As a person who just hired a grad- uate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Personal Financial Planning (CFP) program, the February 2005 cover story, "The Great Divide," doesn't come as a total surprise.
Twice I've spoken to a group of these students and they stood in line waiting to hear more from me. They are taught by a Ph.D. who was once a practitioner in the industry and is a CFP. He imparts to them the importance of objectivity, removing conflicts of interest, and putting the client's needs first.
Then these bright young eager graduates start jobhunting and they are so depressed. Guess who's doing most of the hiring? Wirehouses (they hear they'll be doing a lot of cold calling) and insurance companies (they hear they'll be a captive agent). Based on what they learned in school, they don't want to work in these kinds of environments.
Based on the experience I had with the young man we hired (we had him as an intern prior to his graduation and didn't want to lose him), I'll be hiring more planners out of college programs. For one, they have no bad habits to break, and the students I've had the most experience with seem to want to help others.
I've also met those that I'm sure want to go into this profession for the money, even at the expense of the client. But then, every profession faces this same scenario.
From what I'm hearing from these students, there just aren't enough jobs available doing the kind of "good financial planning" that they want to do.
Janet Tyler Johnson
Clifton Gunderson LLP
Pay Your Dues First
While you raised some valid points in your February cover story on how the financial planning business can improve with respect to the utilization of new hires ("The Great Divide"), I believe you failed to consider a number of salient factors.
I'm a sole practitioner and I do all the "dirty work" at my firm. I have an intern that comes in once a week. The intern does nothing that I don't also do.
I practiced law for 14 years. After graduating law school, you don't start out with the glory work, you start out with the junk work and slowly progress.
Medical school graduates don't start doing complex medical procedures upon graduation. They have a number of years of internship and residency--long hours and low pay--before they achieve any real responsibility and financial reward.
While the graduates of financial planning programs may be technically competent, there is something to be said for maturity, which gives you many intangibles that are part of dealing with clients in the financial planning process.
Only $50,000 a year? How much do teachers make? How much do other graduates with a B.A. make? Young lawyers in small towns probably don't make much more.
Only $50,000 a year? Maybe that's what the market rate is. Maybe there is a glut of graduates from financial planning programs. In a capitalist society, that's how the law of supply and demand works.
Only $50,000 a year? As in the law firms I worked in, those who bring in the business get paid more than the more technically competent lawyers who don't bring in clients.
Other than sports, there are not too many professions where you start out on top.
Bruce M. Wiener, CFP
Too Young To Know
Your article by Angela Herbers, "The Great Divide," brings to mind the old saying about the four stages of one's career. The first stage is "incompetent and don't know it," the second stage is "incompetent and do know it," the third stage is "competent and don't know it," and, finally, "competent and do know it."
After reading the article about how "well-educated, well-trained college graduates" are being stymied by old-generation financial planners and not being allowed to "hit the ground running," I would have to conclude that Ms. Herbers is still stuck in the first stage of her career.
Fred I. Johnson, CFP
Kudos to Gluck
Thanks for the great article on Advent and PowerBroker (The Gluck Report, "Advent's Big Challenge," January 2005). I'm a small RIA that was one of Techfi's first clients. I still use it since it's very easy to use. Now that Advent bought Techfi and is dismantling it, I'm faced with another decision. Since I experienced how Advent does business firsthand, I'm definitely leaning to another startup like PowerBroker. At least I can request features while they are still small. I just hope they don't sell out to Advent too.
Keep up the great work!
Jim and Janet Elder
After reading Andy Gluck's January 2005 column that discussed Advent's Axys portfolio management system, we felt compelled to clarify a number of items. To begin, Advent has nearly 800 employees, not 50. And the name of the company is Advent Software, not Advent Corporation.
In this column Mr. Gluck proposes that the Axys proprietary database provides real limitations to advisory firms, and that an industrious advisor using an ODBC-compliant portfolio management system could create his own simple CRM system.
Our 22 years of experience in this industry has led us to understand that firms with assets in the range of $100 million rightly devote the bulk of their resources to gaining and retaining clients through excellent money management and client service.
Rarely have we met a firm in this profile that wants to take on the added cost and burden of hiring programmers or, even as Mr. Gluck suggests, learn database programming. They want to manage their business on software they can rely on.
Axys was built to be a scalable, off-the-shelf system that allows firms to quickly begin using the software, and that will grow with them as their firm grows. Far from limiting, Axys has a long history of making our nearly 4,000 clients' businesses more efficient by providing sophisticated accounting and performance measurement, ensuring compliance with annual tax and AIMR requirements, streamlining the reporting process, and providing accurate, timely data for investment decision-making. Feedback from clients has consistently told us that Axys is a business platform firms value because they can leverage it over the course of many, many years.
We work with investment advisors every day who are making decisions on which technology to help run their business based on their workflow, in-house IT proficiency, and budget. The process of choosing a technology platform on which to run your business should be a thoughtful one. Mr. Gluck greatly oversimplifies this process, and in doing so we feel he's doing his readers a disservice.
Public Relations Manager
Editor-at Large Andrew Gluck responds: While I incorrectly referred to Advent Software by something other than its proper corporate name, and we misstated the number of employees due to an editing error, the basic premise of the story--that Advent is built on outmoded 1980s technology--and all other facts in the story were accurate.
Due to an editing error, the February "The Final Word" column misstated the price of crude oil at the end of 2004. It should have been $48.