In an effort to help attract a new generation of financial advisors, TD Ameritrade Institutional has awarded $50,000 in scholarships to 10 financial planning undergraduate students from around the country. The goal: attract new talent to the industry as the current generation of older advisors near retirement.

Related: Who Are the Next Generation of Planners?

In multiple Q&As, TD Ameritrade’s scholarship winners and next generation planners share their views on the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

See a slideshow version of this article here. 

STUDENT #1: Delroy Stauffer

Age: 21 / Grade: Junior

School: University of South Carolina (Moore School of Business) / Major: Business Finance

What is your ideal career?

I will be pursuing a financial planning career at an independent fee-based firm. I believe that people need genuine, unbiased advice when it comes to their finances; without the strings of commission-based and opinionated services.

What is your reaction to winning TD Ameritrade’s scholarship?

I was absolutely elated. I pay for school out of pocket. I have a full credit load and have two jobs in order to stay in school. This scholarship will provide much needed help. I appreciate it greatly and will strive to earn every penny.

What do you see as the biggest challenge career-wise right now? How will you overcome it?

The biggest challenge will be becoming a Certified Financial Planner as well as finding a job. I will use whatever resources my school offers in order to assist me in these processes. I believe that if I genuinely try my very hardest at whatever I do, I will succeed.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity career-wise right now?

I believe that people are scared to invest and that there are so many options that they become overwhelmed. This is where the need for financial planners comes into play. We find a need and satisfy it.

What, in general, are today’s financial planners doing wrong?

I think that planners need to focus on a more personal level with their clients. Instead of looking at the numbers only, take time to look at the clients as people who have personal dreams, aspirations, and goals.

What were your reasons for going into financial planning?

I enjoy the numbers as well as getting a chance to interact with clients on a personal level. I also think there has never been a more important time in our nation to give advice to people on their finances.

What university programs helped you most? What did you wish you had more help with at your university to pursue your chosen career, if anything?

I believe the career center at the Moore School has helped me the most. It aided in finding an internship. I am concerned about getting a job when I graduate. I hope that the university will be able to assist me in this endeavor.

What did your school do to help you get a job?

They provided a database of local internship listings that led me to my current internship.

What is your college doing to help you get certified?

I am not currently seeking certification.

What’s the job outlook from your perspective – for both RIAs, wirehouses and banks? How do you view the opportunities available to you?

I believe that the job outlook is scarce but, with hard work and determination, I hope to one day secure a finance job.

What will the financial advisory industry look like in 10 years?

There will always be a need for money and there will always be a need for direction with that money. I believe that financial planning is a growing field and that it will continue to grow.  

STUDENT #2: Eric Siss

Age: 21 / Grade: Senior

School: Virginia Tech / Major: Finance CFP Certification Education Track

What is your ideal career?

My ideal career would be in an RIA with an emphasis on comprehensive financial planning. This path in particular interests me because of the client facing potential.

What is your reaction to winning TD Ameritrade’s scholarship?

I was extremely excited to win the scholarship, not only because of the financial benefit, but also because of the remarkable prestige that the scholarship has generated.

What do you see as the biggest challenge career-wise right now? How will you overcome it?

I believe the biggest challenge for me career-wise will be my age. It is especially difficult in this industry to overcome trust issues that clients may have with a young advisor. That being said, it does not bother me at all. I am prepared to pay my dues as a junior advisor, doing back office support and learning under senior advisors, until the point where I am ready to serve clients of my own.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity career-wise right now?

The biggest opportunity I see career-wise at this point is that there are firm owners out there looking for a succession plan. I would be ecstatic to learn and grow under a mentor in the hopes that one day he or she would have the trust in me to take over their business.

What, in general, are today’s financial planners doing wrong?

Generally, I feel as though today’s financial planners aren’t focusing enough of their efforts on finding younger clients that will sustain their business after the clients approaching retirement start spending down their assets. The way I see it, the financial advisor industry in 10 years will have a lot more major players in the RIA space that will become very competitive with the wirehouses.

What were your reasons for going into financial planning?

I really fell in love with the field of financial planning following an internship that I had with a wealth management firm. The experience was amazing and I knew following that summer that it was the perfect career path for me.

What university programs helped you most? What did you wish you had more help with at your university to pursue your chosen career, if anything?

