Advisor Group, a network of independent broker-dealers, on Tuesday announced the results of a survey that asked college students how they viewed the financial services sector.

The study, conducted in conjunction with Texas Tech University, polled students in the school’s personal financial planning and economics divisions to identify their future career aspirations and preferences: which aspects of financial services were attractive to them, and what might deter them from entering the field.

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“If we are going to be successful in attracting the next generation to our industry, it is critical that we gain a better understanding of their perceptions and priorities,” Valerie Brown, Advisor Group’s executive chairman, said in a statement.

Several themes emerged from the students’ responses. For one, they prioritized purpose and innovation.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents said the ability to help people reach their life goals was the most attractive feature of the financial services industry, while 34% said the most attractive aspect was working in a dynamic and evolving industry. Thirty percent found the sector’s earning potential most appealing.

Forty-four percent of aspiring financial services professionals in the study said achieving certification was their top priority. However, many respondents also reported concerns about the sector.

Asked which aspects of financial services might prompt them to look for a career in different industry, the public’s perception of the industry loomed large, a concern of 40% of respondents.

In addition, 27% pointed to insufficient entry-level pay as a deterrent to joining the industry, and 21% expressed concern about its lack of diversity, especially with regard to gender inequity.

Researchers also asked what factor would ensure students’ long-term success in financial services. Thirty-one percent said completing necessary coursework, 28% access to a professional mentor and 25% continuing access to professional development opportunities.

Perhaps counterintuitively, half of students in the survey ranked technological advancements as the least important influence on their future career choices.

Brown said the study “confirms how highly the next generation views the importance of a career that has a higher purpose. While we all know that being a financial advisor is a noble profession, we need to do a better job driving awareness of this in the minds of the next generation.”

Texas Tech’s personal financial planning division offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral-level degrees.

Advisor Group noted that it had initially formed a relationship with the Texas Tech personal financial planning division last April as part of its Women Forward initiative to promote female advisors’ professional success through its mentorship, networking and educational offerings. The BD group made an infographic of its findings:

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