Many insurance professionals are transitioning into financial planning, expanding products and services due to both requests from clients and because of the increased opportunity provided. Consumers have greater needs and are looking for broader services.

There is more competition, so offering financial planning gives one a greater entr?e with new clients. Some find that one answer to these challenges is to offer financial planning and have broadly recognized financial planning credentials. One of the most widely known in the public’s mind and in press reports is the Certified Financial Planner, or CFP designation.

Firms that recruit new people make a huge investment in training, strategies, product knowledge and sales. Hiring recent graduates of CFP Board-registered programs can give you a leg up on the recruiting and training process.

The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards requirements for use of the CFP marks include the four “E”s: Education, Examination, Experience and Ethics. There are 310 registered programs at 191 institutions that provide an educational program that meets the education requirement.

Thousands of folks complete these programs every year and they are looking for work – a place to use their newly acquired knowledge and skills. They have valuable technical skills in cash flow, retirement planning, estate planning, insurance, income tax and how to integrate these disciplines.

They are typically very client-centered and view financial planning as a helping profession. To paraphrase the old Clinton campaign slogan, “It’s about the client, stupid.” Program graduates are looking for someplace where they can really help people while using their new skills to do it right.

They are generally bright and have demonstrated commitment in that they have worked very hard and spent quite a lot of money to achieve the completion of the educational program. So, you already know they are intelligent, committed and willing to work hard. Many have the entrepreneurial spirit and/or sales experience.

Most graduates of these programs can be divided into 2 groups: career-changers; and those graduating from college who are new to the workforce.

Career-changers are typically in their mid 30s and older. They frequently have a college degree or an advanced degree. They have been in the workforce for years and are either drawn to financial issues and/or want a more fulfilling job. By fulfilling, I mean both in financial opportunities and in experiencing personal fulfillment from helping people.

The recent college graduates with a degree in financial planning are in their 20s. They may have little real world professional work experience; however, they sure have a lot of energy. Like most new college graduates, they are looking for the opportunity to grow, both personally and professionally.

These people should be approached from the point of view of helping clients financially. They want to work where they will have the chance to use the knowledge they have gained. They want to look at the client’s big picture, and then focus down to specific solutions. They very much are trained to think with a “needs approach” method.

The first thing they want to know is “where you’re coming from.” They want you to let them know that your company wants to help people and do the right thing. Once they know that, they will want the rest of the usual information about training, compensation, products and support that everyone should want to know.

Two questions that life insurance professionals often ask about this group are: (1) “Why are many CFPs shying away from life insurance? And (2) how do you attract experienced CFPs who don’t sell life insurance?”

Among other misconceptions, many CFPs believe that most of the life insurance industry is about sales, production, commissions and whole life. They don’t trust insurance agents to be focused on what’s right for the client. This issue should be addressed head on.

When discussing job opportunities with a CFP, you should lead with how you determine what is right for the client and how you determine their needs. Then you need to explore product features and benefits and, finally, compensation. Many insurance companies lead with compensation. This approach will not work with many CFP graduates.

Another area worth mentioning is the middle market client. Many new financial planners want to service this market and need support in determining how to do this and make a living. State Farm has made a major commitment to growing their agents and successfully working the middle market.

In partnership with the Financial Planning Association, State Farm sponsors a residency program for State Farm agents who have or are about to complete the CFP program. The residency is a week-long program that involves role-playing and case studies. It has been successful for many years. This middle market has many years of growth available.

If you’re client-oriented and want to grow by providing broader services to a growing clientele, and if you want to hire people with a head start on training and knowledge and have a proven commitment to work, education and service, then you should look hard at recruiting graduates of CFP-registered programs.