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Event Recap: Building Careers in Wealth Management - Traditional Careers

September Forum Recap - Building Careers in Wealth Management - Traditional Careers

For our September Forum, we hosted a panel of experts who shared tips and insights for those seeking a traditional wealth management career. Traditional careers are a part of the 12 Tribes of Financial Planning Model, created by Luke Dean, CFP®, Program Director at Utah Valley University; Nathan Harness, Ph.D., CFP®, Program Director at Texas A&M; Craig Lemoine, Ph.D., CFP®, Program Director at the University of Illinois and Martin Seay, Ph. D., CFP, Department Head at Kansas State University. These professors created the 12 Tribes to be a resource for students or young professionals looking for career direction within the industry.

Traditional careers usually entail working at broker dealers, wirehouses, or in life and disability insurance, and they are typically high risk/high reward. Meet our panelists:

  • Angela Brill | Panelist, President/Financial Advisor at Prosperity Advisors
  • Daniel Oh | Panelist, Senior Vice President and West Coast Market Leader at Lenox Advisors
  • Martin Seay | Moderator, Professor of Personal Financial Planning at Kansas State University and the co-author of The 12 Tribes of Financial Planning model
  • Valarie Vest | Panelist, Senior Vice President and Chief Experience Officer at Cambridge Investment Research

The panelists shared how they got introduced to the wealth management industry and offered advice for anyone trying to enter or advance in the field. If you couldn’t make it, we’ve recapped some of the main takeaways below.

How did you get involved in the wealth management industry?

Getting into the financial planning industry can be different for everyone. Our panelists each have unique journeys that led them into the financial planning industry. Daniel Oh, with 20 years of experience, was inspired by his parents’ financial struggles and aimed to control his destiny while helping others. Val, who has a background in economics, became an expert in 401(k)s and retirement planning, ascending through leadership roles and moving into marketing. Meanwhile, Martin’s early interest in finance was initially discouraged by his parents but ultimately became a significant part of his career path as a financial advisor. These diverse backgrounds and motivations contribute to their success in the industry, demonstrating the varied paths that can lead individuals into financial planning. 

“I was lost in college the semester before I found financial planning. I found myself in an academic advisor’s office that said, you know, you should look at financial planning. I went home and told my parents and they advised me not to because they believed all I would be doing was selling to my friends my whole career,” Martin said.

Angela started her career working at Fidelity and then took some time off from working to raise her children. In the meantime, she consulted for H&R Block. Once her kids were in school, she stepped back into her career where she was lucky enough to meet a fellow elementary school parent who was a financial advisor and the founder and CEO of Prosperity Advisors. Angela joined the team and worked her way up and 16 years later, she is now the President of Prosperity Advisors.

What advice do you have on how to get involved in the wealth management industry?

The financial services industry provides diverse career opportunities for college students and newcomers. Whether through specialized programs, team-based approaches, or entrepreneurial endeavors, there are various paths to success. It’s crucial for individuals to align their choices with their interests, goals, and preferences as the industry continues to evolve, offering new possibilities for growth and development.

For Angela, most of her hiring comes from personal financial planning programs. These are individuals who have already identified that they want to go down the financial planning path. In her program, mentees are mentored by a host of different advisors so they can learn from people with different skills and styles.

Daniel suggests asking the business you are applying to about their business goals and if you can see their business plan. This will help you understand what you are getting yourself into and shows the employer you’re truly interested in getting involved.

What should one consider when picking the right financial planning firm?

The panelists emphasized the importance of understanding a company’s culture, assessing one’s suitability for the job, considering turnover rates, and evaluating training and mentorship opportunities when starting as a young professional. They also highlight the significance of personal interactions and a company’s adaptability to change.

Understand what type of business the firm is doing,” said Daniel. He also suggests when interviewing with firms, ask for the opportunity to meet with some of the advisors. If you don’t see yourself being able to grab a bite to eat with them or receive tough love and advice from them, that firm might not be the right fit for you.

What do you wish people knew about financial planning and being an advisor?

The financial advice industry at its core is about helping people achieve financial wellness and security. The job encompasses a diverse range of skills and backgrounds, extending beyond traditional financial expertise. It’s not just about numbers, sales, finance, or marketing; rather, it welcomes individuals with various talents, such as coding, storytelling, videography, and product creation.

“It is all about helping people have financial wellness and security and it takes all different types of people,” said Valarie. “There’s all different types of roles in this industry and it’s how we come together. There is a place for everyone and everyone’s interests.”

One thing Daniel suggests is finding a place that suits your own strengths and goals. “Not all firms are the same, certain firms have different targeted markets, business models, support systems and the opportunity is huge but it is important to surround yourself in an environment where you have the best chance to succeed,” he said.

Martin noted that as the wealth management industry evolves, there is a huge shift in opportunities. “It used to be that if you wanted to move up in the industry at some point you had to be client-facing,” he said, “but now there are whole career paths for folks who want to work on the back end.”

As the financial advice industry continues to evolve and diversify, it’s essential for individuals to find a niche that aligns with their unique strengths and aspirations, allowing them to thrive in this dynamic field.

What are some ways to stand out as an applicant?

To distinguish oneself as an applicant without traditional finance experience or internships, candidates should focus on demonstrating their expertise and expressing their genuine interest in the specific internship they are applying for. Networking through platforms like LinkedIn and making connections through career fairs can also significantly enhance an applicant’s chances of success.

Be prepared to share your reason for why you want to work at that firm.“We have over 30 interns at Cambridge every single year, ” said Valarie. ” One thing I look for is if they have an interest in that background and I like to learn the why behind why they are interested in the internship and what has brought them there.”

“Try not to limit yourself to just a resume. While the resume is important, take advantage of every opportunity you have to go to career fairs and reach out via LinkedIn, because you would be surprised how many people got a job by having someone in the firm advocate for them,” said Angela.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of personal financial advisors is projected to grow 15% from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average outlook for other industries. As the field continues to diversify, individuals are encouraged to find their niche, align their choices with their interests and goals, and focus on personal interactions to succeed in this dynamic and rewarding industry. Whether you’re considering a career change or entering the industry straight out of college, the financial planning sector welcomes a wide range of talents and backgrounds, making it an exciting field for those passionate about helping others achieve financial wellness and security.

To watch the entire session, please click here. If you’re looking for an internship, check out the Careers tab on our website, and stay in touch with us to hear about upcoming events and opportunities! Dont miss out on our third and last forum in this series on the future section of the 12 models of financial planning, taking place on November 13!