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Survey of Trends in the Financial Planning Industry

The purpose of this study is to provide a snapshot of trends in the financial planning industry through the eyes of CFP® certificants and the graduates of the College for Financial Planning®—a Kaplan company professional designation and graduate degree programs.

About the Survey of Trends

Our survey provides a succinct look at financial practitioners through the eyes of CFFP designation holders and CFP® professionals. This includes:

  1. Demographic information such as age, gender, education, experience, assets under management, etc.
  2. The designations they have earned
  3. Earnings information
  4. Feedback on client concerns
  5. How they foresee the future of the industry

In the 20+ years, we have been publishing the Survey of Trends, at least a few characteristics have remained consistent. A financial certification or professional designation leads to greater earnings and additional clients. Respondents have reported this year after year, and the latest survey was no different. These results will be of interest to corporations and advisors looking for a benchmark for comparison.

Through the eyes of the CFFP Designation holders and CFPR professionals

The finance professionals who responded to our survey were predominantly male and older. Here are the demographics and the reasons why they chose their professions. Here are the basic demographics,including gender, education, whether they were practicing in the field, and age.

  • 74% of the respondents are male. Of the designations that received a significant number of responses, only the FPQP™ deviated significantly from this overall trend. 78% of FPQP™ respondents are female.
  • 57% of respondents have a bachelor’s degree and 40% have a master’s degree. 1% have a Ph.D. or a J.D
  • 96% of respondents say they are practicing financial services professionals. The average respondents have been in the industry for more than 14 years. LUTCF® designees have been in the business for nearly 24 years.
  • The respondents trend older: 28% are over 55 years old, 25% are between the ages of 45 and 55, and 15% are under 30.
  • Respondents reported that the largest keys to their success were their communication skills and referrals from clients.

The Reasons Why

Most of the answers to the question of why they became financial planners or worked in the industry were unique. However, we found a number of patterns, grouped the answers, and came up with these statistics:

  • 39% of the respondents say they joined their finance profession because they wanted to help others and liked working with people.
  • 13% of respondents say they pursued their finance careers because they were interested in personal finance, financial planning, or the industry.
  • 12% say they started in some other aspect of finance or banking and moved into their current role or decided it was a smart career move.
  • 7% of respondents say they were either following in a family member’s footsteps, influenced by a family member or wanted to be part of a family business.
  • 6% of the respondents indicate that they were looking for a career change.
  • 5% say that a job hunt or a desperate need for a job led them to the field.
  • Another 5% say they were looking for a career with flexibility and independence.
  • 4% say that a friend referred them or convinced them to pursue a financial planning position.
  • Another 4% say that their choice of major in college or an internship inspired them to become a financial planner. 
  • Yet another 4% say the earning potential attracted them.

We asked the survey respondents to tell us about the designations they held, when they earned them, whether they helped them acquire more clients, and whether they increased earning potential. Download the full version of the 2020 Survey of Trends.