For firms looking to put recent graduates to work drafting financial plans, would-be advisors say that’s not what they want. Instead, they desire positions with a first-hand view ofhow financial services can help clients.
More than a third of advisors say they plan to hire a junior associate over the next year, according to the 2015 Trends in Adviser Compensation and Benefits study, conducted by the FPA in partnership with Financial Advisor IQ. Another 18 percent of firms across all channels say they’re looking to hire a paraplanner.
But three current financial planning students—all recent recipients of TD Ameritrade’s NextGen Financial Planning scholarships—noted the importance of working at a firm that allows them to be an active part of the team, rather than back office support.
“When I was hired on at current internship, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be getting coffee, changing trash and making sure the copy machine had enough paper. Those things are necessary and things I can do—as an intern, it’s not like I think I’m too good for that—but, at the same time, I look forward to be able to get to know the clients,” said Martha “Martie” Tullis, a Utah Valley financial planning student who currently interns with LJCooper Wealth Advisors.
“I like to feel that they care about my goals just as much as they care about their clients,” Tullis said of her time at LJCooper. “I don’t want to just be the back office staff, I want to sign the birthday cards [to clients] too. I want to be part of the team, not just the copy machine girl.”
Anthony Radice, a William Paterson University student currently interning with Mariner Wealth Advisors, said it’s important for young advisors to be active wherever they work.
“Mariner’s policy is that you can take in clients at any level, it doesn’t matter how much accumulated wealth they have,” Radice added, noting the policy really struck a chord with him.
“I want to see the difference I’m making," said Junghyun "Jacqueline" Lee, also a Utah Valley student. "The reason I changed my major [to financial planning] because this allows me to work with people and help others.”
Last year, only about 700 students graduated with degrees in financial planning, TD Ameritrade Institutional President Tom Nally said. So they can afford to be choosey, with many receiving multiple job offers upon graduation.
In addition to firms offering more client-facing opportunities for younger advisors, Nally said the industry needs to address its reputation. “Every time you turn on the news, you hear negativity around financial services,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure we’re changing that perception and raising the visibility of the good people in financial services are doing.”
And firms can certainly help by ensuring that internships and job opportunities are more than just back office support roles, but rather robust, interesting experiences. "You might be interviewing these students for an internship, but they're interviewing us for a lifelong career," Nally said.