Aug 21, 2018

The great group of interns who taught me A LOT this summer

This summer I had an amazing opportunity to work with and coach a group of interns. On a personal note, I enjoy working with interns because it keeps me in touch with my fellow (albeit MUCH younger) millennials. It’s also an opportunity to give back some of the life lessons that were passed down to me along the way. One of the most rewarding parts of working with our interns is the annual case study they must complete during their summer here. The reward comes not so much from the coaching, but the knowledge and perspective I gain from working with them. There are countless articles about the importance of hiring summer interns – injection of youth into the office, opportunity to delegate administrative tasks, cost savings, etc. As it relates to financial services, interns provide you (the financial advisor) an opportunity to coach to a younger generation, but it also gives you the opportunity to do some business planning “soul searching.”

If you’re committed to the idea of incorporating the millennial generation into your workforce– not just as a junior advisor, but as a business partner – it may not be as simple as creating an ad in the paper with the headline “Attention all millennials, we are hiring”. The process may actually begin with… you guessed it, summer interns. I’ve learned over the years that the phrase “intern” isn’t what it used to be. Long gone are the days of hiring an intern whose sole duty is to file away papers. Interns today expect more from their work experience than just mundane tasks, and aren’t hesitant to provide the honesty and candor that forces employers to provide a challenging and engaging summer experience. I actually dealt with this head on during a recent discussion with a summer intern about career development. Here is a summary of our conversation:

Eddie (Intern): Hey Brian, I have a couple of questions for you about your career and how you got into what you’re doing. Do you have a couple of minutes?

Me: Of course, fire away

Eddie: What got you into the business of working with financial advisors? How has the industry changed over the years? Also, why have you stayed at the same company for 14 years?

Me: (mood) Whoa…

These three questions really forced me to take a step back and think about my entire career. Eddie didn’t just ask questions about what I was doing, he wanted insight and perspective on why I was doing it. It almost felt like I was being interviewed!

If I were a financial advisor, I’d be elated by these questions, because it would give me the opportunity to share and also gain insight to Eddie’s views of the financial planning profession. I would immediately pose questions back to Eddie – what do you currently know about being a financial advisor? Would having a financial advisor be of value to you when you graduate? I would take his responses and consider how millennial candidates view my firm and the financial planning profession as a whole. It would also help me understand what changes in the industry that have occurred, but I may have missed. This simple conversation is just one example of how interns can have a significant impact on:

  1. The way you evolve your business (i.e. broadening your services to include this growing wage earning population) and
  2. How you evaluate your pipeline talent (i.e. finding the right succession plan/business partner early.)

Every year I’m amazed at what these young and bright individuals teach me, are you open to having the same experience? #Internsmatter

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