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Career Guidance for Recent Graduates: Consider Financial Planning

Written by: Kevin R. Keller, CAE
Published on: Oct 5, 2021

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Image credit: iblist/Shutterstock

The financial planning profession is in a period of significant growth. The combination of an aging baby boomer generation, longer life spans and a shift away from traditional pensions means more Americans are looking for competent, ethical financial planning advice. As a result, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 4% growth in financial advisors by 2029. What’s more, part of this aging wave includes financial planners themselves, many of whom – about 37% – are expected to retire over the next decade, providing a wealth of opportunities for newcomers.

This perfect storm of demographic trends and industry developments has made this a great time for recent graduates to enter the financial planning profession. Financial planning careers are available across a wide variety of companies and business models. Entry level financial planning opportunities can be found at large firms with brand names recognized around the world, as well as at smaller firms dedicated to serving their local communities. This year’s graduates will have many possibilities for deciding where to start their career journey in the field. 

At CFP Board, we’re working to encourage more of today’s graduates to consider this rewarding profession. Our Center for Financial Planning recently completed comprehensive research of workforce development practices across the profession by interviewing 67 firm representatives at 40 firms across 12 business models. The robust information gathered informs the forthcoming Career Path Guide for Aspiring Financial Planners, scheduled for release this summer. This resource, designed for recent graduates, students and career changers considering careers in financial planning, will help aspiring planners navigate the wide variety of career opportunities in the financial planning profession and identify the career paths that best fit their strengths and interests. It will offer guidance on beginning and sustaining a successful financial planning career, with information about types of companies across the profession, job duties, compensation, professional development and career progression expectations.

We’re also working to help those interested in the field pursue CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification – the standard of excellence for financial planners. CFP® certification sets financial planners apart from other financial advisors because it signals to clients – and potential employers – that they have met extensive training, experience and ethical requirements. In fact, our research found that 92% of CFP® professionals are highly satisfied with their career choice and decision to pursue CFP® certification.

Educating recent and soon-to-be graduates on career options in financial planning and supporting their aspirations in the field is an integral component of our work to create a diverse, sustainable talent pipeline to secure the future of our profession. No matter their interests, we need more of today’s graduates – young, eager to learn and driven to succeed – to join our profession and provide the competent, ethical financial planning advice that more Americans increasingly demand.

We recognize that this is not a simple task and requires the combined effort of financial services firms, educators, current financial planners, allied professionals and other stakeholders. CFP Board is working to generate collective action through the initiatives of our Center for Financial Planning. To help aspiring CFP® professionals, since 2016 the Center has awarded 100 scholarships totaling upward of $500,000 to students seeking to complete the educational requirements necessary to sit for the CFP® exam. Since our first scholarship award through today, 16 recipients have become CFP® professionals, and there are currently 44 in the final stages of certification.

We’re also connecting recent graduates with employers through jobs and internships posted on our Career Center, the premier job website in financial planning. Since its launch in 2015, the CFP Board Career Center has added more than 6,100 job and internship postings and registered over 27,000 job seekers and 3,900 employers. Additionally, we continue to hold virtual career fairs that enable employers and job seekers to connect in real time through one-on-one video chats.

For those graduates in the CFP® certification process, we’ve created an online discussion community allowing these individuals to engage with other candidates who are at various stages on their path to certification. On the CFP Board Candidate Forum, candidates can ask and answer questions, seek advice, learn from others’ experiences, and connect with others preparing for the upcoming exam.

These and other resources can be invaluable to today’s graduates as they navigate post-college life. We at CFP Board and the Center will continue to develop and roll out new tools that support recent graduates in their pursuit of joining our profession and fulfilling their career goals.

Kevin R. Keller, CAE is the CEO at CFP Board