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TD Ameritrade Endows Director of Financial Planning for Texas A&M

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In an effort to cultivate and grow the next generation of advisors, TD Ameritrade announced it would endow a director for Texas A&M University’s recently instated financial planning program.

The TD Ameritrade Director of Financial Planning will help advance the university’s financial planning program, which just recently launched with the help of a $25,000 emerging program grant from TD Ameritrade awarded in July.

“We have helped them secure Nathan Harness as their director of financial planning,” said Kate Healy, managing director of institutional marketing at TD Ameritrade Institutional, during a visit to ThinkAdvisor’s New York office on Wednesday morning. “They’re really making a huge commitment.”

Harness is currently an assistant professor of finance at TAMU-Commerce. In addition to having a doctorate in personal financial planning from Texas Tech University, Harness has previously worked as a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley and American Express Advisors and has been a professor at Texas A&M since 2008.

“[Texas A&M] is one of the largest public universities in the United States, and if you think about the gravitas that they bring to the financial planning profession,” Healy told ThinkAdvisor. “Just the brand itself of Texas A&M really helps launch financial planning as a career into a much bigger space.”

While the university currently has a CFP Board-registered financial planning certificate program, the $25,000 grant allows the university to launch an undergraduate academic program that would allow students to earn a bachelor’s degree with a specialization in financial planning within the next 12 to 15 months.

Another thing that attracted TD Ameritrade to Texas A&M is their focus on diversifying the financial planning field.

“One of the things that they’re doing as they launch their program is targeting specifically women and minorities,” Healy said. “They’re looking specifically to launch programs that are going to help bring more women and diverse folks into the profession.”

Another new initiative TD Ameritrade will launch in December is an RIA Career Center, which will be a free resource for both students looking for jobs and RIAs looking for new employees. Healy said students will be able to post their resumes and search jobs, while RIAs can post open positions and internships.

TD Ameritrade has a history of initiatives to help encourage the next generation of advisors. In addition to its emerging program grant, it also gives an established program a $50,000 grant and 10 students a $5,000 scholarship each year. And, now, Tom Nally told ThinkAdvisor, the TD Ameritrade Director of Financial Planning at Texas A&M  can help “lead the efforts for the school there.”

“We’re trying to encourage schools to focus on [the next generation] and give them a little bit of oil to grease the wheel, let’s say,” said Nally, who is president of TDAI.

Earlier this year, TD Ameritrade launched an industrywide internship program.

“As we talked to a lot of the younger folks that were joining the industry, especially our scholarship winners, what we found was they really love the idea of the [financial planning] space but they were really nervous about joining a smaller firm,” Nally said. “They felt that they needed to go work for a big company because that would provide them with greater career opportunities, more learning experiences. We saw a gap there and we wanted to try and encourage students and advisors to get together early on in the educational process and become interns.”

Rather than “fetching coffee and doing photocopies,” as Nally said, “we wanted to make sure that they had a really robust learning experience that was beneficial to both parties.”

TD Ameritrade provides advisors with an “A-Z roadmap” that includes information on where to find students, how much to pay them and a full curriculum, Nally said.

Healy added that more than 500 advisors were engaged with the program in some way – between guidebooks, webinars and a LinkedIn community created by TD Ameritrade.

— Check out 10 Job Skills Employers Want From College Grads on ThinkAdvisor.