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Bridging the Gap to the Next Generation

On many modern dating apps, “swiping right” means you like someone.

Kate Healy, TD Ameritrade Institutional’s managing director of generation next, said financial planning is a “swipe-right” career.

Despite being a high demand, lucrative career with excellent prospects, though, financial planning still faces challenges attracting young professionals, Healy said at a session at the FPA Annual Conference in Minneapolis in October.

For TD Ameritrade Institutional, generation next is not just about millennials and Gen Z—it’s anybody who is not yet in the financial planning profession—young people, students, career changers. It’s about including more people from various racial and ethnic backgrounds, as well as people who bring diversity of thought. And we need to reach all these groups to help serve the 75 percent of Americans not getting financial advice, now and for years to come.

In the December issue of the Journal of Financial Planning, we outlined four key takeaways from research TD Ameritrade Institutional recently conducted and presented at FPA Annual Conference, and we promised you more specific information from TD Ameritrade Institutional on how to better reach and recruit the next generation.

Just to recap, the four key takeaways are: (1) firms need to do more to find, recruit and develop new talent; (2) advisers are hiring, but only half are actively recruiting the next generation of younger and more diverse talent into their firms; (3) advisers are looking for more than math skills; and (4) diversity is lacking in the profession.

Now, here are those specific ways TD Ameritrade Institutional suggests that financial planners can address these issues and reach the next generation we promised:

1.) Boost awareness about this profession.

People can’t be what they can’t see or don’t know about. Talk to your clients’ kids about what you do. Connect with local high schools and guidance counselors. Volunteer at Boys and Girls Clubs, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and participate in career days at your kids’ or nieces’ and nephews’ schools.

“It’s important to talk about what you do wherever you can,” Healy said.

2.) Expand recruiting efforts.

Think outside the box when it comes to recruiting. Stop poaching talent from one another and start looking for career-changers who may be coming from teaching or social work, Healy said.

Specific things to do include revising your job descriptions to be gender neutral. Healy said that men apply for jobs they meet 60 percent of the requirements for while women wait until they meet 80 percent or more of the requirements. There are resources available for you to run your job descriptions through in order to determine whether it’s masculine-coded (which might subconsciously deter women from applying) or feminine-coded. Here is one site where you can analyze your job descriptions that offers a list of alternative words to use to make the ad more gender-neutral.

Also, look to veterans for your next employees. Healy noted that TD Ameritrade has a section on their job applications that encourages veterans by stating, “Military experience may be substituted in lieu of education and/or experience.” They want veterans to just call them if they feel they might be a good fit but maybe don’t meet all the requirements on the job description.

3.) Get to know and work with your local university program directors.

When Healy asked the audience how many of them have already connected with local university CFP Board registered program directors, only one person raised their hand.

“That is one of the best ways to get your pipeline of talent,” Healy noted.

She recommended you connect with local university program directors, offer to serve as mentors to their students and develop internship programs for the students. TD Ameritrade Institutional has resources on how to create an internship program.

4.) Become a mentor.

Become a mentor—not just for your local university program—but for younger professionals and those new to the profession.

“Mentorships are pretty important,” Healy said. “I wouldn’t be where I am without mentorship. Developing people isn’t easy, but it’s a really fulfilling part of all of our jobs.”

5.) Create a culture of learning and promote development opportunities in your firm.

There are many misconceptions about younger generations, specifically millennials. They’re not disloyal job-hoppers, as the consumer media would paint them to be. Rather, they’re pretty loyal to employers so long as they know what their career path is.

“They need to know how they’re going to get to the next level,” Healy said.

Creating opportunities for your new employees—whether it be younger or career-changer employees—to learn experientially and offer them opportunities to give feedback helps with retention.

6.) Introduce diversity hiring programs.

Healy noted putting together a solid diversity hiring program includes being intentional and getting training, such as unconscious bias training.

“Sometimes we don’t realize what we’re doing or saying,” Healy said, noting that results from such assessments will help identify things that might make the workplace a less-than-ideal place for diverse employees.

She also suggested planners listen to the 2050 TrailBlazers podcast (or you can read recaps of select episodes right on this blog, like this most recent one).

Lastly, she noted learning about different cultures to develop more empathy toward others’ situations. Diverse employees beget diverse employees because, she noted, “Seeing is believing. You can’t be what you don’t see.”

“This is a group effort,” Healy said. “We need everybody to talk about what it’s like to be a financial adviser and bring more people into this profession.”

Last tip: emphasize the profession’s selling points. Those include it being about serving clients better, helping others and personal fulfillment.

Ana TL Headshot_Cropped

Ana Trujillo Limón is senior editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the FPA Next Generation Planner. She also edits the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org, or connect with her on LinkedIn


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Map to the Next Generation of Financial Planners

Financial planning is a desirable career. But the next generation might not know it yet.

“It’s a desirable position for people coming out of college because it commands a high wage,” said Kyle Kensing, online content editor at the jobs site CareerCast.com in a CNBC article.

In the May 2019 Financial Planning article, “Daunting but Doable: How to Get Students to Consider a Planning Career,” Bob Veres offered planners and educators ideas for how to let the next generation of planners in on the secret.

Connect with local high school guidance counselors. Guidance counselors are oftentimes where students get ideas as to what they want to do with the rest of their lives. “They wield lots of influence over graduating seniors’ area of study selection, and right now, most of them are not clear on what financial planning is,” Caleb Brown, CFP®, told Veres and Financial Planning.

Perhaps your local FPA chapter can connect with guidance counselors and make them aware of the profession, point them to schools with CFP Board registered programs, and then identify the benefits of a career in financial planning.

Connect with alumni associations. Offer to speak to business students at your alma mater about financial planning. With your alumni association, you can also work toward helping to establish a financial planning program, Veres reported.

