Benjamin F. Cummings, Ph.D., CFP®, is an assistant professor at Saint Joseph’s University, where he teaches financial planning courses in the CFP Board-registered programs. He has completed award-winning research on the use and value of financial advice.
Jean L. Heck, Ph.D., is the Brian C. Duperreault 1969 Chair for Risk Management and Insurance at Saint Joseph’s University. He is the founding president of the Academy of Business Education and the Financial Education Association. Heck has authored more than 50 articles in academic journals and has published four books on financial management.
- Five journals that have a particular focus on financial planning were analyzed: Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning, Financial Services Review, Journal of Personal Finance, Journal of Financial Planning, and Journal of Financial Service Professionals.
- The most prolific authors in these core financial planning journals over the last 30 years were identified. A separate analysis identified the most prolific authors of the last 10 years.
- Over the last decade, financial planning practitioners continued to make significant contributions to the core financial planning journals.
- Of the authors with primarily academic affiliations, Texas Tech University, University of Georgia, Kansas State University, and The American College were the institutions with the most prolific financial planning authors.
Research is a key component of an academic discipline. Publishing research in peer-reviewed journals continues to be a common requirement for academics pursuing tenure and promotion. Occasionally, researchers have endeavored to analyze the landscape of published research within a particular discipline or sub-discipline. This type of analysis can be useful in identifying top educational programs and prolific researchers (see Baltagi 2007; Danielson and Heck 2014; Geistfeld and Key 1986; Neary, Mirrlees, and Tirole 2003; Phillips, Choi, and Schochet 1988; Scott and Mitias 1996).
As a relatively new profession, and an even younger academic discipline, little is known about the comprehensive landscape of financial planning research and its key players. This paper seeks to provide such insight, particularly regarding the most prolific authors in financial planning over the last three decades.
Grable (2006) provided a thorough review of publication rankings commonly used in academic financial planning programs. Of these rankings, Grable noted: “While other publications certainly publish papers that cover these topic areas, only Financial Counseling and Planning (now known as the Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning), Financial Services Review, Journal of Personal Finance, Journal of Financial Planning, and Journal of Financial Service Professionals publish papers that have a predominant relevance to the financial planning and counseling community” (p. 75). Beach and Kaushik (2012) also identified these five journals as “a platform to researchers for their research in financial planning” (p. 324). Grable and Archuleta (2009) reiterated the value of these five journals in evaluating financial planning faculty for tenure and promotion decisions. As such, this analysis focused on authorship of the articles that have been published in these five financial planning-focused journals.
Analyses of Financial Planning Research
Israelsen (1990) provided one of the earliest examples of an analysis of financial planning research by focusing on family resource management research from 1930 to 1990. Others have analyzed a single journal that publishes financial planning research. For example, Kasper and Grable (2005) provided a summary of citations found in the first three volumes of the Journal of Personal Finance (JPF). Although such analyses are helpful, the limited history of the journal at that time merits an updated and more thorough analysis of the articles published in JPF.
Hanna, Ji, Lee, et al. (2011) reviewed the 329 articles published in the first 18 volumes of Financial Services Review (FSR). In addition to highlighting the 14 most frequently published authors in FSR from 1991 to 2009, as well as a ranking of the most cited authors of articles in FSR, Hanna and his associates identified the most common keywords and Journal of Economic Literature codes, as well as their own topical categorizations. They further analyzed the articles according to the research approach, statistical methods, and survey datasets that were used. Beach and Kaushik (2012) also analyzed FSR contributors in light of a broader publication record in other financial planning and finance journals. They commented that FSR is “a prime outlet” for financial planning research (p. 323). They also suggested that FSR serves as an “important outlet” to both finance faculty as well as financial planning faculty (p. 332).
Ji, Hanna, Lawrence, and Miller (2010) analyzed the content of the articles published in the first two decades of the Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning (JFCP). Ji et al. focused on the content of the 141 journal articles published during the second decade of the journal’s existence (2000 to 2009), following the model used by Hanna (1999), which analyzed the 130 journal articles published during the first decade of JFCP. Ji et al. looked at several aspects of the articles, including the frequency of solo authorship and co-authorship, author-supplied key words, qualitative and quantitative research methods, national datasets, and an analysis of citations used within these articles. Ji et al. also published the 22 most prolific authors of the 141 journal articles in the second decade of JFCP, all of whom published at least three articles in the journal from 2000 to 2009.
