Late in 2017, Advisor Group surveyed students enrolled in Texas Tech’s Personal Financial Planning and Economics divisions about their perception of the financial services sector; this week, the firm has published the results in a report that highlights best practices and strategies to promote successful recruiting.
Advisor Group is a network of independent financial advisory firms including of FSC Securities Corporation, Royal Alliance Associates, SagePoint Financial and Woodbury Financial Services. The collective says it chose to work with Texas Tech University on this effort because the school is “one of the nation’s leading comprehensive public research universities and home to what’s been described as arguably the best undergraduate financial planning program in the country.”
Survey questions were aimed at identifying young professionals’ future career aspirations and preferences, including the aspects of financial services they consider most attractive. Researchers also asked about the common barriers that may deter young people from entering the field.
According to survey results, four in ten students studying to enter the field expressed concerns about broader negative perceptions surrounding the industry. The students warn that these perceptions have likely steered some of their peers away from the profession. Related to this, many students in the field say they will prioritize “purpose and innovation” as key aspects of their future work as advisers. Respondents further identified the “ability to help others” and “being a part of a dynamic industry” as more important than their compensation package.
Respondents believe that access to a professional mentor is almost as important as completing necessary coursework at college, survey results show. Interestingly, while the existing industry leadership often views greater use of technology relative to peer organizations as a major hiring incentive for young advisers, fully 50% of respondents ranked technological advancements as the least important factor informing their future career choices. Again, access to mentoring and a meaningful career trajectory are viewed as much more important.
“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,” warns Advisor Group Executive Chairman Valerie Brown. “While we all know as insiders that being a financial adviser is a noble profession, we need to do a better job driving awareness of this in the minds of the next generation.”
Researchers point to a number of ways advisers already working in the field can “get involved and make a difference” when it comes to boosting the broader perception of the industry. For example, advisers may consider volunteering at career days and similar events in high schools—or become a mentor for students in their local college’s financial planning degree program. As an outgrowth of such work, firms might even consider creating an internship program, giving college or high school students the chance to experience how the firm works with clients, solve challenges, and build a book of business.
Researchers further encourage advisers to get involved in their local communities in other ways: “Young people and families, particularly in disadvantaged communities, can benefit from your expertise.” Advisers might consider teaching a course on money management or related topics through a local nonprofit organization, such as Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Junior Achievement, Kiwanis, or Rotary.
“One of the major challenges is that financial planning isn’t recognized as a first-choice degree or career option by many students,” concludes Dr. Chris Browning, a Texas Tech professor and co-creator of the Texas Tech Financial Planning Academy. “Our idea is to expose kids to financial planning at a younger age.”
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