Offer scholarships or internships. It’s a tough world out there for recruiting talented individuals. Many professions are competing for the same brilliant minds, but you can be first on their list of where to work by offering students scholarships to take the CFP® examination or to pay for books.

Also, post internships and have students work in your firm for a summer. Multiple publications and financial planning podcasts note the importance of mentoring to retain next-generation and diverse talent in the profession.

Which leads us to the last tip:

Mentor new planners or seek a mentor if you are the new planner. It’s difficult to find time in your busy schedules, but helping the next generation navigate the profession could help retain talent coming in.

And if you are the new talent, finding a mentor is key. But do your research. When you reach out to somebody to pick their brain or ask them to meet to discuss something, do your homework: listen to podcasts they’ve been interviewed on or read articles they’ve written or been quoted in, said Rianka Dorsainvil, CFP®, in a recent episode of the 2050 TrailBlazers podcast.

Also, respect their time. If you schedule a meeting with them and need to cancel, give them at least a day’s notice. If you have been a product of an influential mentorship, pay it forward. Mentor other people coming up in the same way you were mentored.

Ana TL Headshot_Cropped

Ana Trujillo Limón is senior editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the FPA Next Generation Planner. She also edits the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org, or connect with her on LinkedIn


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What You Should Know Before Leaving Your Firm

When it comes to leaving your firm, there are certain things every planner must know to avoid making mistakes that could have a negative impact on their career. It’s a topic that affects almost every financial planner, but is rarely, if ever, talked about in a public way. Let’s dig into what you need to know, including how it’ll affect your next steps when you make your exit.

Know the Repercussions of Your Actions

When you accept a position with a firm, you’ll most likely be asked to sign documents like confidentiality, non-solicitation and non-compete clauses. While it’s easy to write these documents off as “new employee paperwork,” you must understand that these are legal documents that can come back to haunt you later.

Here are some best practices for handling that paperwork:

  • Make copies of your paperwork. After you give your notice and have one foot out the door, it can be awkward to make requests of your soon-to-be ex-employer. You can avoid this by making copies at the beginning of your employment and filing them away for safekeeping.
  • Understand what you’re signing. If you’re going to sign a contract, it’s good practice to have it reviewed by a legal professional, so you know what your liabilities are. As a new planner or someone transferring firms, you don’t always know what to look for when reading a legal document. In general, you want to find out who owns the client, who can contact the client and what will happen if you take your client with you to your new firm.
  • Read the fine print. Some firms have contracts that require you to give a lengthy notice period. If you’re starting a new firm and think you’ll be able to hit the ground running two weeks after you give notice at current firm, you might find that you have to stay for another 30 days.

For more information about this topic, check out “What Did I Sign Up For?! Understanding Non-Solicit and Non-Compete Agreements” in the June issue of the FPA Next Generation Planner.

Plan Your Exit Well in Advance

Right now, you might not think that you ever want to leave your current firm. But there may come a time when you feel ready to start your own practice. In that case, it’s helpful to understand what it takes to make a smooth transition. Think of as many aspects as you can and how you’ll deal with them if that time comes.

  • Be ready for the unexpected. You might give your two-week notice and get escorted out immediately. If this happens, you could lose access to your contacts, emails and files. If you prepare in advance, you may be able to retain some of your clients, so you don’t have to start a new book of business from scratch.
  • Pay attention when others leave. Odds are, the way your firm’s management reacts to your co-workers when they head out the door is the same way you’ll be treated. This will help you prepare when it’s your turn.
  • Keep your plans to yourself. If, in your excitement, you tell a client about your plan to start a new firm, you could be in violation of a non-solicit agreement. This would leave you open to legal action and also burn bridges with your old employer, which is the last thing you want to do when already dealing with the stress of starting a new business.
  • Use your work computer for work only. When you leave the firm, any personal information you have on your computer or in your email will be taken from you and archived at the firm. Plus, if you start forwarding a bunch of work email to your personal account, it will set off alarm bells with compliance.
  • Understand how your products work. Some firms use products that are exclusive to them. These proprietary investments or funds can lock your clients in and getting out of them can bring significant fees. If your clients are using these products, you can’t service them properly and it makes it difficult for them to transition with you to your new firm.
  • Make connections before you leave. If you have co-workers you’d like to stay in touch with, either send them a note on your last day or reach out to them on LinkedIn. Making these connections before you move on is much easier because you still have access to their contact information.
  • Plan ahead. Of course, it depends on your employer and its work culture, but the general consensus is that you’ll want at least three to six months of preparation before you pull the trigger. That way you have time to prepare and figure out how (and when) you want to announce your departure.

Consider Your Exit Interview Strategy

When your last day on the job arrives, you may be asked by the firm to conduct an exit interview. Some planners may think that this is an opportunity to air their grievances, but you should understand that your exit interview will be archived and what you say could follow you for a long time. While you may think that burning bridges isn’t a big deal, remember that this industry is still pretty small. If a future employer called your firm asking if they would recommend you, you may find that your future job prospects are limited.

You Will Rebound

No matter how you leave your firm—whether it’s on your terms or theirs—know that you can rebound from it. Even if your exit leaves a sour taste in your mouth, remember that your clients are the most important thing. You can take comfort in the fact that all the training and experience you’ve earned in your career will stay with you. You are a better adviser for it and can use what you’ve learned to help your clients, no matter where you go. After making the transition to a new firm, you’ll find the next one to be much easier.

August Cover

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the August 2019 issue of the FPA Next Generation Planner, an app publication that provides helpful and relevant content specifically for NexGen planners. Download the app in the Apple App or Google Play store.

Sarah Li Cain

Sarah Li Cain is a freelance personal finance writer. Connect with her on LinkedIn.