I have the best job in the world. I help people live better lives while making a decent living and exercising a lot of control over my time. It is truly a fantastic blessing. Yet, neither of my kids, Megan, 23 and Josh, 21, nor any of their friends are interested in financial planning.

Given all the plusses of the field, the helping nature of many in that generation and a demand for planning talent that far exceeds supply, financial planning should be one of the most popular majors on campus. But it’s not. Less than 2 percent of universities even have programs and the biggest of those have only a couple hundred students.

There are a lot of reasons for this. There is little, if anything, about financial literacy taught in grades K-12, let alone much mention of the financial planning profession. This contributes to a lack of awareness among students and their parents.

The CFP Board’s “I’m a CFP Pro” and general public awareness campaigns are helping but they pale in comparison to the ad budgets of financial service companies. The active recruiting and on-campus sponsorships of large firms make it such that many students believe financial planning means selling for a brokerage or insurance company. Sometimes graduates will do well in that role, but attrition rates are high. When it doesn’t work out, that failure gets back to other students.

It is also true that some students go to work at highly professional, fiduciary financial planning firms and it doesn’t work out. Why? Sometimes smaller firms don’t have good career tracks but often it is because the student thought they wanted to be a planner but realized it doesn’t really suit them. That kind of false start is a common hazard of youth.

Sadly, many of the graduates that have bad experiences wherever they start their careers, do not pivot to another planning related career. They go into other fields entirely and their financial planning education is diminished.

This frustrates many professors at planning programs because a degree in financial planning is not only a ticket to a career as a financial planner, it can be useful in many jobs at many financial planning related companies, not just professional practices.

Luke Dean, PhD, CRC, RFC is the CFP program director and associate professor of personal financial planning in the Woodbury School of Business at Utah Valley University recruits and works with a lot of students and next gen professionals.

“In a field that’s desperate for new talent we were losing a lot of potential recruits because they were turned off by the approach of some firms,” says Dean.  

He felt a responsibility to educate students and parents about what to expect from various firms to avoid poor fits. At one point in his efforts to explain the different working environments, he was informed by his dean that life insurance sales companies were upset that they were having a tough time hiring his students and felt he was the cause. He wasn’t, but the dean asked him to create something to put on their website that would objectively describe the different paths in, and around, the financial planning profession.

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