-to-faculty ratio: 20:1

Tuition: For MBA, $745 per credit unit (the MBA consists of 48 credit units, for a total cost of $35,760); for certificate, $550 per credit unit (the certificate consists of 24 credit units, for a total cost of $13,200).

FPA student chapter: No

Profile:Cal Lutheran offers the country’s largest MBA program (by enrollment) with a financial planning focus. This intensive boutique program tends to attract seasoned professional students. More than 80% enroll in the online option, and many already have CFP designations. “The MBA resonates well with a lot of our students’ clients, especially those with closely held businesses,” says Harry Starn, the program’s associate director. Located down the street from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Cal Lutheran has gained praise from directors of other planning programs nationwide for its rigor and immersive teaching. The program graduated 34 students last year. “We do fill a niche,” says the program manager, Cindy Grether, “but I think we are still kind of a big secret out there.” Students can transfer credits for up to five courses taken at many University of California campuses, including Berkeley, Davis and Los Angeles.



Greenwood Village, Colo.

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): M.S. financial planning, personal financial planning certificate, CFP certification program

Enrollment: 30,000 in all programs, including 4,200 in the CFP program and 130 in the master’s in financial planning program

Faculty: 15 full-time, 20 adjunct

Student-to-faculty ratio: For master’s program, 9:1; varies for online courses

Tuition: For M.S. in financial planning, $380 per 1-hour credit; for personal financial planning certificate, $1,140 per 3-hour credit; for CFP certification program, $4,485.

FPA student chapter: No

Profile: The for-profit College of Financial Planning, founded in 1972, occupies a historic position in the profession; it was founded at a time when there were no dedicated programs or teaching materials for financial planning. It now claims one of the largest enrollments of students studying for a degree or certificate in financial planning at any one time: 4,330. It offers an array of distance learning, full-time and certificate programs. Since its inception, the college claims to have produced 65,000 CFPs. Its other programs cover a multitude of planning- related subjects, including retirement planning, portfolio analysis and financial analysis. Recently, the college has integrated e-books and tablet-based instruction into its classes. “We want [students] who truly believe in pursuing financial planning as a profession,” Jim Pasztor, a working planner who is the school’s chairman, has said. The college says 86% of its students who sat for CFP exams in 2011 passed.



Manhattan, Kan.

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): Undergraduate, master’s, Ph.D. and graduate certificate

Enrollment: 40 undergrads, 40 certificate, 40 master’s, 33 Ph.D.s.

Faculty: 5 full-time, 5 adjunct

Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1

Tuition: For an undergraduate (3-credit) course, $805 for a Kansas resident, $2,015 for out-of-state student; for an M.S. course, $1,455; for a Ph.D. course, $1,530; for a graduate certificate, $1,455 per course or $5,828 up front for the entire program.

FPA student chapter: Yes

Profile: Since registering its undergraduate degree program in planning in 1993, Kansas State has added a certificate, a master’s degree and a doctorate to the program. The courses cover a variety of subjects, from financial therapy to client communication. The university seeks out instructors who are leaders in the field. “When we look for adjunct professors, we look for those [with] a specific skill,” combined with teaching ability, says assistant professor Ann Coulson. “Many adjuncts have experience in the field, but it’s another thing to be able to translate that to students.” K-State students put themselves on the map this year by winning the 2012 National Collegiate Financial Planning Championship; they have placed in the top three in seven of the last 11 years of the competition, which is sponsored by the CFP Board, Ameriprise and the FPA. “We’re proud of our students,” Coulson says, “because they work hard and live up to our expectations.”



Columbia, Mo.

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person):2 online (M.S. and certificate, through Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance membership); 7 on site (B.S. in human environmental sciences with an emphasis in personal financial planning, M.S. or Ph.D. in personal financial planning, post-baccalaureate certificate; PFP minor with an agricultural economics B.S., PFP minor with a finance B.S. or B.A, and PFP M.S. with a law degree)

Enrollment: 191

Faculty: 3 full-time, 2 non-tenure track, 3 extension, 1 tenure track opening, 3 adjunct

Student-to-faculty ratio: 48:1 tenure-track faculty, 33:1 including non- regular faculty

Tuition: For an online course, $485 per graduate credit hour (a certificate requires 18 hours and an M.S. requires 42 hours). For classroom courses, Missouri residents seeking an M.S. pay $269.40 per credit hour with $411.34 in other fees; nonresidents seeking an M.S. pay $470.30 per credit hour with $411.34 in fees; for a resident B.S. (14hours per semester) $9,272; for a nonresident B.S., $22,440.

FPA student chapter: Yes

Profile: The University of Missouri is home to the oldest departmental-level financial planning program in the country, but it took a while to get there. In the 1960s, the program was the Department of Family Economics and Management before becoming the College of Home Economics. In 1987, the name changed to the Department of Consumer and Family Economics and, finally, in 2000, the Personal Financial Planning Department, three years after the program was registered with the CFP Board. “It wasn’t that we wanted to be the first one at all, it’s just that I got tired of explaining what we do,” says the department chairman, Rob Weagley, only half-jokingly. The program offers a certificate track and several degree tracks, including a Ph.D. Larger universities resist elevating financial planning to departmental status, Weagley says, because they focus on “pure” or theoretical finance, which is largely divorced from real-world financial needs. “But at programs like ours,” he says, “all we care about is the application. We care about the people.”