No analysis could be identified regarding the authorship or content of the Journal of Financial Planning (JFP) or the Journal of Financial Service Professionals (JFSP). However, Most (2009) provided a reflective article on the 30 years of JFP. He highlighted some of the major contributions that were published in the preceding three decades.
No comprehensive analysis of financial planning research has been completed since Israelsen (1990), and arguably his analysis focused on what is now only part of what would be considered personal finance or financial planning research. Not surprisingly, research in financial planning and personal finance has developed considerably over the last few decades, especially since many of the publications that now focus on financial planning research were in their infancy, if even in existence, in 1990.
Core Financial Planning Journals
This analysis focused on the authorship of articles that appear in the collection of the five financial planning-focused journals, identified in Grable (2006) and Beach and Kaushik (2012): Financial Services Review (FSR), Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning (JFCP), Journal of Financial Service Professionals (JFSP), Journal of Financial Planning (JFP), and Journal of Personal Finance (JPF).
Although definitions of what constitutes financial planning may differ, these journals are identified as the core financial planning journals. A brief description of each of these journals follows, discussed in alphabetical order by the name of the journal. Evidence of their respective emphases on core financial planning-related topics is also highlighted, as indicated by language available on the websites of the journals or their publishing organizations.
Table 1 summarizes the publication information about each of these journals, including the current name of each journal, the current publishing organization(s), the year in which it was first published, the year in which it began using its current name, and its current publication frequency.
Financial Services Review
Historically, FSR was published by the Academy of Financial Services (AFS). Beginning in 2014, the Financial Planning Association (FPA) entered a partnership with AFS to begin co-publishing FSR1. AFS began publishing FSR in 1992. Originally FSR was published twice annually. In 1997, with Volume 6, FSR began publishing quarterly; however, Volume 10 published all four issues as a single volume2. The purpose of FSR, as stated in its editorial review policy3, highlights its emphasis on financial planning-related research:
“The purpose of [FSR] is to encourage research that examines the impact of financial issues on individuals. In contrast to the many corporate or institutional journals that are available in finance, the focus of this journal is on individual financial management. [FSR] provides a forum for those who are interested in the individual perspective on issues in the areas of banking/banking services, education in financial services, employee benefits, estate and tax planning, financial counseling, financial planning, insurance, investments, mutual funds, non-bank financial institutions, pension and retirement, planning, and real estate.”
Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning
JFCP is published by the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE). JFCP is currently published twice annually4. The journal has been published since 1990. The journal was originally published only once per year. Volume 8, published in 1997, was the first volume to include two issues. Until 2009, JFCP was originally called Financial Counseling and Planning. At that time, the editorial board voted to change the name by adding, “Journal of,” to the beginning of the title, which resulted in the name, “Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning” (Ji et al. 2010). The purpose of JFCP, as stated in its editorial policy5, highlights its emphasis on financial planning-related research:
“The purpose of the Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning is to disseminate scholarly research related to: the financial decision making of individuals and families; financial education and financial counseling techniques; and the education of professional financial educators, counselors, and planners.”
Journal of Financial Service Professionals
JFSP is published by the Society of Financial Service Professionals (FSP). JFSP was first published in 1946. Until 1966, JFSP was called, The Journal of the American Society of Chartered Life Underwriters, which was a publication of the American Society of Chartered Life Underwriters (ASCLU). In 1966, its name was changed to CLU Journal, until 1983, when its name was changed again to Journal of the American Society of CLU6. In 1986, the name was extended slightly to Journal of the American Society of CLU and ChFC. In 1988 the name was changed to its current form, Journal of Financial Service Professionals. Since 1984, the JFSP has been published six times per year. The purpose of JFSP, as stated on its website7, highlights its emphasis on financial planning-related research:
“The Journal of Financial Service Professionals publishes insightful peer-reviewed articles and regular columns by industry experts in all areas of financial planning, including retirement planning, estate planning, insurance, investments, tax, health care, ethics, and technology.”
