It's no secret that the financial planning profession's biggest challenge is developing a steady stream of new advisors to replace the first generation of CFP licensees who built the business over the past four decades.

Recently, the CFP Board of Standards' Center For Financial Planning convened a design summit in Washington, D.C., to solicit input on how to attract younger advisors with a particular emphasis on women and minorities. The effort, spearheaded by the Center's executive director, Marilyn Mohrman-Gillis, was a topic of discussion at this year's TD
Ameritrade Institutional conference in Orlando.

One of the early conclusions of the group is that young people "can't be what they can't see." In other words, the financial planning profession’s low profile on college campuses means many students don’t even know it exists.

To help rectify this, the CFP Board recently created a career center with 1,200 financial planning firms looking for college graduates. But few universities currently hold job fairs for students interested in becoming advisors.

Mohrman-Gillis said the CFP Board believes more students would discover the profession if universities were to transfer their financial planning departments––often housed within their agricultural economics departments––into their business schools.

It is also conducting research into what barriers to entry are prompting so few women and minorities to explore possible careers in the profession so it can tailor its messages accordingly.

In addition to lack of awareness, several misconceptions exist. For example, in the industry’s early days most entry-level jobs entailed selling financial products, particularly insurance. But that has changed.

Opportunities at big RIA firms are increasing, according to TD Ameritrade Institutional's managing director of marketing, Kate Healy. Two-thirds of RIA firms with $5 million in revenues have at least one next-generation advisor, and the number of young advisors rises in proportion to the firm's size beyond the $5 million revenue mark.

Firms participating in the design summit include TD Ameritrade Institutional, Edelman Financial, Northwestern Mutual,, Fidelity, Merrill Lynch and Charles Schwab.