The State of the CFP Board Registered Financial Planning Programs?

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Each year I spend several days visiting various Certified Financial Planner Board-registered programs throughout the country to ensure that as an industry, we are continuing to source, screen and integrate the best available talent for the financial planning firms we represent. Last month, I visited three programs: Virginia Tech University, University of Missouri and University of Wisconsin. (It was my own little version of planes, trains and automobiles!)

During these visits, I interviewed dozens of students, spoke to a handful of PhDs (faculty members, college deans and program chairs) and gave presentations to help the students understand the financial-planning world they will be entering.

I met a lot of students and had some great, average and not-so-great interviews. On the plus side, I found many students are ready and eager to enter the financial-planning world.

  • 100% were dressed appropriately for an interview, up from 90% last year.
  • 70% had a good idea of what type of firm and role they were seeking, up from 60% last year.
  • 50% followed up with a thank-you note, about the same as last year.
  • 75% had internship and/or work experience in the profession.
  • 50% were willing to relocate, down from 80% last year. Chicago, Washington D.C., St. Louis and Kansas City were the areas where candidates were seeking positions, not surprisingly.

However, while there are some great new planners ready to be hired, there are also a lot who are not well prepared to enter a professional planning firm.

  • Only 80% brought a hard copy of their resume to the interview, and few had business cards.
  • No candidates brought a copy of a financial plan or financial-planning project they had completed. One candidate did provide a copy of a completed personality assessment.
  • Few had a thorough understanding of business models, compensation structures, licensure requirements, recent legislation (Dodd-Frank) and industry issues.
  • Some thought they had to go into banking or insurance sales for a few years prior to entering financial planning.
  • Not all students enrolled in these programs were seeking careers in financial planning. Several were looking to start their own franchises and enter businesses unrelated to the financial-planning profession.