Virginia Tech’s Financial Planning Association Student Chapter helped me most over the years because it led me to realize the many different styles of RIA’s that exist and it helped me decide which path I thought would be best for myself. I really cannot think of anything Virginia Tech could have done better to prepare me for my future career. 

What did your school do to help you get a job?

My advisor, Ruth Lytton, has been a tremendous help in finding internship and job opportunities. She sends out emails with new opportunities as they arise. Just being on the CFP Certification Education Track has been an incredible advantage.

What’s the job outlook from your perspective – for both RIAs, wirehouses and banks? How do you view the opportunities available to you?

The job outlook from my perspective looks great, mostly because I am focused entirely on the growing RIA space. I truly believe there will be many opportunities available to me come graduation in May.

STUDENT #3: Kelly McNerney

Age: 21 / Grade: Senior

School: William Paterson University (WPU), New Jersey / Major: Financial Planning

What is your ideal career?

This past summer I was able to have the opportunity to intern at an RIA firm in Vienna, Va. This was my first financial planning work experience and I learned more about the industry than I ever expected to. I was mentored by CFPs and assisted in comprehensive financial planning. This experience has made me attracted to the RIA environment and philosophy. However, I am not certain on my exact career path after graduation and am open to experiencing other options.

What is your reaction to winning TD Ameritrade’s scholarship?

When I was informed that I was a winner of TD Ameritrade’s generous scholarship, I felt honored, proud, and most of all, thankful. I work very hard in all of my classes and it is an amazing feeling to be rewarded in this way. This scholarship will be used toward my 2013-2014 school year at William Paterson University. I am grateful that TD Ameritrade focuses on improving the financial planning Industry by providing assistance, such as this scholarship, to students like me.

What do you see as the biggest challenge career-wise right now? How will you overcome it?

Personally, my biggest challenge career-wise right now is time management and prioritizing what is most important to me. I am a full time student and also work 40 hours a week to help finance my education. Even though it is sometimes challenging to allocate enough time for my academics, I find my busy schedule to be beneficial to my future career. 

What do you see as the biggest opportunity career-wise right now?

I believe that my biggest opportunity career-wise right now is being enrolled in a top undergraduate financial planning program. I am grateful that, as a student, I am able to attend conferences and meet professionals that have been in the industry for many years. I believe that after graduation I will have the skill set and experiences necessary to pursue my career choice.

What, in general, are today’s financial planners doing wrong?  

This is a tough question to answer since I am attracted to the profession because they seem to be doing so many things right. Advisors I have met are passionate about serving their clients’ needs and are continuously striving to improve their expertise. Large membership organizations, such as FPA and NAPFA, are improving the industry by embracing the fiduciary standard and continuously increasing competence standards. I am thrilled to join an industry that seems to be going in the right direction. If asked to find something wrong, I would say that companies that still don’t embrace the fiduciary standard are making a big mistake, and if I could change one thing, I would make the CFP mark a legal requirement to hold yourself out as a financial planner, rather than just a voluntary symbol of competence and integrity. Not everyone should be able to just start calling themselves a financial advisor. It makes it so that consumers are unsure where to go for good advice.

What were your reasons for going into financial planning? 

When I first enrolled at William Paterson University my major was Mathematics and Education. I have always had a talent with numbers and a desire for helping and teaching others. After hearing about the financial planning program and talking to my current advisor, Dr. Luke Dean, I decided to change my major. When speaking with Dr. Dean, he told me that if I was talented with numbers, passionate about helping others and had a strong work ethic, then financial planning would be the perfect industry for me. This decision has already brought me countless opportunities and I am extremely excited to see where the future will bring me.

What university programs helped you most? What did you wish you had more help with at your university to pursue your chosen career, if anything?

William Paterson University’s Advisement Center has been the most beneficial program for me thus far. My advisor, Dr. Dean, has been extremely supportive throughout my entire time enrolled in the financial planning program. Also, our Financial Planning Association Student Chapter has allowed me to network with many professionals in the industry, including when I was able to attend FPA Experience 2012. WPU’s financial planning students are continuously being invited to attended conferences and other networking events, which help enhance our knowledge of financial planning.

What did your school do to help you get a job?

William Paterson University’s financial planning program constantly sends out job opportunities to all students. Once a student is interested in applying for a job or internship, our advisors devote many hours of their personal time helping us with our resumes, cover letters, and mock interviews.

