The path to becoming a financial advisor wasn’t an easy one for Jenny Riveros.
Like many immigrants, the Colombian native and trained nurse left her country and came to the U.S. with minimal English and nothing much to her name. She was forced to work a number of service sector jobs just to make ends meet before ending up in the finance department of United Airlines in a job that she liked, even if something was still missing.
That something, says Riveros — now a financial planner at PlanPlus Inc. — was the human touch.
“The quest for the personal connection is what sent me back to school and into a financial planning degree program,” she says.
It was a huge step for Riveros, but one she really wanted to take, and once she’d embarked on her degree at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J., “I was amazed at all the opportunities that exist – the number of paid internships and the number of job offers that come into the college from companies looking to hire financial planning graduates.”
Riveros, who during her time at college served as the co-president of the Financial Planning Association’s (FPA) Student Chapter, landed her full-time job even before she’d graduated from college. She is one of a growing number of young Latina financial planners that are achieving great success in the field and, according to Lukas Dean, assistant professor of personal finance planning at Utah Valley University, are of increasing interest to financial advisory firms because “they are a great fit for the job.”
Dean, who’s at the forefront of building Utah Valley University’s financial planning degree programs, helped do the same from the ground up at William Paterson. Young Hispanic women have been the star performers in that program, he says, and he has made it a particular focus to target them when looking for candidates to join the program.
“They’re smart, hard working, dedicated and determined,” he says. “But more importantly for financial advisory firms, they have what it takes to be relationship oriented and they can be a huge asset to firms looking to serve the rapidly growing Hispanic market.”
According to Dean, women in general and minority women – Hispanic and African-American – are still sorely underrepresented in the advisory profession. “That’s why we make it a point to encourage young women from these communities to get into our programs,” he says.
Dean believes that Hispanic women are also more inclined to serve their community, and studies have shown that Hispanics prefer to work with advisors who have strong community ties, particularly since the community is still underserved by the financial planning industry.
The number of Hispanics in the U.S. continues to grow and their share of the national wealth is growing, but many still lag behind in terms of financial education and literacy. Hispanic women in particular are behind the curve: According to Prudential Financial’s “2014-2015 Financial Experience and Behaviors Among Women” study, Hispanic women lag other multicultural groups in confidence that they will achieve many key financial goals, even as they are playing a bigger role in financial decision making for their households.
As such, young Hispanic women are an important asset to financial advisory firms looking to better serve the Hispanic market. However, it’s also clear that firms recruiting today are also looking for the best young advisors that they can get to serve all segments of the market.
“I’m working with a very affluent clientele that is totally different from the kind of background I come from and the community I grew up with” in Ecuador, says Andrea Vintimilla, a financial advisor at Quadrant Capital in Fairfield, N.J. “But this profession is about building relationships and making connections and that’s always been important to me.”
The more young people — men and women — of different ethnic backgrounds go to college and graduate with degrees in financial planning, the more the advisory profession will change, Vintimilla says.
“The market that advisory firms are hiring from is very different today, and it’s going to continue to be more diverse as the ethnic composition of the population and the people doing degrees in financial planning changes,” she says.