By Rebecca Cross
Finance Club students in the Poole College of Management regularly engage with speakers from industries and institutions. With a visit in December from Poole College alumna Allison Berger (Business Management ’94), a certified financial planner (CFP) at Financial Symmetry, they were able to talk at length with an experienced financial professional.
Berger said financial advising is a career path ripe with opportunity for current students.
“The average age of most financial advisors is over age 50; and, within the next 10 years, nearly a third of all financial advisors are going to retire,” Berger said. “So, there’s a huge opportunity for students who are versed in finance to come into [the] industry and take on those roles and really create a lot of wealth for themselves and for their clients.”
Many people might have good incomes but limited exposure to financial planning, Berger said. Financial advisors can ease uncertainty surrounding personal finance matters and set clients on paths toward long-term financial success.
Berger told students about the steps required to become a CFP and the importance of the designation.
“Having those letters next to your name builds credibility right away,” Berger said.
In addition to coursework and a series of tests, becoming a CFP requires three years of work experience. Internships can be included in the work experience requirement. Berger said most full-time hires at Financial Symmetry started as interns, she included. Financial Symmetry hires interns during every season, not just during the summer.
There are many different business models in the financial advising industry, she explained. Berger is a fee-only financial planner. Fee-only financial planners are only paid by their clients.
“We believe that fee-only is the way to do the best thing for your clients,” Berger said. “So, we’re not compensated based on what products they buy or anything our company tells us to do. We’re compensated just directly from the client based on the advice that we give.”
She also encouraged students interested in fee-only financial advising to join the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA). The association offers discounted memberships to students and training conferences. Job and internship opportunities are also posted on the site, with an option for members to upload resumes.
Becoming a financial advisor is just one of many paths available to students studying business administration with an emphasis in finance.
Josh Bryan, Finance Club president and junior business administration major with a concentration in finance, said he encourages his fellow club members to take advantage of the networking opportunities the club provides.
“One meaningful interaction or one good impression can lead to an interview, internship and eventually a job,” Bryan said. “As president, I want to maximize these opportunities.”
The club’s speakers have included professionals from Cisco, Credit Suisse, Merrill Lynch, Regions Bank, IHS Markit, PNC Bank, as well as local entrepreneurs.
On average, between 20 to 40 students attend each meeting. Carl Davis, lecturer in finance, serves as the faculty advisor for the club.