If a recent survey of students enrolled in Texas Tech University's financial planning program is any indication, much of the next generation of financial advisors want to steer clear of traditional wirehouse firms in favor smaller advisory firms. More than 70% of students getting ready to enter the workforce said they wanted to work at a boutique firm focused on either financial planning or managing client investment portfolios.

"The top reason is that boutique firms are the place where they feel they can serve the best interest of their clients," says David Welling, Schwab Institutional's vice president of advisor practice management. "That's the number one reason by a factor of three."

The survey of 160 students at Texas Tech's Division of Personal Financial Planning was conducted by the university and Schwab Institutional in May. Roughly half of those surveyed (51%) said the chance to help people in a meaningful way and putting clients' interests first is the most appealing characteristic of working for an independent advisory firm. The ability to make a good living ranked second (15%).

That's not to say that students want to make peanuts. "Independent boutiques offer a combination of compensation, culture and career that students are looking for," Welling says.

According to the survey, 58% of students said that annual salary and total compensation packages are the top reason for choosing an employer, followed by the chance to have the proper work/life balance (49%). A large majority (62%) expect to make between $35,000 and $55,000 in their first post-graduate job in the advisory profession.

As for that first gig and their anticipated duties during the first two years, 64% of respondents expect to perform back-office chores--such as managing client trade requests and doing data entry--and 63% expect to be involved in creating client financial plans. Only 15% anticipate having direct responsibility for managing a group of clients during this time, and just 10% foresee getting involved in the business management of the firm.