San Diego

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): B.S. in financial services with a certificate in personal financial planning; M.S. in financial and tax planning, executive financial planning advanced certificate

Enrollment: 115 in bachelor’s, 16 in master’s, 22 in executive

Faculty (full-time and adjunct): 15 for bachelor’s and master’s programs; 5 for executive

Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1

Tuition: For a California resident seeking a bachelor’s degree, $3,538 per semester; nonresident bachelor’s, $9,118 per semester. For a California resident master’s, $3,952 to $7,567 per semester (depending on course load); nonresident master’s, $6,184 to $12,031 per semester. For an executive certificate, $7,416 for the complete program.

FPA student chapter: Yes

Profile: The oldest, continuously operating financial planning program in the country, San Diego State University’s program resides in the finance department of the business school. That placement was a conscious choice by Tom Warschauer, who founded the program in 1980 and still runs it. Programs in some other universities share space in home economics or even communications departments. SDSU’s new capstone course – which the CFP Board mandated this year for all its registered programs – covers counseling and communication skills as well as financial planning software. “There are at least a half-dozen areas that are important in our program,” Warschauer says. The graduate degrees require rigorous specializations in either wealth management or tax planning, in addition to regular planning courses. The programs were the country’s first to be at a school certified by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, and all courses are for credit. The school said that 32 students sat for CFP exams in 2011 and that 67% of the bachelor’s students passed, along with 80% of the master’s students and 60% of the executive students.



Lubbock, Texas

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): 11, ranging from undergraduate to Ph.D., including minors and dual graduate degrees in financial planning and business or law, and one certificate

Enrollment: 100 PFP undergraduate majors, 60 undergraduate minors (studies in personal finance), 90 PFP master’s students (including dual-degree law, dual-degree MBA, and dual-degree finance majors), and 33 PFP Ph.D. students

Faculty: 12 full-time, 2 adjunct

Student-to-faculty ratio: 16:3 for the PFP major courses

Tuition: Texas-resident undergraduates (12 hours) $3,760 per semester, out-of-state undergraduates $4,471 per semester, Texas-resident graduate students (12 hours) $4,359 per semester, out-of-state graduate students $8,570 per semester.

FPA student chapter: No

Profile: This September, in a historic move, the well-known financial planning program at Texas Tech was elevated to departmental status – alongside finance, physics and philosophy. Texas Tech is just the second college or university to bestow financial planning with this stature, after the University of Missouri. “We had to grow big enough and have enough faculty and enough students to get to departmental status,” says Vickie Hampton, the department’s chairwoman. Yet even this granddaddy of academic financial planning programs lacks visibility. A large percentage of the planning graduates from Texas Tech every year discovered the major only after they were already on campus, studying other subjects. But the school is pushing to raise awareness of financial planning as a profession. The CFP Board gave the university a $2 million, seven-year grant in 2002 to help it send its graduates out to populate other academic programs, and this migration continues. Texas Tech said 19 undergraduates and 19 graduate students took the CFP exams in 2011; 26% of the undergraduates and 51% of the grad students passed.



Wayne, N.J.

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): B.S. in financial planning and an accelerated certificate program

Enrollment: 50 full-time majors, 32 full-time minors; 5 in the certificate program

Faculty: 2 full-time, 9 adjuncts

Student-to-faculty ratio: 25:1

Tuition: For a New Jersey resident $5,847 per year; for an out-of-state resident $9,547

FPA student chapter: Yes

Profile: Now in its fourth year, William Paterson’s full-time undergraduate program enrolls more than 50 full-time students. Among the school’s attractions are its proximity to New York City, and the fact that it resides in a business school accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Besides the bachelor’s degree, the university offers a certificate program for working executives. Another advantage, according to the program’s founder, Lukas Dean, is “that we have added professional sales training into [the] curriculum.” The school said three of its students took the CFP exams in 2011; two passed.





Waco, Texas

CFP Board-registered programs: Bachelor of business administration financial planning major

Enrollment: 20

Faculty (full-time and adjunct): 2

Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1

Tuition: $30,600 a year

FPA student chapter: No

Profile: As part of their core curriculum, undergraduates in planning at Baylor help run one of the largest student-managed investment funds in the country. Valued at about $5.2million, it is managed 60% by graduate students in other majors and 40% by undergraduates, says Tom Potts, director of the financial services and planning program. Proceeds from the funds are used to pay for scholarships and other student needs. The exercise is intended to teach investment management principles and techniques. Although the program doesn’t enroll many students, Potts says, those students are making their mark: One of two Baylor teams that recently entered a financial planning case competition made it to the national finals. The Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of FPA honored one of Baylor’s first graduates with a financial planning major at a banquet last month in Dallas.



Northridge, Calif.

