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Symposium Spotlight: Q&A with Sophia Buffalini, a Financial Planning and Financial Management Student

Sophia Buffalini, a Financial Planning and Financial Management Student

As we gear up for our upcoming Symposium, we had the pleasure of engaging with Sophia Buffalini, a dedicated student specializing in Financial Planning and Financial Management at The University of Akron. Sophia shares her unique perspective as a student on navigating the complexities of the wealth management industry. Notably, she will be featured alongside Jesse Hurst, the founder of Impel Wealth Management, in a captivating spotlight during the Symposium.

Mark your calendars for this year’s Symposium, scheduled for Thursday, February 8. This immersive experience will be accessible both virtually and in person at The University of Akron’s Student Union Ballroom. For virtual attendees, the event kicks off at noon and runs until 3:30 pm ET, while in-person proceedings commence at 11:30 am ET. Whether you opt for virtual participation or choose to be present in person, anticipate a vibrant celebration that spotlights the diverse talents and promising opportunities within the dynamic realm of wealth management. Ensure your spot by registering now – it’s free!

What are the major opportunities you see for young professionals entering the wealth management industry?

The wealth management industry offers abundant opportunities for the next generation entering the field. The demand for professional financial advice is growing, and this presents a great chance for young professionals to build successful careers in wealth management and serve this growing market.

I believe that there is a need for fresh perspectives, diversity, and innovative approaches in the industry. Young professionals often bring new ideas and technological savvy to the table, which can help firms adapt to changing dynamics and attract younger clients. With advancements in digital platforms and investment services, I am confident that the next generation of workers is well-positioned to drive the adoption of these technologies.

Further than this, the industry is facing a wave of retirements, creating a talent gap that needs to be filled. I believe that, as young professionals, we have the opportunity to leverage this situation by entering the industry and working with professionals looking to mentor the next generation of leaders. With a growing demand for wealth management services, firms are willing to invest in young professionals and provide them with the necessary training and development opportunities to succeed. Needless to say, the industry is thriving, and there is room for us to make a significant impact in the coming years. I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead and the potential for a successful and fulfilling career in wealth management.

What characteristics or traits do you commonly see among successful professionals in financial planning?

In the wealth management space, successful professionals possess several essential characteristics. Adaptability is their foremost quality. These individuals effortlessly adjust their strategies and plans in response to the ever-changing financial landscape and client circumstances. Alongside this, a thirst for knowledge is critical. In an ever-evolving environment, successful professionals stay updated and attuned to industry trends, technology, regulations, and emerging financial products. Furthermore, it is crucial for these professionals to connect with the next generation of diverse talent and engage in ongoing professional development and networking experiences to enhance their knowledge and connections in the industry.

On the client side, effective communication plays a vital role in financial planning. Professionals in this field must excel at conveying financial concepts in clear terms to clients and ensuring that clients understand the implications and options available to them. Moreover, successful professionals not only master communication but also adhere to high ethical standards. They prioritize their clients’ best interests above all else, recognizing that trust is paramount in financial planning. I look forward to growing these skills.

What has been your favorite part of working in the field so far?

From my perspective as a student, I find the wealth management field to be incredibly rich in opportunities. One of the best aspects is the abundance of advancement possibilities and career growth. The industry offers ample opportunities to develop and progress professionally both as a student and a new graduate. What’s even more appealing is the mobility it offers – as a student with limited experience, being able to explore and jump between various roles within the industry is advantageous. This not only expands my skill set but also makes me more versatile and adaptable in this dynamic field.

Another positive aspect of working in wealth management is the emphasis on relationship building and the personal aspect of the role. This industry is, for the most part, client-centric and revolves around establishing strong connections. The opportunity to work closely with other clients allows for the development of long-term relationships, which can be both professionally fulfilling and rewarding. The responsibility of helping clients grow and protect their wealth is both challenging and rewarding, as well. As a wealth manager, I can positively influence individuals’ financial lives, assisting them in achieving their financial goals and navigating economic uncertainties. As a whole, the wealth management field offers incredible opportunities, making it an appealing choice for a future career.

What impact do you hope organizations like Diversitas will have on the wealth management industry in the coming years?

In my opinion, organizations like Diversitas that focus on diversity in the wealth management industry have the potential to bring about significant and multi-faceted positive changes. These organizations play a crucial role in promoting inclusivity and fostering transformation within the sector, contributing to the long-term recruitment and advancement of a more diverse workforce in wealth management. By actively attracting individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, these organizations can help increase diversity on both the professional and client side. This, in turn, can create a more equitable workplace where a broader range of ideas and approaches are encouraged.

Furthermore, I believe that these organizations can work towards narrowing the wealth gap by addressing the needs of underserved and underrepresented communities. By providing education, resources, and support to individuals from these communities, they can empower them to make informed financial decisions, accumulate wealth, and participate more actively in the wealth management industry. This not only benefits these individuals but also strengthens the industry by tapping into a wider talent pool.

In the long term, diversity-focused organizations can help establish diversity practices as a fundamental part of the industry’s culture, and they are imperative for the future of the industry and the societal perception of it. Ultimately, by recognizing and celebrating the value of diversity, these organizations can contribute to better financial outcomes, increased trust, and an improved reputation for the industry as a whole.

Don’t forget to claim your free spot at the Symposium today and check out Kristen Nelson’s Q&A on job opportunities for recent graduates.

Sofia Buffalini

Sophia Buffalini is a senior at the University of Akron, currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in financial planning and financial management. Her college experience has been focused on refining her skills and expanding her knowledge in financial planning, both inside and outside the classroom. Sophia is enthusiastic about sharing her experiences with others and looks forward to applying her academic knowledge and experience to make a positive impact in the finance industry post-graduation.

Beyond academics, Sophia actively engages with the campus community. In her role as the vice president of the Financial Planning Student Association, she contributes to coordinating campus events for students and maintains relationships with industry professionals and student leaders from other campus organizations, such as the Women in Business and Financial Management Association. Sophia currently works in the finance department and on the Dean’s Team at the University of Akron, in addition to her financial planning internship at Impel Wealth Management. These commitments have allowed her to refine her leadership and interpersonal skills, undoubtedly enhancing her college experience.

Looking ahead, Sophia’s ultimate career aspiration is to become a financial advisor and grow within the wealth management landscape. She is driven to maintain her involvement and support of organizations such as Diversitas and create a profound long-term impact in the wealth management industry. On a personal level, Sophia looks forward to joining the industry, discovering new interests, and taking on a role that will allow her to grow and contribute to the success of teams or organizations.

Sophia expresses her excitement about having had significant professional development experiences and forming invaluable connections with professors and industry professionals during her time at the University of Akron. She anticipates the multitude of opportunities and challenges that lie ahead and is eager to connect with individuals on similar career paths who share a passion for promulgating diversity and inclusion in the wealth management space.