“Firms are really waking up to the fact that they need to have a more diverse work force in order to attract the next generation of clients,” Kate Healy, managing director of institutional marketing at TD Ameritrade Institutional, said on Thursday. “Tom [Nally] talked this morning about the millennials being much more diverse than any other generation, and I think firms are really starting to see it.”
Healy said TD is working to find ways for firms to connect with students, including internship and scholarship programs. The firm announced Thursday that it’s adding to scholarships that focus on women and people of color to bring the total number of scholarships on offer to 12.
Part of the problem is that young people just don’t know these jobs are out there, according to Vanessa Oligino, product manager of practice management at TD. To millennials, the financial services industry is as esoteric as professional beekeepers or acrobats. “A colleague of mine is engaged to a master mason. What is that, right?”
Finance students are being pushed toward investment banking, consulting firms and big banks, Oligino said. “Those are the careers that everybody knows about, but I think there are some other interesting careers, such as becoming an RIA, and they just don’t know about them.”
To help advisors reach out to students, TD put together guidebooks and resources on starting an internship program, including how to develop a relationship with schools that offer a financial planning program.
“The second part of that module is how do you hire the right people? What are the interview skills that you need and how do you craft that internship program — we understand that advisory firms don’t have human resources departments to do all this for them, so it’s kind of this internship-in-a-box — and how to transition that person to a full-time employee if that’s the way you want to go,” Healy said.
Healy’s group also created a closed LinkedIn group specifically for the young advisors and students considering the career to network. “We found they were a little wary about going into some of these smaller firms, to make sure that they had succession planning in place, that there would be career development for them,” Healy said.
The image of millennials as lazy or entitled is a “misperception,” Healy said. “They want to do the work, they just want to know that the work is going to lead somewhere.”
Advisors should also start looking for qualified candidates in adjacent industries. “I do think that career changers is an area that we need to start to focus on,” Healy said.
She noted that some firms have already started to look outside financial services for talent, but there needs to be a spotlight on those success stories. “The biggest challenge is if I’m a career changer, I don’t have a book of business,” so firms are a little reluctant to look there for new talent, she said.
Even so, Healy said firms shouldn’t shy away from recruiting from outside the financial services industry. “Firms have done it,” she said, sometimes putting new hires in other parts of the business while they get comfortable with the industry and their new role.
“We need to start telling those stories,” she said. She described one advisor she spoke with who said brought in a couple of women from different industries, “one was in a different part of the business and after her divorce came in and worked full time.” Another joined the firm after selling her own business.
Healy said teachers are ideal candidates to join a financial services firm. “There’s so much of teaching involved in financial planning if you’re really giving advice and doing a holistic look at their financial picture. Teachers have a great way of explaining things to make people understand.”
Social workers are an ideal source for recruiting as well because they tend to want to help people but may be emotionally burnt out on their current work, Healy said. “This is a really fantastic way to help people and it’s helping them financially, which, quite frankly, really helps their well-being down the road.”
To help advisors find new candidates, whether they’re career changers or financial planning students, TD created the Career Exchange, an online job board where candidates can post resumes and firms can post job listings for free.
Healy said using a team approach really works well to help integrate new advisors into the business. “When you bring someone in as part of a team, they’re learning a lot just by watching the advisor,” she said. It’s also helpful for clients to see that if something happens, their portfolio is still being managed by people they know and have worked with.
Using a team of advisors can also bring perspective and diversity to the client relationship. “Clients want the gravitas and the experience of an older advisor who has gone through a few market cycles,” Healy said, “but they really want someone who’s more like them, that understands their situation, whether that’s from an age perspective, an ethnicity perspective or a gender perspective.”