More Financial Planners Choosing College Over Brokerage Programs to Career Preparation

The career path for aspiring financial planners has been widening over the last several years as more advisers are choosing to break into the profession through academia as opposed to enrolling in extensive training programs run by brokerage houses.

Traditionally, brokers and other financial advisement professionals have relied on the training programs at brokerages like Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch to prepare for a career. The vast majority of brokers and planners trained through companies like these and the entire industry was made up of individuals whose certifications came by way of the big brokerages. But that is not as much the case anymore.

An increasing number of individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in financial planning are looking to do so through academics. The big brokerages are subsequently moving to accommodate the trend by offering internship programs for students who fit the bill. Merrill Lynch, for example, has implemented its first ever college internship program, which was made available to students for the 2014-2015 academic year.

For years, brokerages were wary of hiring college students and preferred to hire recruits from within their own ranks and from other brokerages who had more direct real-world financial planning experience. Their concern was that clients who were in their 50s and 60s would be reticent to take financial advice from a person in his or her early 20s who was fresh out of college.

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That thinking has changed, however, and as an increasing number of seasoned financial advisement professionals reach retirement age, a shortage of qualified talent to replace them is beginning to emerge. As a result, brokerages are rethinking their staffing policies and working on ways of making it easier for college students to segue from their university business and economics programs into the world of financial planning and advisement.