Getting to Know the Next Generation of Financial Planners
• Hannah Moore • October 27, 2020
The next generation of financial planners is coming, and they have a whole new attitude towards financial advice.
I was recently fortunate enough to help the Financial Planning Association organize and launch a Virtual Externship Program. The program had nearly 2,000 registrants from across the nation. We were able to give these participants hands-on experience with financial planning like never before.
Amidst the backdrop of COVID-19 where students weren’t able to participate in internships, job offers were rescinded or put on hold, and aspiring planners faced unprecedented barriers to entering the profession, the externship program offered a unique opportunity to help groom the next generation of planners.
In the process, we learned quite a bit about why people are motivated to become financial planners and what they intend to do once they’ve established their book of business. In fact, we got some interesting results when we surveyed the program participants on what attracted them to financial planning:
- 83% – Helping people
- 58% – Work/life balance
- 45% – Path to entrepreneurship
- 34% – Technical analysis
- 26% – Demand for jobs
- 23% – Starting salary
The next generation of financial planners are primarily driven to help people. It’s extremely exciting to see how these people approach financial advice, as well as what this means for the future of planning.
Aspiring Planners Need an Access Point
When we set out creating the externship program, our goal was to replace internships and jobs that had been lost due to COVID-19. What we quickly realized, however, was that we were addressing a broader problem of accessibility.
We had an incredibly diverse student body, from high schoolers to industry veterans, and college graduates to career changers. Although the program was originally designed for college students and recent graduates, we found that people of all ages and experience levels needed this exposure to get their foot in the door.
To meet this need, we were able to offer everyone 20 hours of financial planning practice every week for eight weeks. They got the chance to do the actual work of planning for several different types of firms, and we tailored three different tiers of courses to the experience and capabilities of our participants. It was a great starting point for people to decide what they wanted to do—it also counted for 160 hours of experience towards the Certified Financial Planner certification.
While the externship program doesn’t replace the in-depth experience an internship can offer at a single firm, we found that this level of exposure to a financial planning career is rare. For aspiring planners, especially those who may have a less traditional path to becoming a planner, there is no straightforward access point to planning, specifically the type of financial planning that they’ve set out to do.
A New Vision for Financial Planning
When I meet with a client, I’m not selling them one investment product over another. I’m leading with the sale of financial planning itself. We had a number of top universities participate in the program and they’ve truly embraced the idea of financial planning as a helping profession, not a sales-driven profession.
Universities have done a great job of teaching their students what financial planning can be. They’re communicating the profound ways in which it can impact a client’s life, how it can be a form of empowerment, and how it can be a powerful way to help those who need it.
We saw this in our externship program as well. One comment in particular has stuck with me:
“As a disabled single mother, I couldn’t find a planner that wanted to work with my limited assets, despite my need for planning to avoid poverty in old age. This is a major factor in my decision to become a financial planner. If I need help and can’t find it, I bet I’m not alone.”
The next generation of financial advisors have been sold a particular vision of planning. In some instances, they even have a deeply personal or emotional drive to help people by empowering them with financial planning. They are eager to be holistic planners and establish a career in a helping profession—which only means great things for our profession—but if their experience in their first few jobs doesn’t align with the vision they’ve been sold, they may be likely to leave the profession.
Understanding this about the next wave of planners, firms should prepare to accommodate the future of their workforce, and in turn, deliver greater outcomes for their clients.
Planning for Tomorrow
Aspiring planners have a whole new agenda for financial planning. They have lofty goals for financial advice, which may be very much in alignment with what the investor of the future wants. What we saw in the externship program was an exciting testament to what’s next for our profession, and it was inspiring to be a part of something so impactful for so many people.
If you’re interested in learning more, you can read about the FPA’s externship program here and stay up to date on what next year holds.
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