More than just finance: How can you attract young people to the business of advice?

Every August, I’m reminded of my dad’s all-time favorite commercial. As we wrapped up our last week at the beach, packing up the towels and chairs, we’d hear Andy Williams on the TV, singing “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” In the commercial, a delighted father is seen prancing through store aisles, loading his cart full of school supplies as his two children drag on behind him. “They’re going back!” the voiceover would say – a chorus my dad would immediately repeat.

Like the father in the commercial, you may also be preparing to send your children back to school or saying goodbye to summer interns who have been with you since June. As our firm’s summer internship class left, it prompted me to think: What did I give them to take back to school? After all, most of them do not go to universities with a financial planning program. I continued to ask myself – after spending a summer with me, whose primary responsibility is geared toward coaching financial advisors, what information did I impart on my finance and accounting majors?

Every year, it occurs to me that when I was in high school and college, I didn’t know my job existed.

I am reminded of how important it is to get out there and talk about our industry. Despite what most young people think, finance is about more than going into investment banking or working for a major global accounting firm.

The wealth (pun intended) of opportunity in our business goes beyond traditional banking roles. Part of your role as an advisor is to be an educator – that can include educating the next generation on the opportunities of your profession.

Here are a few things I wish a financial advisor would have told my younger self:

  1. Share your own story. I’m sure you don’t have to look further than your own office to see the different backgrounds and experiences of the people who now call themselves financial advisors. How did they get there? How did you get where you are? And why do you stay?
  2. Engage with educators in your community. At the all-girls high school I attended, we never had a financial advisor at Career Day. I wonder what my path in the finance industry would have been if someone had come in and said, “I’m a financial advisor. My goal every day is to help people plan for their future and give them the tools they’ll need to get there.”
  3. Have an open house at your firm. Invite local students to visit your firm for the day to see how your office operates. Who works in your office? What roles do they each play in the planning process? How do they contribute to the client experience? Show young people that whether they’re total techies who love Excel or social butterflies who would thrive on welcoming clients in every day, there are places for every personality in your firm.

Now, as the “most wonderful time of the year” (back to school) is upon us, I challenge you to keep some of these ideas in mind, and don’t lose sight of your role as an educator, especially to that next generation.


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