Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Meddling in Financial Planning

Practitioner vs. Academic within financial planning: who is the interloper?

Recently, I had a very interesting email exchange with a new acquaintance from Colorado. My new friend, a very talented, well pedigreed, financial planning practitioner submitted a paper to the same conference as myself, and our paths crossed as we were lumped into the same session, with him serving as the discussant of my study. Within his email, there was an interesting statement, and to summarize, he felt as though he was an interloper to the conference event in that he was a 'practitioner' as opposed to an 'academic.' I found this most interesting and worthy of deep thought. Possibly even a major future study. So then, who really is the interloper?

One of the main objectives I have employed with regard to my academic studies has been to try to apply areas of study in such a way that (I hope) helps the financial planning practitioner. One recent study I generated was a compilation of work conducted in conjunction with Rebecca King and the Financial Planning Association, as they were so generous to allow us to survey FPA members. Along the way, I was fortunate enough to have worked with Deena Katz (she was a committee member on my dissertation as well), a true financial planning pioneer and legend, Mrs. Katz reviewed this study and provided so much wonderful feedback. In this sense, I value the 'working world' practitioner as their feedback provides timely information and viewpoints to current and future studies, that many times might just go overlooked by the academic.

I believe there to be a sense of desire to develop strong relationships between academics and practitioners. From past experience, there are definite gaps in what academics know and what they have the ability to apply to the sphere of practice. By this, I mean that the academic community can learn a great deal from the practitioner as well, sometimes, simply by just listening and then responding in language the practitioner can synthesize. As for me, I think in terms of a ‘blank canvas,’ and one just keeps working to narrow the gaps a little bit at a time. In the end, if I generate an article that helps even one person to think or understand the practice of financial planning from a different perspective or in a new way, then I know that my investment in the time to learn new things at higher levels was for the greater good.

Thus, in a sense aren’t we really all interlopers? Possibly our collective trespass is a positive thing? Just think, maybe, looking from a different perspective, it could be that possibly financial planning is, in and of itself, an interloper. Think of it from a truly academic point of view, where does financial planning belong? Is it business, is it human sciences, is it law, is it social science? From the practitioner point of view, is it a field, is it a profession, is it industry? The more we all meddle in the dynamic, cross functional nature of financial planning, the more we will understand.

Your fellow interloper,

Dr. D


  1. I am just wondering, does it ever bother you that I am the only person that comments?

  2. I find this very interesting. I've thought about the differences between practice and theory and the similarities between the two.