Financial planning professions are changing rapidly to meet clients’ shifting needs and to weather the impact of new technology

That’s why the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards has released a second edition of its Financial Planning Competency Handbook only two years after the first edition was published.

“We are a very young, new profession, but we are also certainly a developing academic discipline,” says Charles Chaffin, the CFP Board’s director of academic programs and initiatives. “We are working to build a body of knowledge, but because we are so young, we haven’t developed much theory to this point. As the discipline grows, new editions will be necessary to reflect the changes.”

The fully updated second edition, edited by Chaffin, is a meaty 944-page, 88-chapter volume, significantly expanded from the 735-page first edition.

The first section contains chapters concentrating on each of the CFP Board’s 72 topic areas, which are organized into eight principal categories: Professional Conduct and Regulation, General Financial Planning Principles, Education Planning, Risk Management and Insurance Planning, Investment Planning, Tax Planning, Retirement Savings and Income Planning, and Estate Planning.

Each topic area follows a uniform structure comprised of a content diagram, introduction, and overview, a student-centered learning objective, and an instructional resource. All chapters also contain a section of professional practice capabilities outlining what a planner should be able to do based on experience level, along with vignettes illustrating how a concept can be applied.

“We talk about theory in each area and then relate it back to practice,” Chaffin says. “I really didn’t want theory and practice to be binary, I wanted them to be connected.”

The second section is comprised of a detailed case that runs through each part of the financial planning process.

A new third section explores the interdisciplinary nature of financial planning, incorporating fields like psychology, behavioral finance, communication, marriage and family therapy.

“I heard from both faculty and practitioners that decision-making theory and other disciplines are having an impact on planning, and that it would be helpful to bring these disciplines under our umbrella,” Chaffin says. “The profession is certainly evolving, and this edition is more forward thinking than the first.”

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