The financial planning profession needs more people with a wider range of knowledge than in the past, according to two academic leaders at Kansas State University.

The profession is evolving and courses to help students keep up with the changes are growing at universities across the country, including Kansas State, one of the leading financial planning educational centers, says L. Ann Coulson, a certified financial planner and assistant professor of financial planning at the university in Manhattan, Kan.

A recent addition to the K-State curriculum is the graduate Financial Therapy certificate program. Added a little more than a year ago, the course is a mix of financial planning and psychology, says Kristy Archuleta, who helped create the program and teaches its Money and Relationships segment.

The course also includes the psychology of money, theory and research on financial therapy, and applied behavioral finance. The program is designed to allow advisors to deal more holistically with clients.

“A financial planner becomes a trusted advisor for many people, which means the financial advisor may be the first to see behavioral issues or relationship problems. Clients are talking to the advisor about one of their most intimate issues: their money,” Archuleta says. “Advisors are realizing the profession is not all about the money anymore.”

Most of the students who are working on the Financial Therapy certificate are advisors with years of experience in the field. If an advisor does not want to deal with family and personal issues, he or she should at least be able to recognize problems and have a network of experts to refer clients to, Archuleta says.

She predicts the area of financial therapy will continue to expand in the next few years and become a master’s or doctoral degree and that it will be added to courses at other universities.

Her colleague, Coulson, would also like to see more universities add financial planning departments and doctoral degrees.

“We still have a lot of room for growth. Students coming into college often do not know this is a career choice. Women, in particular, are interested in careers that help people and they need to know financial planning is a way to help and is a career that pays well,” Coulson says. “We have numerous opportunities to place our graduates in jobs. They do not realize how lucky they are.”

Coulson agrees, saying the skill set needed for the profession has changed. “We help round out the students so they know more than just the numbers,” she says.