Purposeful Recruitment for the Future of Our Profession

Sep 26, 2017


If you recall from my last blog, we’re switching our focus over the next few posts to talk about millennial advisors. Our industry tends to apply much of our attention on the millennial investor, and how the financial services industry can effectively engage and interact with this next generation of consumer. Don’t get me wrong: with advisors’ aging client base of primarily Baby Boomers, this is definitely a crucial issue that we need to address. However, it’s equally as important that we address the need to proactively recruit and retain millennial advisors. Because without new, young talent, the financial planning profession cannot sustain over the long-term… let alone serve the next generation of investors.

So in an effort to understand how we can best engage millennial advisors, the SEI Advisor Network surveyed nearly 300 millennial advisors, ranging from ages 21 – 36. Over the next couple months, I hope to take you through some of our key findings and draw meaningful conclusions about what we can do to help address this issue for the future of financial advice. This week, I’ll keep the focus on the early development of financial advisors. Namely what we should do to develop potential advisors straight out of college, as well as recruit them earlier in their career. 

Our research shows 20% of the millennial advisors became advisors by chance. Click To Tweet

A happy mistake, but an unfortunate statistic

It pains me that nearly 20% of the millennial advisors surveyed landed in this profession by chance, they never had any interest or aspirations to pursue a career in financial advice. This should be an indication to us that we should do a better job of marketing financial planning as an attractive potential career track. I believe our research indicates that we should heavily focus that marketing and recruiting on potential advisors during their college years. According to our research, the majority (nearly 30%) of young advisors figured out during their college years that they wanted to become a financial advisor. So it would appear that’s the most effective time for our industry to attract and develop young talent. This could be the key to turning around that first unfortunate statistic. If we’re able to catch these young students when they’re still pondering “What do I want to be when I grow up?” then we might have the opportunity to affect their course and internship choices.


Too often the focus in college is on specific subject areas, and students are tasked with picking a field of study based on where they think they can do well or what they think sounds interesting. Finance is a subject area, it’s not necessarily presented to students as one with many potential career opportunities. So guess what? If a students do not have a natural knack for math, aren’t interested in the stock market – even though there’s way more to finance than those two things – they’re probably not going to choose to pursue a finance degree. This is where we, as an industry, can be more proactive in making students aware of the financial planning profession. We need to make them aware that this career encompasses much more than just numbers and data – there are other potential opportunities to develop entrepreneurial-like skills in sales, marketing, and business management.

This is something that could be addressed at a macro-level through the efforts of schools and other finance industry giants like we see at Texas Tech University with its financial planning programs. However, it’s also something that could be addressed at a micro-level by individual professors and advisors. It just takes one mentor, or one opportunity to change a student’s entire career track. Take Steph James, a financial advisor with Wescott Financial Advisory Group LLC, for instance. As a young student at St. Joseph’s University, she had no intention of becoming a financial advisor. It just wasn’t on her radar. Then one professor made her aware of financial advice as a potential profession. That, combined with her firm’s recruiting efforts at the local university, is what changed the course of her career.

They want to be planners – so help them become planners

An overwhelming majority of the millennial advisors in our survey see themselves as, or want to be seen as, financial planners or comprehensive wealth managers (someone who covers both investment and financial planning advice.) If that’s the type of advisor many of these millennials aspire to be, many of them will want more than insurance or investment licenses in order to practice. They’ll want to have more substantial credentials – to become better established in their roles, more quickly. Though there are many certifications or designations that support a career of providing financial planning advice, the CFP was the industry’s first big attempt to establish an educational program specifically geared toward financial planners. The CFP board’s recent marketing campaign raised awareness in the general public, and it’s something investors will look for when searching for a financial advisor. Designations like these, not only substantiate the young advisor in their role, but can also add value to your firm to be able to say that you have a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ in-house.


Again, supporting young advisors in acquiring financial planning education and certifications is something that can be supported both at a macro-level, as well as micro-level. It would be ideal if more schools offered an education track that works toward completing the CFP education requirements parallel to graduation timeline. However, individual advisors can also look to attract young talent by supporting them in acquiring these types of designations. For example, you can map out a long-term career track at the firm for incoming advisors, which includes support toward acquiring their CFP certification. That could mean time set aside at the office to study, support in sourcing financial aid or scholarships, or monetary support to reimburse education costs if they pass the exam. Alternatively, if you’re looking for someone who already has paid for and completed their CFP education, then perhaps consider reimbursing them for the education costs as a part of their signing bonus.

Do your part for the greater good

We’re all in this together and have a vetted interest in developing young talent to pump new blood into our industry for the future of the financial planning profession. Our research shows that the key is focusing in on students earlier in their career development. Even though there are some macro-level issues that need to be addressed within our industry and at schools. Regardless, advisors should play a role in furthering this effort. Whether that’s through becoming a mentor to a college student, offering to do a workshop at a local university, offering an internship program within your community, or developing a full-fledged career track for young advisors – we can all play a part.

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Missy Pohlig

Missy Pohlig

Missy Pohlig is the millennial contributor for Practically Speaking and also serves as Program Manager for the Solutions Team in the SEI Advisor Network.

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