CFP Board-registered programs: B.S. in finance with a sequence in personal financial planning and B.S. in business administration with an option in insurance and financial services and a sequence in personal financial planning

Enrollment: 40

Faculty: 4 full-time, 2 adjuncts

Student-to-faculty ratio: 7:1

Tuition: For California residents $2,247, for out-of-state residents $4,479.

FPA student chapter: No

Profile: In the spring of last year, California State University at Northridge registered its two undergraduate planning programs with the CFP Board, with the aim of improving financial literacy in and around Los Angeles. The administrators hope its students – many of whom are ethnic minorities and the first generation in their families to attend college – will become planners for underserved populations throughout the region. “We are excited to have received the approval from the CFP Board and believe it will be a major resource for students and the surrounding community,” says Monica Hussein, associate director of the school’s Center for Financial Planning & Investment.



Clemson, S.C.

CFP Board-registered programs: B.S. in financial management with a concentration in financial planning

Enrollment: About 20

Faculty: 5 full-time

Student-to-faculty ratio: 4:1

Tuition: For South Carolina residents $21,726, for out-of-state residents $38,370.

FPA student chapter: No

Profile: Clemson’s 18-year-old undergraduate degree in planning is back in operation this year after being out of commission for part of 2010 and all of 2011. The economic downturn created a cash crunch that forced the university to suspend the program. But roughly 20 students have enrolled in financial planning classes this year, according to John Alexander, the program director since 1998. “Thank goodness, we now have a commitment at the administrative level to staff these classes,” says Alexander, a professor of finance who teaches portfolio management, while also serving as chief investment officer for the university’s foundation. The program is rigorous, he says, especially since the advent of the new capstone class, which the CFP Board mandated this year for all of its registered programs. Alexander says Clemson planning graduates are heavily recruited, and often end up working for banks and corporations.



Athens, Ga.

CFP Board-registered programs: B.S. degree 75 students, master’s degree 10 students, Ph.D. 5 students. An online M.S. degree will be offered in 2013.

Faculty: 4 full time, 1 adjunct

Student-to-faculty ratio: 15:1 for undergraduate; 3:1 for graduate

Tuition: Undergraduate $9,842 per academic year, full-time; graduate $3,795 per semester, full-time.

FPA student chapter: Student Financial Planning Association

Profile: Registered with the CFP Board just two years ago, UGA offers in-person degree tracks for undergraduate, master’s and Ph.D. candidates, and next year plans to launch online masters and certificate programs. Director John Grable says he made the difficult decision last year to leave Kansas State’s program for Georgia in part because of the strong administrative support it enjoys. Located in the Housing and Consumer Economics Department, the program teaches students in an intensively interdisciplinary environment that includes pro bono work in the community. Many local couples going through divorces receive free advice from students, not only from the financial planning program, but also from the law school, and finance and accounting departments (for taxes). As a result, Grable says, graduates gain strong technical and interpersonal skills. Last month, UGA students beat out a team from William Paterson University in a retirement knowledge quiz bowl at a national conference. “They blew everyone away,” Grable says. “What’s really impressive is their interpersonal skills and that ability to go out and meet with people.” The school says that 10 undergraduates and 8 graduate students sat for CFP exams in 2011; their pass rates were 80% and 90%, respectively.



Champaign, Ill.

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): 1 undergraduate

Enrollment: 76

Faculty: 30 full-time (in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics)

Student-to-faculty ratio: 18:1 in the classroom

Tuition: For Illinois residents $5,818 per semester, $12,889 per semester for nonresidents

FPA student chapter: Yes

Profile: The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s financial planning program, which launched in 2009, is expanding through extensive new faculty hires. Following the introduction of an FPA student chapter this summer, students also can interact with more working planners by attending networking events and on-campus talks by corporations and professionals in the field. “A lot of new students enter the university wanting to do business, but don’t want to end up spending their professional careers in a cubicle,” says Theresa Miller, an academic advisor for the program. “We are able to attract a good number of these students because we offer the business aspect, along with the interaction with people.”



Baton Rouge, La.

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): B.S. in finance with financial planning specialization is up and running; the school has also registered an M.S. in finance with financial planning specialization and is applying for CFP Board registration of an MBA program.

Enrollment: 25

Faculty (full-time and adjunct): 30

Student-to-faculty ratio: 12:1

Tuition: For Louisiana residents $3,498 per semester, $11,136 per semester for nonresidents.

FPA student chapter: No

Profile: Although it has offered courses in financial literacy for decades, LSU registered its undergraduate and master’s degrees in finance with a specialization in planning just last year with the CFP Board. It next plans to register an MBA with a financial planning specialization. The undergraduate program, which began in January, already has 25 students enrolled, but anticipates a rapid increase in enrollment, says program director Fran Lawrence. “There’s extremely high interest,” she says, adding that she hopes LSU may ultimately add a Ph.D. The fact that the program is located in the finance department of a business school offers a competitive advantage and visibility that benefits the entire planning profession, Lawrence believes. “Some other business schools are small,” she says, “but LSU is known nationwide.”



West Lafayette, Ind.

