College students looking to become financial advisors are entering a job-seekers market this year, human resources specialists say.
The strong stock market has fueled hiring and the creation of intern programs, as independent shops look to grow their business.
“They have the profit margins and cash flow to invest in talent,” said Angie Herbers, a human resources consultant who has taught classes at Kansas State University on how to build careers in financial planning.
Companies are also expanding their campus recruiting and have found that quality of applicants has improved, Herbers added.
Five years ago, the focus of financial advisory classes was on technical knowledge, but that emphasis has changed to customer communications.
“A 22-year-old student is being taught how to talk to a 55-year-old client with $1 million to invest,” the consultant said.
Caleb Brown, former chairman of the Financial Planning Association’s NexGen initiative to get young workers into the industry, said the top candidates from this year’s graduating class are receiving multiple offers, with starting pay at around $40,000 to just over $50,000.
One company offered a William Patterson University financial planning student a job with full salary and benefits, even though the student isn't scheduled to graduate until December, according to Luke Dean, head of the college's financial planning program in Wayne, N.J.
“We’ve had a ton of interest. It’s a great time to be a student graduating from a financial planning degree program. [There are] lots of job opportunities, lots of paid internship opportunities,” said Dean.
Not all firms are looking to colleges, however, Rather than hire college graduates, Merrill Lynch prefers to fill financial advisor jobs with successful professionals from other industries, said spokesperson Susan Atran.