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Symposium Panel Recap: Beyond Math and Sales: Breadth of roles in financial advising

Beyond Math and Sales Panel Screenshot

At our Symposium earlier this month, we hosted a panel of experts who shared various viewpoints on careers and roles in the financial planning industry that require skills beyond math and sales. In case you missed it, we’ve recapped the discussion below. You can also watch the full session here

Before we share key takeaways from the session, meet the moderator and panelists:

The Importance of Increasing Diversity in the Industry

Over the past two decades, discussions about the importance of diversity in various industries have been ongoing. However, despite these efforts, the shift towards a more diverse representation has been slow. Jesse Hurst, a white male in the wealth management industry, recognized this disparity and felt compelled to take action. He observed that conferences, which once predominantly featured individuals who looked like him, have only marginally increased diversity over the years. With a desire to see more women and people of color in the industry, Jesse took proactive steps. Four years ago, he approached the leadership at Cetera, Impel Wealth Management’s brokerage firm, advocating for the establishment of a diversity and financial planning scholarship program. Today, this program operates in ten universities with CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) programs near Cetera offices. It not only provides financial support but also offers internship opportunities and mentorship by industry professionals. The aim is clear: ”We can hopefully bring people into the industry that look more like the people they are going to serve,” says Jesse.

Traits Essential for Success in Financial Careers

In the financial industry, success often hinges on specific characteristics and skill sets that go beyond math and sales. 

Attention to detail, organization, and being able to effectively communicate complex information in layman terms is extremely important to be able to speak to your clients because that’s who you are building relationships with,” says Courtney, the Senior Vice President, Cyber Practice Leader at NFP. 

Courtney found that individuals with backgrounds in advisory, financial planning, or education tend to excel due to their developed skill sets. Jesse echoes this sentiment by highlighting the significance of specialization and outsourcing non-core functions. He emphasizes the importance of focusing on client interaction, financial planning, and portfolio management, while leveraging external expertise for tasks like marketing, IT, accounting, and HR. This approach allows professionals to optimize their skills and contribute effectively to the industry.

Looking Beyond the Stereotypes

Contrary to popular belief, the insurance industry offers diverse and dynamic career opportunities. Courtney shares insights into the realm of cybersecurity within insurance, shedding light on the evolving nature of threats such as social engineering. She recounts real-life scenarios where clients faced cyberattacks, underscoring the critical role of cybersecurity in today’s digital landscape. These anecdotes serve as a reminder of the ever-present need for vigilance and preparedness in mitigating risks.

Opportunities for Universities, Students, and Professionals

Engagement and participation from universities, students, and professionals are vital for fostering diversity and innovation within the industry. Jesse encourages collaboration through initiatives like the Cetera scholarship program, which provides opportunities for students and professors to get involved. He stresses the importance of offering meaningful experiences to interns, allowing them to gain insights into different facets of the industry. 

“One of the biggest mistakes people make with interns is they treat them like low paid staff. At Impel, we get our interns involved in front and back stage opportunities, like sitting in on client meetings, so they understand the industry,” says Jesse. 

Kristen agreed, “When I was an intern many decades ago, I was just the file clerk interning for an HR role, and obviously that is not where I ended up.”

Similarly, NFP offers paid summer internships nationwide, welcoming individuals from diverse backgrounds to explore career paths in insurance. Courtney highlights the versatility of the industry and how individuals can leverage their passions and interests to make meaningful contributions. Whether it’s through sports or other domains, there are opportunities for everyone to find their niche within insurance and financial planning.

By prioritizing diversity, nurturing talent, and embracing innovation, the industry can continue to evolve and thrive in an ever-changing landscape.

To watch the full session check it out here.