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Report: Financial planning degree programs popular at universities

ESL Students

By Andrew Moran

With Baby Boomers on the verge of retiring en masse and the financial situations of millions of Americans in question because of the financial crisis a few years ago, there is one field of study that is becoming increasingly popular: financial planning.

It was reported by CNBC on Tuesday that there is a growing shortage of financial planners and that the current number of professionals is inadequate to meet the demand of consumers seeking financial services and assistance. It is estimated that there will be a shortfall of approximately 200,000 financial advisers over the course of the next decade.

graduatioTo meet the demand, more colleges and universities are boosting the number of financial planning programs that they offer. According to the report, the total number of colleges and universities providing undergraduate degrees in this area jumped from 90 to 124 in the past four years – 48 institutions are now offering a master’s degree and five are marketing a doctorate program.

At the present time, an additional 52 financial planning degree programs are being developed.

Besides meeting the market demand, students are also requesting their schools offer a major that will spur employment opportunities once they graduate from a post-secondary institution, an important issue for youth and college graduates, particularly over the past eight years.

“I’m amazed at how fast it’s moving. We’ve seen very strong growth. It’s clear that university administrations and faculty at institutions who wouldn’t have embraced the idea five or 10 years ago are now open to it,” Charles Chaffin, a Ph.D. and director of academic programs and initiatives at the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, told the business news outlet.

According to Lukas Dean, an associate professor at William Paterson University, a typical graduate in financial planning has between four and five job offers from employers as soon as they exit the study halls. “Our students and graduates are having paid internships and job offers rained on them,” Dean said.

This is understandable considering that there are only an annual 1,000 financial planning graduates.

A report published by IBIS World found that the financial planning industry is valued at $33 billion and is expected to grow by four percent this year. The sector employs approximately 266,000 workers and there are close to 150,000 financial planning businesses in the United States today.

What many would find interesting is that there is a growing need for financial planning and yet there are calls for heightened financial literacy among youth in elementary and secondary institutions.

We reported this that the Pew Research Center discovered that many states across the country are lagging personal finance, while a study in Canada concluded that high school students Great White North are falling behind in financial literacy when compared to other countries.

“If you look at high school students, there’s some basic numeracy that’s critical and it’s not just the numeracy of being able to do certain math equations. It’s an actual applied numeracy,” said Tom Hamza, president of the Investor Education Fund (IEF), in an interview with CBC News. “It’s not about creating a generation of investment bankers. It’s about having people able to understand what the major hurdles are in their financial lives – the basics of credit and debt and telephone bills and that sort of thing all the way to long-term expectations.”

Financial experts concur that universities and colleges will only be a part of the solution because the industry will need to attain the best and brightest to offer financial advice and education to consumers.

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