NextGen students and their schools take on National LINC

NextGen students and their schools take on National LINC

Kate Healy | March 21, 2017

The future of the RIA industry is in great hands — if the 50 students from 25 universities who attended National LINC 2017 are any indication.

These financial planner hopefuls were a major presence at the conference as they networked and honed the skills they’ll need to kick off promising careers.

But even 50 students is just a drop in the bucket. It’s clear that we are at a crucial point in securing the sustainability of our industry. As current advisors retire, there simply won’t be enough talent to service their clients long-term if the trajectory doesn’t change. According to the Financial Planning Program Director for Utah Valley University, Luke Dean, the industry needs an influx of about 200,000 NextGen financial planners, over the next 5 years, compared with the roughly 1,000 that are graduating from university programs each year.1

What can we do?

1. As an industry: Support and promote high quality, financial planning university programs. (Great news—we do this already!)
2. As an RIA firm: Develop a program that will foster the next generation of financial advisors. Make your firm an attractive place for top talent to stay for the long-term. (More great news—we can help.)

Supporting higher education

We were pleased to welcome program directors from 25 universities across the country to National LINC 2017. In addition to shepherding their students, the directors networked with advisors to find creative ways to work together.

Dr. Phillip Gibson from Winthrop University, for example, makes the most of the conference by networking with planners from North and South Carolina. His goal is to invite them to campus to speak about careers and fill internship positions.

He shared that one of his students from Indiana met an advisor at the conference who went to the same high school. This student already has an internship lined up for when he returns home to Indiana this summer.

Dr. Gibson noted that he has never had a student who attended LINC and decided not to be a financial planner. I think that speaks volumes! In fact, he often sees students return from the conference and recruit their friends into the program. He said, “TD Ameritrade Institutional helps us beyond simply having us at the conference. There’s an exponential effect of students recruiting more students based on their experience. We appreciate the support.” Which is great, because that’s the only thing we ask of the students and scholarship winners: Tell your friends!

Attracting NextGen talent

Hiring managers may be accustomed to being in the driver’s seat when it comes to filling positions, but the tables are turning for top NextGen job seekers. Given the current and projected shortage of graduates with financial planning backgrounds, the burden is on advisors to be proactive and on constant lookout for recruits.

This may explain why our student/advisor networking reception was such a success at LINC. Not only was it a place for students to sharpen their skills, but advisors leveraged the opportunity to showcase their firm’s value proposition. Advisors have a special way of turning anything into a competition. I enjoyed watching them doing whatever it would take to direct and attract the most eyes and ears for conversation.

While it’s too soon for data from this year, in 2016 over 20% of students who attended made connections that led to a job or internship. I am so proud of this number!

One of many students who stands out to me is Gerika Ballard, an impressive undergrad from Utah Valley University.

On track to graduate Spring 2018, she’s already had five paid internships. It all started when she applied for, and won, a TD Ameritrade NextGen scholarship. “The scholarship included a trip to New York. That trip really opened my eyes to the possibilities—particularly for women—in the industry. Once I put the scholarship on my resume, doors started to open. TD Ameritrade Institutional has really been my springboard.”

Gerika (pictured above in the center along with Tiffany Peterson, on the left, and Martie Tullis, on the far right) enjoyed LINC and is hoping to turn some new connections into an internship for summer 2017. Down the road, her dream job would be at a firm that focuses on comprehensive financial planning. She’d loved to be part of a small- to mid-sized, fee-based team. If you want to find Gerika, or students like her, make sure you visit You can also post your open positions there.

Always be recruiting

Even if your firm is fully staffed today, never pass up the opportunity to make connections. You never know when you’ll need to fill a spot. Here are a few tips:

Make sure you have a relationship with a financial planning program—be a guest speaker, hire interns, and mentor students. This is your talent pipeline!
Keep in touch with a group of financial planning students so when you need to fill a position, you’ve got a short list of talent ready.
Be open to career changers. Advisors who are newer to the field may be able to help, especially if you are seeking to show a friendly face to clients serviced by “robo-advisors.”
Take advantage of our free resource, the RIA NextGen Career Exchange. It helps connect advisors and candidates for job and internship opportunities.

Scholarship and grant application window opening soon

For the fifth year, TD Ameritrade Institutional will award two grants to universities that demonstrate a commitment to educating the industry’s future financial professionals:

One $50,000 grant to a university with an established program
One $25,000 grant to a university with an emerging program

We heard your comments on how to get better at writing grants. Stay tuned for insights from past grant winners as they share tips on creating compelling grant applications and update us on how they put their grant money to good use to help secure a pipeline of talent.

In addition, here’s a great reason to reach out to a promising student. The TD Ameritrade NextGen Scholarship will award 12 $5,000 scholarships to deserving and talented students, including two focused on diverse candidates.

Take the first step and spread the word. Write a note of encouragement and send the link to the application to a student in your life who you think would make a great addition to your team down the road.

Program director perspective

Hear more from Utah Valley University’s Luke Dean on the RIA landscape:


Keep in touch

I enjoyed meeting so many of you at LINC. Please keep in touch as I continue to “AdvoKate” for you and the future of our industry.

  TD Ameritrade and the third-parties mentioned above are separate and unaffiliated and are not responsible for the other’s opinions, services or policies.