Journal of Financial Planning
JFP was first published in 1979, under the name, Journal of the Institute of Certified Financial Planners, as a publication of the Institute of Certified Financial Planners (ICFP). In 1988, the name of the journal changed to its current title, Journal of Financial Planning, and began its current volume numbering with the Summer 1988 issue. JFP was published quarterly until 1996 (Volume 9), when publication increased to six issues per year. In 2000, the ICFP merged with the International Association for Financial Planning (IAFP) into what is now the Financial Planning Association (FPA). FPA is the current publisher of JFP. Also, in 2000 (Volume 13), JFP increased to its current publication schedule of monthly issues (Tuttle 2000). In 2011, JFP began awarding the Montgomery-Warschauer Award “to honor the paper that provided the most outstanding contribution to the betterment of the profession in the preceding year.”8 The purpose of JFP, as stated on its editorial advisory board webpage9, highlights its emphasis on financial planning-related research:
“The Journal of Financial Planning aims to publish cutting-edge research and perspectives that inform, benefit, and inspire the financial planning community.”
Journal of Personal Finance
JPF is published by the International Association of Registered Financial Consultants (IARFC). JPF was first published in 2002 and currently has 13 volumes. Historically, JPF has published anywhere from one to four issues per year10. More recently, only one or two issues have been published per year, and its current editorial policy is to publish twice per year11. The purpose of JPF, as stated on its homepage12, highlights its emphasis on financial planning-related research:
“… [JPF] promotes research to examine the impact of financial issues on households as well as research on the practice and profession of financial planning … [JPF welcomes articles] about financial products and services, client relationships, retirement planning, long-term care, practice management, or firm operation or efficiencies.”
Data and Methods
This analysis focused on peer-reviewed research articles appearing in these five financial planning journals over the period 1985 to 2014. As Beach and Kaushik (2012) noted, some of these journals included articles and other contributions (for example, notes, book reviews, comments, etc.) that are not peer-reviewed. These types of non-peer-reviewed articles were excluded from this analysis. For journals with a publication history shorter than 30 years, the entire publication history of the journal was used. With this methodological framework, this analysis addressed the following questions:
- Who are the most prolific authors in the core financial planning journals over the last 30 years?
- Who are the most prolific authors in the last 10 years?
- Regarding the most prolific authors over the last 10 years:
- At what universities are the authors currently employed?
- Where did the authors receive their Ph.D. (if applicable)?
For the purposes of this analysis, the most prolific authors are defined as those who had the greatest number of appearances as an author in one of the core financial planning journals over a 30-year or 10-year period. Authors were identified as having appeared as an author regardless of co-authorship. In other words, authors generated an appearance whether they published an article as a solo author or as a co-author.
An adjusted measure of appearances is also reported. This statistic accounts for the number of co-authors in any given paper. With this adjusted measure, if an article had a single author, that solo author received the full, unadjusted weight for the article. If an article had two authors, each author received one-half the weight (50 percent) for the article. If an article had three authors, each author received one-third the weight (33 percent) for the article, and so on. For example, an author with one solo authored paper and two co-authored papers, each with two co-authors, would have an appearance of 3.0, and an adjusted appearance of 2.0 (1.0 + 0.5 + 0.5 = 2.0).
In order to account for authors who had published over a considerable duration of time, the first analysis focused on a 30-year history. However, only two of the core financial planning journals were in existence three decades ago. As such, a more in-depth analysis was performed by focusing on the most prolific authors over the last decade starting in 2005 and ending in 2014.
Table 2 provides a summary of the number of unique authors, articles, and appearances of those authors within each of the five core financial planning journals. Table 2 also includes summary statistics, including the mean and median number of authors, articles, and appearances, as well as the totals among all five journals. The mean (median) number of authors per journal was 650 (627); the mean (median) number of articles per journal was 567 (428); and the mean (median) number of appearances per journal was 971 (897).
