Imagine the financial planning profession in the year 2030, assuming that a lot of good things happen between now and then. In those happy future days, financial planning is a discrete regulated profession, apart from the regulation of investment advice. For registered financial planners, the SEC has developed a reformed, less-intrusive inspection process, and the regulatory slack is taken up by rigorous peer-review processes established and managed by the profession itself.

In that future day, there is a clear demarcation between the standards of professional financial planners and others who have called themselves financial planners (insurance agents, wirehouse brokers, etc.). Most importantly, by regulation, those other professionals are not allowed to refer to themselves as financial planners. The professional standards of practice include a strong definition of a fiduciary relationship.

All financial planners are credentialed, and all new entrants to the profession have received a financial planning degree at the university level. The core university curriculum has been expanded to 10 courses, and the current hodgepodge (certificates in financial planning, degrees in finance with an emphasis in financial planning, etc.) has been normalized into financial planning majors and degrees. Moreover, the problem of having the CFP Board-certified financial planning programs confusingly housed in a variety of college departments (finance, economics, family and consumer sciences, etc.), has been solved. The universities – including many of the “top 40” – will have their own discrete colleges of financial planning on campus.

While we’re imagining the year 2030, let’s include specialized versions of the CFP credential, similar to board certifications in the medical field. So there can be CFP general practitioners, but CPA/PFS advisors would become CFPs with a specialization in tax planning, while CFA charter members would become CFPs with a specialization in investment analysis. Members of the Investments and Wealth Institute who hold the CIMA mark could be CFPs with a specialization in portfolio management.

With the adoption of these specialties, the CFP Board has entered into a broad and powerful coalition with the AICPA, CFA Institute and the IWI, speaking with one strong voice on regulatory and legislative issues. Meanwhile, there are CFP advisors elected to Congress, and Congressional staffs seek the input of financial planners and their lobbyists on tax and financial issues when they consider legislation that would affect consumers.