Skip to main content

Comprehensive guide provides guidance on financial planner recruitment,
compensation and advancement decisions

The CFP Board Center for Financial Planning is working to strengthen the financial planner workforce with the publication of Financial Planning Career Paths: Building More Sustainable and Successful Businesses, a new guide to help firms with financial planner recruitment, onboarding, training, career development and retention.

“Firms of all sizes and business models will benefit from these best practices to better engage and develop professionals, and prepare the next generation of financial planners,” said CFP Board Chief Executive Officer Kevin R. Keller, CAE. “This guide is an essential step in advancing the transition of financial planning from an ‘industry’ that delivers products and services to a ‘profession’ that is an integral part of society through improving consumers’ lives.”

The comprehensive workforce development guide, developed with support from the guide’s Signature Sponsor BNY Mellon’s Pershing – a leading provider of clearing and custody solutions – highlights the importance of clear and transparent career advancement to attract and retain the next generation of financial planners and advisors. The guide is designed to help firms structure and effectively communicate career path opportunities. It identifies and closely examines five rungs of the financial planner career ladder:

  • analyst
  • associate advisor
  • service advisor
  • lead advisor
  • partner

The guide elaborates on the requisite skills, experience and responsibilities necessary to achieve each rung. It also provides a framework for compensation and organizational advancement so that professionals can manage their expectations and be well rewarded for their efforts.

Leaders from thirty firms representing different types of businesses that employ and provide careers to financial planners and advisors contributed to the guide, which also incorporates data from various research studies of compensation and career development.

The Center’s Workforce Development Advisory Group provided key input on the development of the guide, under the leadership of Mark Tibergien, Chief Executive Officer of Advisor Solutions at BNY Mellon’s Pershing, a nationally recognized expert in workforce development in the financial planning profession and financial services industry.  The group is composed of experts on talent acquisition and retention, leaders from financial services firms, heads of academic institutions with a CFP Board Registered Program, and CFP® professionals advancing innovative workforce development initiatives.

“Developing clear career paths is crucial to the continued growth and development of the financial planning profession,” said Tibergien. “This publication will be an important resource for employers and a game-changer for the advancement of the financial planner workforce.”  

This publication is aimed at guiding firms in fostering career paths that offer:

  • a systemic plan for skill development
  • a logical progression of responsibilities
  • a sense of fairness across the organization
  • clarity for advancement decisions
  • help with identifying top performers who have leadership potential

Professionals can also utilize the guide as a roadmap for navigating the multifaceted career of a financial planner. The guide provides information on what to expect through each career rung, direction for self-development efforts, and a step-by-step progression of skill development that ensures the right skills are learned at the right time.

“Top firms in the profession are utilizing career paths to secure a lasting competitive advantage and build sustainable organizations,” said CFP Board Center for Financial Planning Executive Director Marilyn Mohrman-Gillis. “They are important frameworks for developing the skills of professionals with various levels of experience so that they can progress in their careers, serve their clients well, and contribute to their firms at the highest level.”

In addition to the support from BNY Mellon’s Pershing, the Center is thankful for the support of the Center’s Lead Founding Sponsor TD Ameritrade Institutional, and Founding Sponsors Northwestern Mutual, Envestnet and Charles Schwab Foundation, in partnership with Schwab Advisor Services.

The CFP Board Center for Financial Planning commissioned The Ensemble Practice LLC to conduct research that captures the experiences and best practices of financial services firms. Thirty firms of all sizes and business models that employ financial advisors were interviewed. The research also examined data from InvestmentNews magazine’s 2017 Adviser Compensation & Staffing Study and 2018 Study of Pricing & Profitability, capturing the compensation and business practices of nearly 400 firms. 


Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. is the professional body for personal financial planners in the U.S. CFP Board sets standards for financial planning and administers the prestigious CFP® certification – one of the most respected certifications in financial services – so that the public has access to and benefits from competent and ethical financial planning. CFP Board, along with its Center for Financial Planning, is committed to increasing the public’s awareness of CFP® certification and access to a diverse, ethical and competent financial planning workforce. Widely recognized by firms and consumer groups as the standard for financial planning, CFP® certification is held by more than 83,000 people in the United States.


Dan Drummond, Director of Communications
Mobile: 202-243-8621

About the CFP Board center for financial planning

The CFP Board Center for Financial Planning seeks to create a more diverse and sustainable financial planning profession so that every American has access to competent and ethical financial planning advice. The Center brings together CFP® professionals, firms, educators, researchers and experts to address profession-wide challenges in the areas of diversity and workforce development, and to build an academic home that offers opportunities for conducting and publishing new research that adds to the financial planning body of knowledge


Jessica Lewis
Communications Specialist
Mobile: 301-655-0389