CFP Board-registered programs: Undergraduate and Ph.D. programs, online program coming soon

Enrollment: More than 300

Faculty: About 15 full-time and 1 adjunct

Student-to-faculty ratio: 20:1

Tuition: For Indiana residents, $20,000 a year, including room and board, food and other expenses; $40,000 a year for nonresidents.

FPA student chapter: No

Profile: Fundamental research into consumer behavior defines Purdue University’s Ph.D. track in planning, which prepares students for academic careers. “We make no apology for it,” says Sugato Chakravarty, head of the department of Consumer Science. “Our masters’ students are trained to be in the corporate world and our Ph.D.s. are trained to be academics.” The university also has a large undergraduate degree program, and now Purdue plans to add a new practitioner-focused online master’s program in financial planning. “The CFP board in Washington is extremely excited about our move to the online master’s program because they feel that, with our academic underpinnings in consumer behavior, our program will stand out,” Chakravarty says. He expects the first class next fall to attract a small class of 40 students and then expand rapidly.



Orem, Utah

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): B.S. in financial planning

Enrollment: 68

Faculty: 2 full-time, 6 from other departments, 2 to 3 adjuncts

Student-to-faculty ratio: 6:1 (including full-time and adjuncts)

Tuition: For Utah residents $2,400 per semester, $6,800 for nonresidents.

FPA student chapter: Yes

Profile: Following the launch last year of its CFP Board-registered financial planning programs, Utah Valley has managed to nearly double it student enrollment. Its inaugural three graduates, set to receive degrees next month, already have full-time job offers, says program director Jacob Sybrowsky, as do most members of the senior class. “We have a number of juniors and even a number of sophomores who are working full-time as well,” he adds. “That’s just great for the students.” The university is working on plans to launch its first online certificate program for roughly 20 to 35 students, to be drawn from the local Provo-Orem and Salt Lake Valley areas, and is discussing whether online students should be required to attend their first classes in person. “We’ve seen a demand for such a program grow,” Sybrowsky says. “It’s coming from mid-profession career changers, banks, wirehouses and a few business-related fields that want to come into financial services.”



Blacksburg, Va.

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): B.S. applied economic management, B.S. finance

Enrollment: 155 combined

Faculty (full-time and adjunct): 6 full-time, 2 adjuncts

Student-to-faculty ratio: 15:1

Tuition: For Virginia residents $4,593 per semester, $11,787 per semester for nonresidents.

FPA student chapter: Yes

Profile: Virginia Tech University offers two full-time bachelor’s programs that are registered with the CFP board. With 70 members, the country’s largest student FPA chapter is very active, organizing speaker forums and inviting industry professionals to campus, says Derek Klock, professor of practice in finance. Recently the chapter launched a series of philanthropic activities, including teaching financial literacy to junior high school students. “The Virginia Tech programs also have a history of doing very well in competition against other schools,” Klock adds. In the past year, the school won the national iOMe (for “I owe me”) Challenge, a national competition offering college students a platform to talk about financial problems and the future. Students also took second place in the National Collegiate Financial Planning Championship held jointly by FPA, Ameriprise and the CFP Board.






CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): 2 certificate programs, 1 online and 1 in person.

Enrollment: 1,250 online, 155 in person

Faculty (full-time and adjunct): 23 adjunct

Student-to-faculty ratio: 22:1

Tuition: $5,295 for an online accelerated program, $3,495 for online self-pace and $7,360 for a classroom program that includes a review/exam preparation course.

FPA student chapter: Yes

Profile: Boston University administrators used to vet prospective students to make sure online learning was for them – but, nearly a decade later, online learning is so common they don’t have to do that anymore, says Ruth Ann Murray, director of the Center for Professional Education at BU’s Metropolitan College. BU’s online courses enrolled close to 1,250 students last year; its in-person classes drew 155 people. BU’s CFP Board-registered programs are approved for credit by the American Council for Education. Bob Glovsky, director emeritus of BU’s financial planning program, who helped the CFP Board write its first exam in 1988, says one day he’d like to see many more degree programs available for planners. But for now, he adds, certificate programs play a critical role in educating would-be planners and building out the profession. “The delivery [mechanism],” Glovsky says, “is a secondary goal.”




CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): 9-credit certificate program offered both online and in person

Enrollment: 150 to 200

Faculty: 13 adjuncts

Student-to-faculty ratio: 15:1 at the downtown campus, 6:1 at the suburban campus

Tuition: $5,400

FPA student chapter: No

Profile: DePaul, the largest Roman Catholic university in North America, launched its nine-credit certificate program in 1999 and relies heavily on a pool of local CFPs to serve as faculty and create customized study materials. “[About] 90% of our faculty are from the industry,” says Dorothy Jagonase, program manager of the university’s Financial Planning Education Center. Students can supplement their in-class work by studying online. According to Jagonase, the school is also proud of its professionally diverse student body, which hails from the brokerage, banking, tax, legal and compliance fields. The school says 50 of its students sat for CFP exams in 2011 and had a 60% pass rate.



Teaneck, N.J.

