A financial adviser career path: The unknown road

Lack of awareness and understanding of the financial services career path is a barrier to recruiting women and the next generation of advisers

Nov 26, 2014 @ 6:00 am

By Theresa Gralinski

Our team at The Advisor Center is well-versed in the benefits of a career as a financial adviser or planner. We are often surprised by the number of those outside the industry who are unaware of what this industry has to offer in terms of job satisfaction, flexibility, growth and earning potential.

Case in point: I recently spoke with three college seniors, two males and a female, from three top universities — Notre Dame, Indiana University and the University of Wisconsin. All three were finance majors.

When I asked of their career goals they shared: analyst, loan officer and corporate finance.

I then asked if they had considered a becoming a financial adviser or planner? Their responses:

The aspiring analyst said, “I want to make big money.”

The aspiring loan officer said, “Not really. That wasn't part of my program, and I got an internship at a bank and liked it.”

The corporate finance student said, “Someday, I want to be a CFO.”

They hadn't even considered the personal financial services side of the business.

The Unknown Profession

I attended two conferences within the past six weeks addressing the need to bring fresh talent into the financial services industry. One event focused on attracting and empowering female advisers while the other catered to the next generation of advisers. Lack of awareness of the profession was identified as a primary obstacle to attracting these two particular populations to an aging industry in need of more financial advisers to meeting the needs of a growing number of investors.

Recent surveys have found that as little as 5% of the working advisory population is under the age of 30.

On the flip side, 43% are over 55 and the average age of financial advisers across the country is roughly 51. These professionals may still have a few years left before retirement, but many have already begun to think about a succession plan.

Who will these aging advisers find to replace the service and value they provide to their clients? Women make up less than 12% of the advisory workforce according to data released this year by Cerulli Associates. At the same time, women reportedly control 39% of all investable assets in the U.S. How can the industry expect to reach a wider female audience and attract more female clients when there aren't many women in the industry to begin with?

Creating a picture of financial advising or planning as a rewarding, growing, flexible and lucrative career path isn't hard.

1. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of job openings for financial advisers will jump 27%, or 60,300 more jobs, by 2022. That's much faster than the 10.8% average growth rate for all occupations.

2. According to a study published by Pershing LLC, an estimated $30 trillion in wealth will transfer to the next generation of investors over the next 30 years.

3. Financial adviser ranked No. 4 on U.S. News and World Report's Best Business Jobs for 2014 – based on hiring demand, salary, industry growth and work-life balance.

4. According to the BLS, the mean annual wage of a personal financial adviser was twice that of the average income reported for all other occupations. Some industry projections are for starting salaries to rise 3.5 percent in the next year.

Information is available about the benefits of becoming a financial adviser, but not enough of it is being shared. To attract the young people and women this industry desperately needs, firms large and small will need to do their part to communicate the value of this career path and the significant opportunities available.

Theresa Gralinski is marketing director of The Advisor Center

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