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Extra credit assignment? CFP Board raises financial planning's academic standing

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ARLINGTON, Va. ― The financial planning profession's standing in universities is getting a boost from the CFP Board.

To bridge the gap between academic research and practice, the board's Center for Financial Planning is partnering with publisher John Wiley & Sons to produce a peer-reviewed academic journal, Financial Planning Review.

"Research about consumer financial decision-making can be enriched with professionals out in the trenches dealing with clients for years," said Charles Chaffin, the center's director of academic home and the Review's executive editor. "We see financial planning as a collection of sub disciplines."

The first quarterly issue, which will be released later this year, builds on the CFP Board's other efforts to promote financial planning as a profession.

The journal will represent "an interdisciplinary approach to financial planning," said Chaffin, speaking at the CFP Board's Academic Research Colloquium. Chaffin was joined by three university professors who also serve as co-editors of Financial Planning Review.

The journal's primary focus will be on financial planning, but it will also delve into decision-making, therapy, human sciences, regulation and technology "with an eye towards again, an impact in academics, but also working on what is practical [and makes] a difference in the real world," said Chris Geczy, co-editor of the Review and a professor at the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania.

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The journal's debut comes at a time where relevant research is happening not only within financial programs but across other academic areas as well, notably economics.

"Fifty to 60% of newly minted PhDs in economics applying to Cornell are focused on household finance," said Vicki Bogan, associate professor at the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University and co-editor of the Review. "It just underscores what I've thought all along and what I've been very passionate about. Studying household finance and investment decision-making is one of the most important and the hottest new research areas."

While it will furnish academics with new opportunities to publish research, the journal will also provide "an exposure to financial planning that hasn't been there," said John Grable, a professor at the CFP Board-registered financial planning program at University of Georgia. Grable previously served as co-founding editor for two other academic journals, the Journal of Personal Finance and the Journal of Financial Therapy.

In the past four to five years, financial planning has moved from an emergent profession to a respected field of study, Grable said.

"In my own department there are colleagues that are doing really good work, but I have to search for it in a journal that's not related to financial planning," Grable said. "If I can get everyone in this room to start publishing in our community it'll be a huge driver for financial planning and [its] academic study."

Submissions to the journal will go through a double-blind peer review. Academically supported quantitative and qualitative methodological research is welcomed, editors say.

Submissions will receive feedback whether they are accepted or not, Bogan said. And reviewers will be compensated to ensure timely and quality feedback. The CFP Board's involvement will be primarily to support the editing process, ensure "the trains are leaving on time" and that it is "consistent with aims we set," Chaffin said.

Six other journals were represented at the Colloquium, Chaffin said, and they hope to collaborate in the future.

"We believe our interdisciplinary approach, bringing even clinical and cognitive approaches to financial planning is bringing more papers to our profession," he said. "We see it as a collaborative process and we're all on the same page in working together."

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