By Daniel M. Yerger
With summer on the horizon, many financial planning students returning from spring break are already looking forward to another break from virtual classrooms and homework assignments standing between them and their next bout of freedom.
However, summer is often a missed opportunity for many students. While many peers will use the summer break as an opportunity to take a road trip or visit family, the summer is an important period for serious students to get ahead on their studies and qualifications for financial planning work.
Here are some significant resume builders you can take advantage of over the summer.
FPA Externship: In response to the pandemic last year, the Financial Planning Association launched the FPA Externship program, a “virtual internship” where students can learn from over two dozen financial planners how the work gets done.
The program includes classes and Q&A sessions on the various financial planning topics and hands-on use of tools like eMoney and Morningstar Advisor Workstation, along with becoming certified in various platforms. The program costs $199 for members and $249 for non-members. The schedule is flexible, and those who complete the program receive 180 hours towards their CFP Certification.
Sitting for Licensing Exams: Financial Planners who are not yet sure what type of firm they’d like to go work with can sit for two of the licensing exams for financial planners before they ever set foot in their first job. The Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) Exam can be sat without sponsorship by a FINRA firm by anyone who wishes to take it and is a pre-requisite examination for those who wish to move on to take the Series 6, Series 7, Series 63, or Series 66 Exams.
These are all common licenses for financial planners depending on the firm’s nature, but specifically, commission only or fee and commission firms. The Uniform Investment Adviser Law Exam (Series 65) can be sat for without sponsorship and qualifies a student to provide financial advice for a fee, a common practice for financial planning firms. Note that you should not take these exams any earlier than two years before graduation, as they expire if they are not active for two years.
Sitting for the CFP Exam: Naturally, most financial planners will sit for the CFP exam after completing their pre-requisite coursework. If you have decided to complete your CFP qualifying coursework earlier in your degree program, sitting the CFP early and passing it before graduation is a major competitive advantage when entering the job market. It indicates clearly to any employer that you have taken your studies seriously, are serious about the profession, and have made significant investments in preparing yourself for work on day one.
Getting an Internship: Naturally, all of the suggestions so far are good for indicating your technical learning and skills, but nothing beats actual experience. Financial Planning internships can be tricky to find because many will land you in sales roles rather than financial planning work, though for some students, sales and client engagement training is the skill they need to work on the most!
Good places to look for internships include the Financial Planning Association’s Job Board, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisor’s Job Board, the CFP Board’s Career Center, and the XY Planning Network Internship Program. Another great program is the Blatinx Internship Program, though the application period has already closed this year. Do not forget to check your University’s job boards, as local firms may advertise internships directly with your school.
Finally, if you’re already a member of one of the professional associations, networking with your fellow chapter members can also be a quick route to finding a great learning opportunity over the summer.
Daniel M. Yerger, CFP®, ChFC®, AIF®, CDFA® is the founder and owner of MY Wealth Planners®, a fee-only RIA in Longmont, Colo. Along with his financial planning practice, Daniel studies fee-for-service financial planning business models as a Ph.D. student at Kansas State University. Prior to his work as a financial planner, Daniel served in the United States Army as a Psychological Operations Specialist. Daniel serves on the FPA National NexGen Committee.
FPA NexGen, a community of the Financial Planning Association® (FPA®), aims to provide support and collaboration for those professionals new to the financial planning profession. With more than 2,500 like-minded young professionals, members of FPA NexGen are ready to share their experiences and further the future of the financial planning profession. Learn more about our engaged community and join the conversation on Twitter.
Here are past NexGen columns: