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DENVER – Ten years ago, a small group of young financial planners gathered to explore how they could aid their personal journeys in planning while also supporting the long-term viability of the profession. Today, FPA NexGen – a community of the Financial Planning Association® (FPA®) – boasts over 2,000 members and is instrumental in the organization’s plans to create a pipeline for the future of the profession.

To commemorate this milestone, the September 2014 issue of the Journal of Financial Planning will feature a roundtable discussion with FPA NexGen founders, and past and present leaders. The community will also host an educational track geared toward younger planners at the FPA Annual Conference – BE Seattle 2014​, with sessions on client engagement, career development and necessary planning skills. They will also host an FPA NexGen Town Hall and FPA NexGen Reception to discuss and brainstorm the latest trends and ideas with peers and facilitate connections.

“It has been inspiring to observe this group of young planners as they have made FPA NexGen about more than their own personal development, but about the future of the profession,” said Lauren M. Schadle, CAE, FPA executive director and CEO. “FPA NexGen has become ingrained in the fabric of our association. They are looking to have a positive impact on the organization and the entire profession because they know they are going to carry the planning torch in the years to come.”

FPA NexGen strives to provide members with a network that serves to:
  • Support, advise and encourage one another in professional advancement
  • Promote, foster and direct programs that aid in knowledge transference
  • Explore issues common to younger planners and seek means of accentuating the positives and finding resolutions for the negatives
FPA NexGen was unofficially formed at FPA Retreat 2004 as the brainchild of Aaron Coates, CFP®, with founding members Dave Demming, Jr., CFP®, Michael Kitces, CFP® and April Johnson when they discussed how they could encourage younger planners to be more involved and connected with those professionals who were the backbone of the industry.

“Older advisers had a place to go with the concerns they had and the challenges they were having, but younger planners didn’t have a place of their own,” said Aaron Coates, CFP® of Valeo Financial Advisors in Indianapolis, Ind. “NexGen just became that place for younger planners.”

“Financial planning is a young profession, so many of the challenges faced by younger planners was due to a lack of infrastructure and support systems that typically exist in other professions,” added Andrew Siversten, CFP®, 2014 president of FPA NexGen. “Just knowing that there were other people like you that were going through the same challenges within their firms, or within their own personal or professional lives, provided real appeal for people coming into the community.”

Membership in FPA NexGen is reserved for those 36 years old or younger, a provision that was controversial early on. “I’m glad we kept the age-based membership requirement in place, though,” said founding member Michael Kitces, CFP®. “It has helped to ensure that NexGen remained focused on its own mission, and that the focus didn’t simply shift as the original members aged.”

Today, members coalesce around three membership groupings: People who are graduating out of CFP® programs, people who are on an entrepreneur track who are trying to start their own practices, and people who are looking at moving into practices to purchase them. With this understanding, the community is focusing on how to create value for all three groups. 

FPA NexGen has become a home for students graduating out of university financial planning and CFP® registered programs, but it’s also a home for innovative thinking on business and service models, effective uses of technology and communication, providing financial advice to Generations X and Y, and more.

“The dominant question for years was, ‘What is the career path?’ But I think a lot of work has been done on that and there are more resources available now than there were 10 years ago,” said Laurie Belew, CFP®, 2015 president of FPA NexGen. “What we’re really hearing now is, ‘How can we step into leadership roles in our firm?’ ‘How do we make a succession plan work in our firm?’ ‘How do I start my own business?’ ‘How do I serve my peers as clients?’ The dialogue has really changed as the needs of the community have evolved over the years.”

Through a series of events catering to young planners and students at the national and chapter levels (including the annual NexGen Gathering), online forums (FPA Connect) for virtual collaboration and engaging in activities to grow the pipeline of new talent coming in to the profession, FPA NexGen has had a positive impact. It has also produced one of FPA’s most current leaders – 2014 FPA Chair Michael Branham, CFP®. “I think I’m a better professional and a better planner because of FPA NexGen. I was exposed to different ideas, skillsets and technical knowledge that allowed me to learn from other members at a young age,” said Branham.

As FPA NexGen celebrates its 10th anniversary, the significance of the milestone has not been lost on Aaron Coates, CFP®, the person known as the founder of the community, who said, “I think it’s fair to say that NexGen has served an important voice and it’s had a major contribution on FPA and the profession.”  

Learn more about FPA NexGen. Members of the media are invited to reach out directly to the following FPA members for further comment on the 10th anniversary of FPA NexGen:
  • Aaron Coates, CFP® of Valeo Financial Advisors in Indianapolis, Ind. (317-218-6000,
  • Michael Kitces, CFP® of Pinnacle Advisory Group in Columbia, Md. (703-375-9478,
  • Andrew Siversten, CFP® of The Planning Center in Moline, Ill. (309-797-4030,
  • Laurie Belew, CFP® of FJY Financial in Reston, Va. (703-889-1111, 
  • Michael Branham, CFP® of Cornerstone Wealth Advisors in Edina, Minn. (952-920-3900,