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Financial Planning > Behavioral Finance

How to Help Educate Tomorrow's Planner

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The financial planning profession enters this new decade at a pivotal and exciting time in its relatively short history. With massive productivity gains via technology enhancements and other innovative advancements, record mergers and acquisitions activity, diversity and inclusion finally getting the attention and activity it deserves, the industry is becoming well positioned to solidify its standing as the premier profession for the decades to come.

To illustrate this, I want to share a story about Annabelle Sanko from Kansas State University, who is going to help us get there.

Annabelle is the winner of the inaugural New Planner Recruiting Tuition Reimbursement Scholarship program. The selection committee, made up of Geof Brown, CEO of NAPFA, Michael Kitces, founder of and XYPN, and myself, were pleased to award her $3,000 towards the cost of her journey to becoming a certified financial planner.

When Annabelle was growing up, she saw firsthand how financial stress can impact a family. Her mother and father often argued over money and she found herself constantly asking her parents if they were going to be okay.

Sometimes it got so bad that they had to seek help from family members to cover basic living expenses that eventually caused her parents to split up. She knew from that day forward that she didn’t want to experience money anxieties.

Her mother remarried and her adoptive father was an alumnus of KSU in Manhattan, Kansas. Originally from Nebraska, Annabelle was skeptical about KSU at first, but she went on a campus visit and fell in love with the school. She met with a business school advisor who attempted to steer her away from financial planning to focus exclusively on business. We are thankful that she found a compromise and is double majoring in business and financial planning.

From research, Annabelle found that KSU was well respected in the financial planning profession and had a high job placement rate. Today, she looks forward to starting her career as a financial planner. She has already committed to a study abroad program for the summer of 2020. That said, she is seeking an internship for the summer of 2021 and a permanent full-time opportunity at the culmination of her degree program May 2022. She prefers to start her career in a fee-only RIA where she can learn the administrative and planning components of the business.

She says she has already learned so much about the profession in just a few financial planning classes with a handful more to take, but really appreciates learning from the professors who have industry experience.

Clarifying the Message

When I asked her to give me her thoughts on the profession, she responded that attempting to achieve a universal fiduciary standard was a good thing so the various business models would stop squabbling and clients won’t be confused. In my daily work of interviewing entry level planners, few have this solid a grasp on industry issues. Other trends she sees are that firms will continue to move towards digital, but she did not think technology, AI, etc. would replace humans in the advice delivery function.

Annabelle also recommends that her generation of financial planners and peer group set goals and work towards them with laser-like focus by being structured with their time. She knows what she’s talking about as she is taking 18 hours of classes and working two jobs.

Finally, she pushes aspiring planners to get involved, but don’t say “yes” to everything. Also, seek out mentors — the more the better because they are advocates and help pick you up when you fall. Well said, Annabelle, welcome to our profession — we are glad to have you!

Caleb Brown is a past chairman of FPA NextGen and partner in New Planner Recruiting LLC. He can be reached at


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