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Financial Planning > College Planning

A New Hope

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In the individual video interviews I conducted with the leaders of the 2014 Broker-Dealers of the Year, I asked what advice they’d give to a college student considering a career in the financial advice field. Their responses varied somewhat, but each included this duet of advice for students: This is a profession where you can not only make a significant difference in people’s lives, but you can make a healthy living while doing so. (One of the presidents also confided in me that he was proud that one of his children had entered the business.)

Mark Tibergien of Pershing Advisor Solutions likes to say that as an advisor you “profoundly impact the lives of other people. It’s financially rewarding. It’s intellectually stimulating. Throw in walks on the beach and it’s a pretty good personals ad.”

We know from Tibergien’s years-long warnings that are now being borne out in the hard numbers that the industry is sitting on a human capital time bomb. Kim Dellarocca of Pershing said last year that “each year for the next 10 years, 12,000 to 16,000 advisors will retire,” while growing demand will create the need for 237,000 new advisors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts in its Occupational Outlook Handbook that there will be a 27% increase in what it calls “personal financial advisors” between 2012 and 2022 (BLS says the average increase for those 10 years for all occupations is 11%).

In this issue, veteran recruiter Jon Henschen takes his own tack on that ticking bomb and concludes that women will be the industry’s salvation.

More women, more people of color, more career-changers would certainly be welcome, but following some discussions I had in July at the New York Stock Exchange, I wonder if young financial planners and students aren’t the best advertisements for the profession.

I spoke at length to three different college seniors (and one of their instructors) at the Stock Exchange who were there as recipients of TD Ameritrade Institutional’s NextGen scholarships. I was impressed. They were polite, articulate and passionate. They knew all about social media and advisor technology, but they also spoke knowledgeably about how to talk to clients. They seemed entirely comfortable sitting in the Exchange’s impressive boardroom and far from intimidated in talking to a sometimes cranky member of the press. They seemed like the perfect “replacements” for all those retirement-age advisors.

Here’s a sampling of the reasons for a new hope that the next generation of advisors will be and do just fine. Mariel Braun of Texas A&M, when asked why she decided to get a degree in financial planning, told me she was interested in business and finance but also in “personal relationships: I wanted to help people.” Timi Joy Jorgensen of Utah Valley University said that as far as the advisory business goes, “there aren’t many professions where you get to use both hemispheres” of your brain. How great is that?

We chatted about robo-advisors, the T3 technology and FPA national conferences (they had attended both) and internships. As part of their “capstone” courses, both Braun and Jorgensen had worked with actual clients at financial planning firms. Braun said “figuring out the body language” of clients was interesting, while both said their interactions with older advisors had been rewarding—Jorgensen said they tended to be “excited” when talking to students.

There’s a good reason you should be excited about these students, but as Tom Nally of TD Ameritrade said to me at the Stock Exchange, “Aren’t these kids great! But we need more of them.”