Calls for financial literacy programs in high schools aren’t just for the benefit of a more informed consumer base. For Laurie Belew, 2016 chair of the FPA NexGen community, those programs are another avenue for young advisors to enter the profession.
“People want to be a doctor because they have an experience with their doctor,” she said. “It’s not like a junior high student is going to meet with a financial advisor.”
That early introduction is especially important when many financial planning undergraduate programs aren’t part of the business schools, according to Belew. “People have an interest in finance and naturally — I did — think, ‘Well, I need to go to business school.’ Sometimes even when you get there, you don’t learn about this whole other area of how to help people with their money.”
The industry is becoming more receptive to younger advisors, Belew said. “Just in the last 10 years since I’ve been in the industry, the conversation has really changed from ‘What do we do with these people?’ for lack of a better word, to ‘How can we make this a career for people who are interested?’”
Advisors are still asking where to look for talented young advisors, but Belew said the new question is “‘How can I engage and challenge younger advisors and really give them a career?’”
To that end, FPA NexGen focuses on engaging with local communities of advisors. NexGen was founded as a national organization that would bring advisors “together occasionally at conferences,” Belew said. However, “As we’ve grown through grassroots efforts, people are looking to connect on a regular basis in their local communities, so we’re trying to support those efforts.”
Belew noted that “every community is different, but as much as we can help them structure and help them overcome challenges, we’re trying to position ourselves to be a great resource for them in that regard.”
Conferences are still a major part of FPA’s outreach, and the NexGen Gathering conference has “grown by leaps and bounds” over the past three years, Belew said.