Collectively, 2,827 unique authors appeared in these five journals within the last three decades, authoring a combined 2,833 articles. These 2,827 authors appeared 4,856 times as either a solo author or as a co-author. Across all five financial planning journals, the ratio of articles to authors was slightly more than 1.00. It is important to note that this ratio does not imply that the average author had written a solo paper; instead, this ratio suggests that the combined number of articles written was roughly equivalent to the total number of unique authors. The combined ratio of appearances to authors was 1.72, suggesting that the average author appeared as an author or co-author on slightly less than two articles. The combined ratio of appearances per article was 1.71, which suggests that the average article across the core financial planning journals had slightly less than two authors.
In comparing the core financial planning journals, JFSP and JFP had the highest and the second highest number of authors, articles, and appearances, respectively. These results were not surprising, given that these are the only two of the core financial planning journals with a history longer than 30 years. These journals also have the highest current publication frequency. Conversely, JPF had the lowest number of authors, articles, and appearances, which was also not surprising, given that it is the newest of the core financial planning journals.
Regarding the ratios of authors, articles, and appearances, FSR had the lowest ratio of articles per author at 0.68, whereas JFSP had the highest ratio at 1.03. JPF had the lowest ratio of appearances per author at 1.32, whereas JFCP had the highest ratio at 1.78. JFSP had the lowest ratio of appearances per article at 1.47, whereas JFCP had the highest ratio at 2.32. A ratio of appearances per article of 2.32 suggests that the average article was co-authored by two to three authors.
The names of the most prolific authors in the core financial planning journals are reported in Appendix 1. Sherman Hanna was the most prolific author in the core financial planning journals with a total of 39 appearances in the last 30 years. John Grable was the second most prolific author, with 37 appearances over the same time frame. Using the adjusted appearances reported in parentheses in Appendix 1, which adjusts for the number of co-authors, Barbara O’Neill was the most prolific author in the core financial planning journals. Using the adjusted appearances measure, John Grable and Sherman Hanna were the second and third most prolific authors, respectively.
The most prolific authors within each of the core financial planning journals over the last 30 years are reported in Appendix 2. William Reichenstein was the most prolific author in FSR with 12 appearances (as either a solo or co-author). An additional 21 authors had at least four appearances in FSR. Sherman Hanna was the most prolific author in JFCP with 26 appearances. An additional 26 authors had at least five appearances in JFCP, and an additional 10 authors had four appearances. Stephan Leimberg was the most prolific author in JFSP with 19 appearances, leading 25 other authors who had at least six appearances and an additional 35 authors with four or five appearances. David Blanchett led the authorship for JFP with 19 appearances. An additional 37 authors had at least four appearances. Barbara O’Neill was the most prolific author in JPF with nine appearances, leading 14 other authors who had at least three appearances in JPF.
The prolific authors over the last decade, from 2005 to 2014, are reported in Appendix 3. Authors are ranked according to the number of appearances, regardless of the number of co-authors. Weighted appearances are reported in parentheses. This statistic accounts for co-authorship, as described previously. Over the last decade, John Grable was the most prolific author, with 27 appearances (12.42 weighted appearances). David Blanchett and Michael Finke tied as the second and third most prolific authors with 21 appearances each, although David Blanchett had a higher number of weighted appearances, after accounting for co-authorship (16.0 as compared to 8.75).
Further analyses were performed on the most prolific authors over the last decade regarding gender, academic affiliation, and Ph.D. alumni institution. The most recently available and publically visible academic affiliations are reported in this analysis. Table 3 reports the gender breakdown of the 78 authors highlighted in Appendix 3. Approximately 26 percent of the authors were female.
Table 4 summarizes the universities with the largest number of prolific authors as full-time faculty members. Texas Tech University had the largest number of prolific authors, which is not surprising, given the size of its full-time financial planning faculty. The University of Georgia and Kansas State University tied for second, with four full-time faculty members at each institution who were prolific authors. At the time of the analysis, The American College of Financial Services employed three of the most prolific authors over the last decade. Additionally, nine of the most prolific authors worked in the financial planning profession, although some of these professionals may also have had adjunct professor positions at a college or university. These individuals tended to be practitioners, many of whom were affiliated with registered investment adviser firms.