CFP Board-registered programs: Financial planning certificate course

Enrollment: More than 200 a year

Faculty: About 100 part-time adjuncts in multiple locations

Student-to-faculty ratio: 12:1 in the classroom

Tuition: $5,995

FPA student chapter: No

Profile: Fairleigh Dickinson draws from a large pool of industry professionals as adjunct faculty, teaching courses at multiple locations. (It will introduce one online class next year.) One of the first institutions nationwide to offer a financial planning certificate, FDU’s program dates back 27 years. Students are primarily mid-career professionals already working in the financial planning industry, says Valerie Barnes, the program’s director; she says they receive a substantial amount of focused one-on-one counseling and instruction. For students who want more interaction with faculty, Barnes says, “we provide instant access.” Although the school does not have a student FPA chapter, students work closely with the New Jersey chapter of the FPA.



Location: Gainesville, Fla.

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): 3 in total: online certificate program, in-class certificate aimed at students also completing an undergraduate degree and in-class certificate for master’s or doctoral students

Enrollment: 15 undergraduate, 5 graduate

Faculty: 2 full-time, 1 adjunct

Students-to-faculty ratio: 5:1

Tuition: Undergraduate certificate is $3,000, graduate-level certificate and online certificate are both $9,750

FPA student chapter: Forming

Profile: Registered with the CFP Board just last fall, the University of Florida’s master’s program in financial planning is taught in a virtual classroom that makes use of cutting-edge technology. Recently, Zywave donated NaviPlan, a leading financial planning software, to the school, so students now use this and other tools to learn how to manage personal financial risk efficiently, while being exposed to other areas of planning. “While many other schools teach their students through paper-case studies, we are one of the few schools that connect students with real-life clients as they work toward completion of their capstone,” says associate professor Michael Gutter. “Meanwhile, in the heat of all this, we never lose sight of our mission – which is to develop a strong commitment toward household and family goals.”



Online with classrooms in New York and San Francisco, as well as several private corporate programs

CFP Board-registered programs: 3 in total: Self-paced and accelerated online programs, plus in-person classes at 12 U.S. universities

Enrollment: Not available

Faculty: 7 full-time, 20 adjunct

Student-to-faculty ratio: Not available

Tuition: Accelerated virtual or traditional classroom $5,599, including a review course; self-study $4,043.

FPA student chapter: Kaplan is an institutional member of the FPA

Profile: A big name in education and for-profit test preparation, Kaplan University says it takes pride in the high number of students who take and complete its financial planning courses – but it won’t reveal that number, citing competitive reasons. The 10-year-old program crosses boundaries between traditional classroom and online study, allowing students to customize study tracks to suit their schedules. This means high flexibility for students of all backgrounds. “Of all the things this program offers, we are most proud of our throughput rate, or completion rate,” says school Vice President Joyce Schnur. “[It] is attributed to the flexibility of our program that is sensitive to the needs of our students.”



New York

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): 1 certificate

Enrollment: 729 combined

Faculty (full-time and adjunct): 8 (all adjuncts)

Student-to-faculty ratio: 13:1 in classroom

Tuition: $5,540 for traditional classroom program, $5,650-$7,500 for a “live” online course, $2,495-$4,295 for self-paced online

FPA student chapter: No

Profile: New York University’s certificate program offers students the flexibility to complete coursework in one of three ways – in person with an instructor, live online and led by an instructor or self-paced online. Geared toward professionals and college graduates, the program leverages NYU’s geographic advantage, offering students a great number of opportunities to work with companies in the city.



Chicago and Evanston, Ill.

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): 2 online and 2 classroom certificate programs

Enrollment: Almost 240 online, 90 classroom

Faculty: 20 adjunct

Student-to-faculty ratio: 16:1 overall

Tuition: $5,545-$6,050 for classroom program, $5,600-$7,500 for online live, $2,495-$4,295 for self-paced online program

FPA student chapter: No

Profile: Northwestern’s financial planning certificate program is undergoing a massive overhaul this year. The new curriculum, developed closely with the CFP board, was a “happy accident,” says Peter Kaye, assistant dean of undergraduate and professional programs at Northwestern. The timing of the program’s revamp coincided perfectly with the CFP board’s release of new learning objectives, giving Northwestern the opportunity to reconsider its coursework with the board’s recommendations in mind. As a result, practicality rules at this institution, with the classes designed to simulate a financial planner’s daily life. “We wanted the curriculum structured in such a way that it’s not just a means of preparing for an exam,” Kaye said. “We really want to have an educational program that reflects the skills that people need to do the job well professionally.”



Los Angeles

CFP Board-registered programs: traditional evening/online program and accelerated hybrid

Enrollment: 250 to 300

Faculty: 20 adjunct instructors

Student-to-faculty ratio: 20:1 for traditional evening/online, 15:1 for accelerated hybrid

Tuition: $4,287 to $4,750 for certificates, depending on options; $1,000 for CFP exam review

FPA student chapter: Yes

Profile: Every quarter, the University of California at Los Angeles Extension runs two programs that are CFP Board certified. Its newer program, revamped this year, is a six-course accelerated hybrid track in which students meet monthly for three days of in-person instruction, followed by seven days of online review and testing. “The [accelerated] students have to have three years of experience to enroll, so that is primarily for veteran financial advisors who want to get to the exam more quickly,” says Rich Burnes, the director of UCLA’s financial management programs. “Many of our undergraduate students have at least an undergraduate degree [if not] a master’s degree, so they are not looking for a degree, but they need this body of knowledge.” Burnes says he often refers graduates who want to pursue a degree to Cal Lutheran’s program, which accepts UCLA course credits.

