Event Recap: Building Careers in Wealth Management - Future Careers
For our November Forum, we convened a panel of esteemed experts who shared valuable tips and insights geared toward individuals aspiring to embark on a career in wealth management. Based on the 12 Tribes of Financial Planning Model, the careers of the future may involve working in product distribution, discount brokerage, banking, or fintech, many of which have structured training programs. Our panelists included:
- Christian Rodriguez | Panelist, Charles Schwab Managing Director – Central Division Market Executive
- Katerina Sokolova | Panelist, Head of Sales Strategy and Enablement at Pershing and Pershing X
- Nathan Harness | Moderator, Director of Financial Planning at Texas A&M University and the co-author of the 12 Tribes of Financial Planning model
Panelists discussed their career journeys in wealth management, offered interview standout tips, shared how to know what area of financial planning is right for you. If you couldn’t make it, we’ve recapped some of the main takeaways below.
Diverse Paths into Financial Planning
As a former college football player at Texas A&M, Christian received an undergraduate degree in marketing and a master’s degree in educational human resource development. Although not what he initially studied, he found his calling in financial planning after connecting with professional loan officers. He emphasized the significance of starting at entry levels and showcasing one’s abilities.
“I am a big fan of having people come in at an entry level because that is where you get to understand everything about the organization, and it’s an opportunity to show future leaders that you are willing to jump in, get your feet wet, and have a better idea of where you want to take your career in the future,” said Christian.
In reflecting on his unexpected entry into the financial sector, Christian acknowledged the perceived stigma associated with not having a degree or specific background in finance for a loan officer role. However, he embraced the challenge, starting at the entry level, and discovered that this was the path he genuinely wanted to pursue.
Embracing Change and Diversity
Katerina emphasized the constant evolution of the financial industry. She encouraged individuals to recognize the industry’s complexity as an opportunity for personal and professional growth. She stressed the importance of diversity, both in terms of backgrounds and perspectives, in fostering creativity and innovation within financial planning.
Building on her insights, Katerina encouraged a fresh perspective when considering a career in wealth management. She prompted individuals to reflect on the diverse career options available within the industry, extending beyond conventional roles. Whether in cybersecurity, marketing, or technology, the financial sector offers a spectrum of opportunities for those willing to explore.
In line with this, Katerina suggested a practical approach to gaining insights. “Take a look at our LinkedIn and the people we are connected to. I think you will find a lot of interesting surprises,” she advised, underlining the wealth of information and diverse paths that can be uncovered through professional networks.
Removing perceived barriers to entry
Dr. Harness noted that, at times, financial planning can feel a bit unapproachable, and it is a profession many young adults never engaged in. There are often perceived barriers to entry, and Christian addressed this by highlighting the industry’s need for diverse hires.
“The more diverse we are with the individuals we hire, the more diversity of thought, creativity, and intuition we will have. I think this is critically important in this ever-changing environment that we are in right now, and making sure that we are not having group think or just looking at things the way we have in the past,” says Christian.
He emphasized that unique perspectives contribute to creative thinking and better serve clients. Christian stressed that the industry needs to collectively prioritize diversity because he believes that people want to be served by individuals who look like them and have a familiar cultural background. As an industry, we want to be well-represented enough to help people of all backgrounds find their financial future.
Choosing the Right Fit
Both panelists advise individuals to take a strategic approach when considering different entry points into financial planning, emphasizing the importance of understanding company culture and growth potential and aligning personal values with the organization’s mission.
“Take a step back and go through and thoroughly understand all the options (RIA, fintech, discount broker). There are completely different areas you can start at, but it is important to understand what all of them are,” said Christian. He also advises job candidates to remember that in an interview, you are interviewing the organizations to see if the company is a good fit for you and aligns with your standards just as much as they are interviewing you.
The panelists also advise students to contact mentors and financial services industry professionals to seek career guidance and potential networking opportunities.
Dr. Harness introduces a networking strategy for students known as the “wounded bird strategy.” According to him, people generally want to assist a wounded bird, but they may not know how to do so. As students are still learning and very early in their career, Dr. Harness advises them to take advantage of the opportunity to interact with senior executives now, as people are more likely to help and it becomes more challenging once they enter the workforce.
Dr. Harness and the other panelists advise reaching out via LinkedIn to professionals above your current reach, asking for just five minutes to pose 2-3 questions. Rather than directly asking about a job, inquire about potential opportunities within their network for someone with high tenacity and a willingness to learn, seeking an entry point such as an internship. This approach often results in a C-suite executive forwarding your resume to HR, says Dr. Harness.
Finding the Right Firm vs. Role
Particularly when starting out, having the right team and firm support is crucial. Katerina emphasized the resources available in larger firms can greatly aid junior professionals in learning and networking.
“Having the right team and firm behind you is incredibly important. When you start, you need an opportunity to learn and network,” said Katerina.
Christian emphasized that while roles may be commoditized, culture cannot be. He highlighted the significance of organizational culture in long-term career decisions and success, suggesting that working in a company with a positive culture contributes to professional flourishing.
Women in Wealth Management
Katerina shared her positive experience as a woman in financial services, highlighting intellectual stimulation, financial stability, and the opportunity to work with interesting people. While acknowledging industry challenges, she encouraged women and minorities to persist and contribute to positive change.
“It’s fantastic being a woman in financial services because of financial independence and the ability to support myself and my family,” said Katerina. “Financial services is exhilarating, with new challenges and puzzles to figure out.”
To watch the entire session, please click here. We want to thank our panelists and moderator for generously sharing their time and invaluable insights. This Forum concludes our three-part series on the 12 Tribes of Financial Planning Model. Stay tuned for more information about our next Symposium Thursday, February 8th. 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!