The undergraduate degree program in financial planning at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J., is only six years old, but in that time, Luke Dean, academic coordinator of the financial planning program, has seen a steady rise in the number of student enrollments.
He’s also noted an increase in the number of degree programs – undergraduate as well as graduate – in financial planning in universities across the country, and that’s partly because more and more financial planning firms are looking to recruit students with financial planning degrees.
At the same time, however, many university students are not even aware that this career path exists.
Most students go to college “to get a job and not an education,” Dean says, and although they may be aware of the importance of financial planning, the actual job of financial planner is somehow far removed from most horizons.
Dean, however, is dedicated to the cause of getting a greater number of students on board to fill what appears to be a huge gap in the financial planning industry. Banks, wirehouses and independent advisory firms all have jobs and paid internships to offer, he says, and are looking to hire university graduates, so the more interest that can be generated for degree programs such as the one offered at William Paterson, the better for the profession in general. That’s particularly so because the financial advisory community is aging, and there’s a need for fresh blood.
“There’s definitely an awareness in the industry of the need to add younger people and also younger people from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds,” Dean says. “The industry has also responded in a big way to the need for hiring more women, and I get a lot of calls saying “I want to hire your top female students.’”
That’s a huge change, of course, but still, Dean believes that there’s a long way to go in terms of increasing diversity, gender as well as ethnic, in the advisory profession.