Rethinking Distribution Planning

How well do our models fit actual behavior in retirement?

AgeBander Retirement SoftwareI’ve seen a lot of new research and thinking recently that, taken together, threatens to upend everything we think we know about retirement distribution planning. I think this may be important as more clients march into retirement under the guidance of their financial planner.

At the AICPA Personal Financial Planning conference in January, Jim Shambo, president of Lifetime Planning Concepts of Colorado Springs, Colo. – an out-of-the-box thinker if ever there was one – asked a deceptively simple question. Our Monte Carlo engines assume that clients will spend a certain percentage of
their total retirement portfolio in the first year (4% is the safe harbor amount), and then require that same dollar amount, going forward, for the rest of their days, adjusted for inflation. Analyses by Jon Guyton, a principal of Cornerstone Wealth Advisors in Minneapolis, and others show that we can adjust that safe harbor upward a bit if clients are willing to freeze their spending in down markets and limit their raises.

But what Shambo wondered is this: Is the constant-dollar spending goal an accurate or reasonable assumption?



To find out, he looked at inflation calculations by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and found something interesting: Inflation tends to strike retirees harder than preretirees. Most notably, health care costs are rising faster than the inflation rate.

Beyond that, the CPI calculation factors out cost increases that are attributable to improvements in the goods and services you purchase. A car may cost 4% more
this year than last, but if there are new fancy electronics in the standard model, the government may decide that inflation only counts for a half-percent of the increase. Of course, if you buy the car, you still have to pay the full higher cost. Add it all up, and people aged 65 to 74 appear to be experiencing an inflation rate that is a remarkable 1.11 percentage points a year higher than CPI, and this grows to 2.09 percentage points (a year!) when retirees get past age 75.



A sophisticated retirement spending model, created by California Lutheran University Professor Somnath Basu, combines Shambo’s revised inflation estimates with these revised expenditure figures. Each line item gets its own estimate of higher or lower consumption, and that’s multiplied by an individualized inflation factor.

Health care spending will tend to go up as clients age, and medical costs rise faster than CPI. Food expenditures tend to go down as people age and
food inflation is typically lower than the average, and so forth.

I asked the audience of my Inside Information newsletter what they thought of all this, what their experience has been with retired clients, and how (or whether) this more sophisticated retirement spending model would change their advice to clients. The most common response is that generalizations have to be pushed aside when you’re dealing with an individual client.

When David Jacobs, who practices in Honolulu, estimates a client’s retirement spending, he takes into account such driving factors as the size of the house and maintenance expenses, a habit of providing significant financial assistance to children, a dependent parent, and/or costly activities on the bucket list. This latter line item gets particular attention from Tom Murphy of Temaa Financial, who practices in Dallas. After studying the behavior of his clients closely, he has started planning for a spending blip in the first two years of retirement. That, he says,
is when clients take full advantage of their newfound freedom.

Elyse Foster, of Harbor Financial Group in Boulder, Colo., builds a larger portfolio buffer for what she calls “spendy” clients. Meanwhile, both Neal Van Zutphen of Delta Ventures Financial Counsel in Phoenix and Cindi Conger of Conger Wealth Management in Little Rock, Ark., are pioneering a detailed budget planning service for their clients.

Each expenditure is assigned its own line item and there are projections both for spending increases or decreases and individualized inflation rates. Clients get in the terrific habit of tracking their expenses against the projections before they enter retirement, and are far less likely to get off-track when their paycheck runs out.

At the other end of the spectrum, Pat Raskob, who practices at Raskob Kambourian Financial Advisors in Tucson, Ariz., finds that some retirees who were champion savers in preretirement are unaccustomed to the frivolity of leisure activities. She has to coax
them along, brainstorming fun things for them to do, helping them purchase trips and plan activities with their children as well as their grandchildren.

This suggests new services for planners to offer their clients. Raskob has been called a memory creator because she helps her clients plan activities and family events that they can enjoy recalling over and over again. They need the advisor to help them fully enjoy retirement without the guilt or fear associated with spending.

Others, who have trouble understanding why they can’t safely spend a bigger chunk of their multimillion dollar retirement portfolio, will need advisors like Van Zutphen and Conger to help them track their budgets. Tools like Mint.com are making these services much easier to provide.



Some advisors willing to brainstorm see an easier way to manage the running-out-of-money risks. Vince Schiavi of Schiavi + Dattani in Wilmington, Del., pays particular
attention to a client’s core expenses – those needed for survival – and then trusts clients to adjust their discretionary spending as market circumstances dictate. Kevin Kroskey of True Wealth Design, who practices in Akron, Ohio, uses Mint to identify those core expenses, then uses his own system to estimate how those life-sustaining expenditures will rise over time. He also looks for ways to reduce unpleasant surprises. Getting all debts paid off before retirement, and having both good long-term care and Medigap policies in place are all ways to narrow the range of possibilities.