What is your college doing to help you get certified? 

William Paterson University’s financial planning program consists of challenging courses and wonderful professors. Our courses are designed to help ensure that we will be prepared to pass the CFP exam after graduation. We also have a Financial Planning Association Student Chapter, which brings in many industry-leading guest speakers to our classes. We listen and network with these guest speakers, which gives us a better understanding of the financial planning industry.

What’s the job outlook from your perspective – for both RIAs, wirehouses and banks? How do you view the opportunities available to you?

It is believed that the financial planning job market will continue to rapidly increase over the next decade. I am confident that not only will there be many job opportunities post-graduation, but also that I will be passionate about my career choice. There are many different directions one can go with a financial planning degree, such as RIAs, wirehouses and banks. I believe that regardless of what field I choose, I will be dedicated and successful in the industry.

What will the financial advisory industry look like in 10 years?

If I were to predict the future, I would say that there would be a fiduciary standard for anyone giving financial advice and that compensation of the advisor would be much more transparent to the consumer. Another obvious change is that the growth of degree programs in financial planning means that more of the labor force will come from recent college graduates. So, while we currently have financial planners that basically mirror their clients in age, I think that we are going to have many Generation Y professionals serving retired baby boomers.

STUDENT #4: Kayla-Lynn Kasica

Age: 21/ Grade: Junior

School: William Paterson University/ Major: Accounting and Financial Planning

What is your ideal career?

Upon graduation, I will pursue a career in the financial planning field under the fee-only RIA model. I believe in the fee-only model used by NAPFA; it puts clients first and is the best form of compensation for reducing potential conflicts. My ideal career would be with an independent firm that follows a client-centered comprehensive service model and embraces the fiduciary standard.

What is your reaction to winning TD Ameritrade’s scholarship?

For the first time as a college student, I will not have to balance two jobs and my full course load. Winning $5,000 is helping me to explore other opportunities without a financial burden on my shoulders. Without doubt, I can say this scholarship has changed my life.

What do you see as the biggest challenge career-wise right now? How will you overcome it?

The biggest challenge I see career-wise is rising up as a young female financial advisor. In the industry we are a strong minority, which I hope someday will be closer to being equal to male advisors.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity career-wise right now?

The biggest opportunity career-wise would be the potential of growth I have as a young female entering in the financial planning industry. More firms are seeking female advisors because the gap between male and female wages in the workforce is narrowing and more females are in need of financial advisement. The gap between males and females in the financial planning industry is still steep but there is great potential in growth in this fast moving industry.

What, in general, are today’s financial planners doing wrong?

While there is nothing wrong with specializing, I think advisors who want to be their clients primary financial guide are making a mistake if they are not being comprehensive in their advice. Nearly all advisors know about investments and insurance, but there is a lot of value to be added by having knowledge of related income tax and estate planning issues. Value in those areas is less abstract, so it is easier to demonstrate to clients and prospective clients. That is why I am double majoring in accounting and financial planning.

What were your reasons for going into financial planning?

As a professional career, financial planning allows me to help others achieve financial goals. One aspect that I am looking forward to is the interaction with people from various backgrounds. Most importantly, being a financial planner will allow me to give others tools to live financially healthy.

What university programs helped you most? What did you wish you had more help with at your university to pursue your chosen career, if anything?

It is tough to identify one program that has helped me the most. The entire financial planning program has helped me pursue my career. Specifically my professors -- Lukas Dean and John Duncan Williams -- for organizing various events like mock interviews, resume builders and bringing actual firm owners to the campus.

What did your school do to help you get a job?

My school has equipped me with all the tools necessary to succeed professionally. We receive multiple emails weekly about job and internship opportunities. In addition to teaching us the body of knowledge,  our professors also focus on the skills that make us valuable employees.

What is your college doing to help you get certified?

William Paterson University is helping me through the process of knowing when it is the optimal time to become certified. In addition, my school has also shown me other programs that assist with studying for the certification upon graduation.  The professors constantly talk about the CFP board exam as they address topics in their lectures.  They promote an expectation that we will sit for the exam as soon as possible after graduation.

What’s the job outlook from your perspective – for both RIAs, wirehouses and banks? How do you view the opportunities available to you?

