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FPA Creates "Virtual Externship" Program

Developed with TD Ameritrade Institutional, the program will assist students and others who lost the opportunity for on-site education and training because of the COVID-19 virus.

Students who may have been planning on financial planning internships before the spread of COVID-19 have another option with the “virtual externship” program developed by the Financial Planning Association and TD Ameritrade Institutional.

The program, which will run from June 1 to July 30, will be free for FPA members. In addition to students, it will be available to planners who may have lost their jobs due to the crisis, as well as individuals in the midst of their career who are considering becoming financial planners. Additionally, those who enroll who are working for, or intend to achieve CFP certification, will get 160 hours toward the Standard Pathway in the CFP Board’s Experience Requirement.

The program intends to offer students the kind of experience they would have attained during an internship, according to Hannah Moore, a CFP at Guiding Wealth in Richardson, Texas, and the organizer of the externship program.

“This program will give students a greater understanding of our profession and what their options are,” she said. “They will be exposed to multiple models and ways of working with clients, which will help them know the direction they want their career to go.”

Each week of the eight-week program will center on a different topic, including investment planning, cash flow planning, retirement planning and estate planning, with each week bringing in practioner mentors who are still being selected, according to the FPA. The weeks will include one day each of learning and case studies, software training, and office hours with mentors and tech partners. To bolster communication, the FPA will set up virtual happy hours for enrollees and an online community and forum.

“Despite the current challenges, the financial planning profession cannot waiver from its mission to attract and develop new talent,” said Kate Healy, the managing director of Generation Next at TD Ameritrade Institutional. “Students, recent graduates and really anyone who aspires to make financial planning their vocation, now through this program have an opportunity to connect with an array of practitioners.”

Last month, the XY Planning Network announced its own virtual internship program to support students who may have lost out on opportunities due to the virus by connecting potential interns to advisors in their network, and helping those advisors with whatever they would need to create a virtual internship program. Co-founder Alan Moore said he hoped students would find it a meaningful opportunity and critiqued firms that were unprepared for a remote experience.

“The inability of many advisory firms to adapt to a virtual work environment and instead cancel internships of students graduating with degrees in financial planning is disappointing to say the least,” he said.

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