We still don’t know if data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey data – which covers the spectrum from the impoverished to the ultrawealthy – is a good measure of how financial planning clients will behave as they age in retirement. But there is clear anecdotal evidence that it might be reasonably accurate.

According to Conger’s voluminous spreadsheets, clients spend more on travel and
hobbies in early retirement, and less on clothing and food over time. She reports that, somewhere around age 75, people start spending less on groceries.



Why does any of this matter? Because some of this analysis rebuts the key argument against recommending immediate annuities to clients in retirement.

Most annuities don’t adjust their payments for inflation. But if these core life-sustaining expenditures tend to go down as clients age, rather than rise at or (per Shambo) above the inflation rate, then this is not a problem – and might, in fact, be the simplest way to give clients peace of mind that they won’t be eating dog food in their later years.

Also, if the profession is overestimating those core expenditures in retirement habitually, particularly after age 75, then the standard pre-retirement (Monte Carlo) calculations may be overestimating how much a client needs to accumulate by as much as 25% – a substantial amount.
Once we see a flood of new thinking about an aspect of planning, it’s only a matter of time before we see a major shift in the way the service is provided.

Save on Insurance, Compromise on Privacy

Dick Wagner


The following article appeared in the March 12, 2012 edition of FOX Business online. It was written from a Bankrate.com interview with Dick Wagner (CFP®), a faulty member at the California Institute of Finance at California Lutheran University.


worriedThe high cost of health, life and auto insurance are serious issues in the U.S. Some think there’s hope in “performance-based insurance,” which provides policy rebates or reductions based on whether or not the policyholder meets or exceeds designated performance standards. When measuring performance, however, privacy issues emerge. The use of black boxes to track driver safety for auto insurance and apps that report lifestyle activities, such as diet and exercise routines for health insurance, are a couple of examples. Although advances in technology offer sci-fi-like monitoring capabilities, whether or not they’ll be employed are two different things. In this interview, Richard Weber of the California Institute of Finance at
California Lutheran University discusses performance-based policies, predictive medical tests and just how far consumers are willing to go to save money on insurance.

Performance-based insurance provides policy rebates or reductions based on whether or not policyholders meet or exceed designated performance standards. Do you foresee big business model disruption with a convergence of this technology with market forces, and how will this affect consumers?

I have no doubt that in the next few years, health policies will take into consideration factors such as those who lose weight, stop smoking and pursue a regime of physical activity. I think the question will be whether or not the consumer is sufficiently motivated to make these changes, and that will depend upon what the offered policy rate class looks like to begin with — and whether the individual will receive the benefit of such changes — or if they merely go to the credit of any employer or government program such as href="http://www.foxbusiness.com/topics/entitlement-nation-makers-vs-takers.htm">Medicare. And a key question is — if I’m offered a preferred policy because of new behaviors — what happens if I regress? In life insurance, once I qualify in a “preferred” risk class, I can subsequently begin to smoke, I could begin to overeat, I could get diabetes, I could fail to exercise and the insurance company is obligated to the original rate class determination.

Applying the analogy of accepting a black box in my automobile, the question for health or life insurance would be: If I subjected myself to periodic exams, would I, upon achieving a satisfactory score, receive a reward or perhaps, more applicable, a lower premium?

There are two considerations: One is industry acceptance and the other is the consumer’s inclination and ability to work
the system. I don’t think the 50 states’ Departments of Insurance who regulate this area would readily accept such dramatic changes, since they have generally resisted DNA testing as an underwriting factor. As far as consumers getting what they want, in a sense, that’s already happening in some situations. For example, if I applied for life insurance and I’m offered a standard rating — with the reason I’m not offered a more favorable rating because of my weight and lack of exercise — I can change my lifestyle (lose weight and show physical signs of exercise) and then reapply to that or any other company and presumably get a better rate.

If affordable and accessible DNA tests could predict health factors a person is likely to manifest, those who can show they will have a relatively healthy future could request policy discounts. What barriers to this scenario do you see? What opportunities or challenges should insurance carriers consider?

First of all, I think that in the
current environment, there would be an outcry from consumer advocates that would not allow that to happen.

On the other hand, employers are beginning to provide incentives and penalties for healthy lifestyle decisions. An employer providing health, disability and life insurance might pay a greater proportion of the overall premium for employees who make healthy choices and subsidize a lesser amount — or provide less coverage — for employees who maintain unhealthy lifestyles.

Incentive-based insurance began in the late 1960s when smoker/nonsmoker policy differentiation first took shape in underwriting life, health and disability policies. From there, insurance companies started to differentiate not just standard ratings but preferred, super-preferred and ultra-preferred. Ultra-preferred being, in theory, a status that could only be attained if both your parents are alive and healthy, you have never smoked, you have low body mass and fairly strict ratios of weight and height, and fairly low
blood pressure and cholesterol, among other criteria. In effect, that transformed “standard” to substandard and made ultra-preferred and super-preferred the new norm for what was standard and standard-plus.