The job outlook in all those areas is positive. Due to many financial hurdles more people are seeking professional guidance to become financially stable. I particularly focus on the RIA industry which is booming with fast growing firms. I think that is the best fit for me; but I know many of my fellow students have opportunities at brokerage firms and insurance firms.

What will the financial advisory industry look like in 10 years?

The financial industry will be dominated by the use of technology to more efficiently assist clients. In today’s modern industry, most advisors are easily accessible through phone or email. This easy accessibility will only increase with live video chatting and updates on financial reports to the clients fingertips in seconds. I see these efficiency gains allowing firms to more effectively serve the middle market with comprehensive advice, rather than primarily focusing on the mass affluent or high net worth.

STUDENT #5: Kelsey Brooks

Age:  21/ Grade: Senior

School: University of Georgia (College of Family and Consumer Sciences) / Major: Family Financial Planning, Consumer Economics

What is your ideal career?

My ideal career would be comprehensive financial planning with a focus in wealth management. I want to help a client from start to finish creating a plan that can be easily implemented and improved upon throughout the financial planning process. The stock market has always fascinated me and I enjoy researching stocks. Being able to help a client invest successfully would be very rewarding.

What is your reaction to winning TD Ameritrade’s scholarship?

I was surprised and thrilled to win the TD Ameritrade scholarship for $5,000. I have been very fortunate to receive the HOPE scholarship as an undergrad, but this scholarship will help fully cover tuition, fees and books for my entire senior year. It helps ease the financial pressure of college. It is a very generous amount and I am very appreciative to have been chosen to receive this award.

What do you see as the biggest challenge career-wise right now? How will you overcome it?

One of the biggest challenges I see encountering in my career right now is my age. The majority of planners are in their late forties, early fifties. I see an issue when starting to grow my client base, especially with clients trusting me with their money and planning for retirement. They have worked hard all of their lives and do not fully trust some 20-year-old to manage their money and make recommendations. I lack 20 years of life experience. I think the best way to overcome this challenge is to be prepared. My plan is to earn the necessary designations and provide comfort by showing potential clients that I am educated and care about making informed recommendations. At first, I want to work under an established planner to provide another level of security and trust among my clients.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity career-wise right now?

The baby boomers are retiring and need help with decisions about money in retirement, long term care insurance and other important decisions. This creates a large pool of potential clients seeking financial planners for quality advice and recommendations. In addition to the baby boomers, many financial planners are thinking about their retirement and succession plans. This creates an incredible opportunity for young planners to find mentors to learn the business and reach out to the younger generation of clients. More people are turning to financial planners to seek reliable and sound advice, which can only mean great things for growth in the industry.

What, in general, are today’s financial planners doing wrong?

A lot of financial planning firms deal with the high net-worth clients. I think that financial planners need to focus more on working with young professionals. This will allow planners to develop a lifelong relationship with a young individual or couple that will hopefully be beneficial to both parties. Financial literacy is a topic that needs to be addressed starting at a younger level and I believe that financial planners would be a great group to create a campaign or curriculum to support this issue.

What were your reasons for going into financial planning?

I want to help people. My sister is a nurse, but I cannot handle blood and I do not want to be responsible for a person’s physical life. Instead, I want to make them feel financially secure and help them achieve their life goals. I also enjoy building relationships with people as well as solving problems. Financial planning is the perfect blend of client interaction, analysis and creating a solution.

What university programs helped you most? What did you wish you had more help with at your university to pursue your chosen career, if anything?

I have been very involved with the Student Financial Planning Association (SFPA), which has allowed me to meet a variety of industry professionals. It has been a great resource to grow my network. I am also an ambassador for the College of Family and Consumer Sciences that allows me to meet and interact with faculty and alumni. We have wonderful professors that are very connected with firms around the country, as well as knowledgeable about opportunities for students such as scholarships, internships, competitions and conferences.

What did your school do to help you get a job?

Our financial planning professors are very connected with firms around the country. They are constantly sending out employment opportunities to our students. In our capstone class, Dr. Grable asks each individual student what they are looking for and tries to provide them with leads for firms that fit their interests. 

What is your college doing to help you get certified?

After completing a degree in Family Financial Planning from the University of Georgia we will be able to sit for the CFP exam. Our curriculum fulfills the education requirements for the CFP Board, which was one of the major factors for choosing the University of Georgia to pursue a degree.