Table 5 summarizes the universities with the largest number of prolific authors who graduated from a financial planning (or similar) Ph.D. program. Texas Tech University was the leading producer of prolific financial planning authors; 12 of the most prolific authors over the last decade received their doctoral degree from Texas Tech’s financial planning program (an additional prolific author received a Ph.D. in finance from Texas Tech University.) Seven of the most prolific authors received their Ph.D. from Virginia Tech, and five received their Ph.D. from the University of Missouri–Columbia’s financial planning program (an additional author received a Ph.D. in finance from the University of Missouri–Columbia.) Other institutions with at least three prolific authors include the University of Texas at Austin, The Ohio State University, and Florida State University.
A number of prolific financial planning authors did not have a doctoral degree. A master’s degree was the highest degree of nine of the most prolific authors. Four of the prolific authors had a juris doctorate (J.D.), as well as an LL.M. One author possessed a master’s degree, as well as a J.D. and an LL.M. An additional author (not reported) has a J.D. and no LL.M. Many of the master’s degrees were masters of business administration (MBAs), and many were a master of science in financial services (MSFS). Some of the other advanced degrees were in closely related fields, such as taxation.
This article has attempted to summarize the most frequently appearing authors in the core financial planning journals over the last three decades, with an emphasis on authorship over the most recent decade, from 2005 to 2014. Although financial planning researchers publish work in other journals and outlets, those who publish frequently in the core financial planning journals included in this analysis are likely to be leading research in the financial planning profession. Alternatively, some of the authors in the core financial planning journals may have a predominant research focus other than financial planning. The objective of this analysis was not to provide a comprehensive review of all publications of financial planning researchers. Rather, this analysis sought to highlight the authors who provide considerable contributions to the financial planning field, and by so doing, appear to be dedicated to research within financial planning related topics.
This analysis focused on appearances rather than weighted appearances, which may bias the rankings in favor of authors who seek to co-author articles rather than to write individually. Further, many individuals may naturally seek co-authors within their own department, or with whom they attended graduate school, which also may bias the university rankings. Despite these limitations, this analysis provides the reader with a thorough analysis of the most prolific authors in the core financial planning journals. As such, readers may be inclined to learn more about the research these authors have performed.
Grable and Archuleta (2009) observed that the core financial planning journals described here are often a primary outlet for financial planning faculty, even though none of the journals are included in the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) or Web of Science13.
Financial planning, by its nature, is quite interdisciplinary, and some authors may decide to target publishing in indexed journals of related disciplines. Financial planning continues to expand, both as a profession and as an academic discipline. As more institutions adopt financial planning programs, more financial planning faculty ought to be producing research beneficial for the financial planning profession, and they will often target these core financial planning journals for publication. To raise the profile of the financial planning profession, editorial boards of these core financial planning journals ought to seek opportunities to raise the profiles of these journals—and those who publish in the journals—so that they can continue to attract quality research.
Because financial planning is rather interdisciplinary, further analyses on financial planning publications could include more journals, with a broader scope that incorporates financial planning as a potential area of interest. Another potential area of interest involves identifying other journals where these prolific authors have published, and how often they have published in each journal. Gaining a better understanding of the publishing efforts of the prolific financial planning authors can also help younger faculty know where they might consider targeting their submissions. Lastly, constructing an impact factor relevant to these and other financial planning-related journals may be helpful in enhancing the profile of these publications.
Financial planners are encouraged to seek out opportunities to read the research of some or all of the prolific authors highlighted in this analysis. Some journals, including JFP, allow current FPA members access to online archives of past issues. More recent issues of FSR are also available online to FPA members. Archives of the JPF and JFCP are available online, accessible by the public through their respective journal websites. More recent issues of the JFSP are available online to members of the Society of Financial Service Professionals. Many of these issues may also be accessible to practitioners by visiting a local college or university
library and inquiring about their access.
According to 2015 ProQuest publication and title history search for Journal of Financial Service Professionals.
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