While I see more of this occurring in the life and disability types of insurance, I do not foresee any time in the near future that consumers would favor DNA or other objective testing-based criteria in employer-provided health insurance as well as for those receiving Medicare.

The recent health care law is offering states $100 million to reward Medicaid recipients who make an effort to quit smoking or maintain healthy weight, blood pressure or cholesterol levels. We may start to see exercise and wellness apps that demonstrate commitment to healthy living. Additionally, it may become possible to monitor healthy
lifestyles via social media, such as Facebook pages. How likely is it that standard evaluations for life insurance policies, e.g. medical and blood tests, will include blanket requests such as: “May we use available data in your assessment?”

Again, I don’t see DNA being accepted anytime soon. And with the recent backlash on information that social media sites are gathering without the user’s express permission, I don’t think this is going to be accepted in the next 20 years.

What types of technology do you believe people would be willing to adopt on a daily basis to save money on insurance?

I think that the auto insurance industry’s black box is one of the first attempts of that approach. I think safe drivers will likely accept it and less-safe drivers will not. Again,
this differentiates standard and better-than-standard so that people in the middle — who are neutral in the making of rates — are going to wind up paying more than they would have before such a rating system was adopted. And the black box is a good analogy in jumping from auto to life, health, disability and long-term care insurance. The essential issue is what that black box will reveal, and how will the new information be used? It has to be something different than what is currently in your medical records because those records are already part of the underwriting process. Now we are saying that additional information — such as anything a DNA test would reveal — would enter the underwriting process. I think that there is enough media concern, accentuated by movies and books on this very topic, that will postpone, for a long time, that type of data being used for any underwriting.

Special thanks to professor Richard Weber for sharing his insights. The questions for this interview were
inspired from an article published by the futurist Jim Carroll, “Insurance 2020: Bold moves, turning concepts upside down!”

Please visit The California Institute of Finance website to learn more about our MBA in Financial Planning program.

An Open Invitation to CIF Faculty and Alumni

CLUA recent U.S. News article Students Influence Business School Brandsdiscussed the changing landscapes of business school branding. It suggested that social media has taken branding, at least partially, out of the hands of the administration and transferred it to the students, alumni, and professors.

As such, we would like to recruit you to become brand ambassadors for the California Institute of Technology at California Lutheran University. If you are a CIF faculty member, student, or  alumni, we would like to invite you to submit
“guest” blog articles to this blog.

These articles can be original articles, or re-postings of articles that you have already written for your own or company blog. Topics can include your experiences at CIF, the outcome of your time at CIF, where you are now, economic opinions, or anything financial planning.

All authors will be provided room for a brief bio, contact information, and a link back to your website or blog if appropriate.

Please submit all inquiries and articles to Brent@EchelonSEO.com. We look forward to hearing from you and to sharing your great content. Thanks for taking the time to visit our blog.

P.S. You can also find CIF and contribute on:



LinkedIn: California Institute of Finance LinkedIn Group

Steve Vernon: Research Fellow at the California Institute of Finance

The California Institute of Finance is Proud to introduce well known Retirement Expert Steve Vernon as a Research Fellow at CIF. Please check back to the CIF Blog regularly to follow Mr. Vernon’s “Money for Life” Retirement Blog.

Retirement Expert: Steve VernonSteve Vernon integrates two practices with his rest-of-life writing, seminars and workshops, which creates a holistic approach:

  1. 30 years of financial analysis and research as a consulting actuary, including
    two books on retirement issues, and
  1. 13 years studying human potential, including attaining a 3rd degree black belt in aikido.

Steve is President of Rest-of-Life Communications, and a member of the Executive Faculty with the California Institute for Finance at California Lutheran University.

He recently retired as Vice President and Consulting Actuary with the influential human resources consulting firm Watson Wyatt Worldwide.   For over 30 years, he helped Fortune 500 companies design, administer, communicate and fund their retirement, benefits, and rewards programs.  His clients included Agilent, Charles Schwab, Dole Food Company, Harrah’s, Home Savings of America, Hughes Electronics, Lockheed Martin, City of Los Angeles, the Methodist Church, Nordstrom, Northrop Grumman, RAND Corporation, Teledyne Technologies and Times Mirror (publisher of the Los Angeles Times, now part of Tribune, Inc).

He has
published three books with John Wiley & Sons, titled:

  1. Employee Benefits:  Valuation, Analysis and Strategies
  2. Don’t Work Forever!, Simple Steps Baby Boomers Must Take To Ever Retire
  3. Live Long & Prosper!  Invest in Your Happiness, Health and Wealth for Retirement and Beyond

Steve teaches aikido, and holds a third degree black belt.  He graduated from the Nine Gates Mystery School in May, 2005, has taken five courses at Esalen, and has participated in several other body/mind/spirit courses at similar institutions.  He is active with the Institute of Noetic Sciences.

He has delivered over 200 presentations on his books to a variety of audiences.  Also, he has prepared and delivered over 50 training sessions for employee groups on a variety of technical and personal growth topics.

Steve is uniquely qualified to present his original material, by integrating his solid financial
background and firm grasp of personal growth concerns with his teaching and presentation experience.