I recently attended the Financial Planning Association’s annual conference, FPA Experience 2012, with a number of my Zywave colleagues. As part of Zywave’s social media team, I was glad to personally meet some of the people I’ve been getting to know through our Twitter account and LinkedIn Partner Group.
Shifting focus to a younger generation
For most of the financial planning industry’s short history, both advisors and their clients have been from the Baby Boomer generation. As this population ages, the industry is understandably concerned with attracting younger advisors and clients, an issue several sessions at the conference addressed. Just as promising was the number of college students in attendance. A few stopped by the Zywave booth one morning, and after proclaiming that our booth had GREAT carpet (everyone appreciated some extra cushiness by the second day of the conference!), they told me more about their involvement at FPA.
Sparking excitement in students – and their professors
I soon learned that over 100 students representing approximately fifteen universities were in attendance. The conference hosts the final round of the Financial Planning Challenge, a competition between teams that involves:
- A written financial planning case study
- An oral presentation of a financial planning case study
- A “How Do You Know?” game-show style financial planning knowledge contest
After qualifying on the basis of their written plans, eight teams competed at the conference on these last two skills. The top three teams this year, earning scholarships for their schools, were Kansas State University (first), Virginia Tech Team 2 (second) and Texas Tech University (third).
Sessions and events related to the conference spark excitement in the students, says Jacob Sybrowsky, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor of Personal Financial Planning at Utah Valley University in attendance with several of his students. “My favorite part of any conference is when students come to me and say – with some shock – ‘I went to a session and they talked about something that we covered in class,’ or ‘Do you know how much we can learn here?’ We want them to engage, learn what professionals are learning, and do what they are doing.”
Investing in the future
One young woman who visited the Zywave booth was interning for a financial planning firm and had many intelligent questions about how our software could make their processes more efficient. Others stopped by to say that they used NaviPlan or Profiles, and were very glad to be able to take their advanced skills with our software into their first jobs.
“We want our students to be prepared for the industry, and that cannot be done effectively without bringing industry leaders into our classrooms and bringing our students out to industry events,” Dr. Sybrowsky told me.
As part of its own investment in the future of the industry, Zywave partners with educational institutions to provide financial planning software access for students enrolled in financial planning degree programs. If your college or university would like to incorporate NaviPlan or Profiles into your Capstone or financial planning course, please contact Kevin Fruck.
Do you have experience working with a younger generation of advisors? Do you think bringing younger advisors into planning firms will help bridge that generational client gap to attract the Generation X and Y client base? I’m curious of your thoughts on the topic – please comment below.