What’s the job outlook from your perspective – for both RIAs, wirehouses and banks? How do you view the opportunities available to you?

There has been a lot of distrust between the consumer and banks. I think that the banking industry will need to work harder to earn back the trust and loyalty of clients. They need to stop increasing their fees and do more research when issuing mortgages. The job outlook for RIAs and wirehouses is more positive. Especially after the financial crisis stemming from bad mortgages in 2008, people are weary of the stock market and are looking for an educated planner to help make solid recommendations. People are looking for the relationship that an RIA has the potential to offer.

What will the financial advisory industry look like in 10 years?

In 10 years the original group of financial planners will be retired and our generation of financial planners will be established and continue the current success of planners today. I think there will be a greater use of technology, especially to reach out to a younger generation of potential clients who currently rely on technology to communicate daily. I hope that more people will seek a financial planner early on in their careers, so that they can be better prepared for their retirement as well as better prepared for the unexpected. I think that the financial advisory industry will still work with high net-worth clients, but hopefully will have developed a platform to help people with all levels of income receive the advice needed to feel financially secure.

STUDENT #6: Josh Landau

Age: 21 / Grade: Senior

School: University of San Diego / Major: Finance & Accountancy

What is your ideal career?

After college, I plan on starting my career in either public accounting or with an RIA shadowing an advisor and eventually succeeding them and taking over their business. The long-term goal is to eventually become a financial planner when I have built up a strong network of potential clients.  In the short-term, I want to begin my career in a place where I can attain as much industry knowledge as possible, so that I will be in a good place when the time comes to start my own RIA firm. With one year left in my undergrad, I already have one full-time offer at a Silicon Valley based accounting, consulting, and financial services firm. Another fruitful career idea that has been discussed would be to work for my uncle’s accounting and financial planning firm and take his practice over upon his retirement.

What was your reaction to winning TD Ameritrade’s scholarship?

The amount won was $5,000. When I found out I was one of the recipients of this award, I was extremely appreciative and elated. In today’s economy, the rising costs of secondary education (especially at a private institution like USD) is immense. This scholarship will drastically help me to alleviate some student debt post-graduation and I could not be more grateful to TD Ameritrade. Having had the opportunity to intern with TD Ameritrade last summer, I was fortunate to see what a terrific company they are and see that they really do care about their people and their clients. Winning this scholarship was the cherry on top for me with TD Ameritrade. I was extremely impressed by the company while I was working for them, and for them to give back to me in this way just solidified my views towards them.

What do you see as the biggest challenge career-wise right now? How will you overcome it?

Becoming a financial planner straight out of college seems like a very difficult thing to do successfully. With a large amount of advisors around the country and many experienced, successful advisors to choose from, it seems very hard to gain clients right out of college.  After all, one would be much more inclined to work with someone with 30 years of industry experience as opposed to someone straight out of college.  Because of this challenge, I think it may be best for me to start my career apprenticing with a financial planner to gain as much experience as possible, or start in an accounting or financial services firm, build up a strong network of potential clients, and then get into the financial planning field down the road.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity career-wise right now?

There is a need for financial planners and advisors now more than ever.  With the amount needed to retire on the rise and continuing to grow, there is a big opportunity to gain clients and help them realize their financial goals. Going forward, there will always continue to be a need for financial planners and there will always be room to grow and attain new clients.

What, in general, are today’s financial planners doing wrong?

I think some financial planners are too focused on how much money they have under management and are very focused on their commissions and fees rather than what is in their clients’ best interests. 

What were your reasons for going into financial planning?

Since a very young age, I have always been passionate about finance. Specifically, seeing my grandparents extremely strapped for cash and unable to save enough to retire made me frustrated. Even to this day, I am constantly in situations where I see friends and family in bad financial situations due to improper budgeting. As a very organized and detailed person, I enjoy analyzing finances and determining how people could best spend and save their money. Being able to create financial plans that ultimately lead to making people’s lives better is what I thrive off.  If I can help someone to save more money and manage their finances better, they can in turn live an easier life and be able to pass on money to their family and to their communities. 

What university programs helped you most? What did you wish you had more help with at your university to pursue your chosen career, if anything?

As a small, private institution like the University of San Diego, it is sometimes hard to find a great deal of classes that deal specifically with financial planning. I am a double major in finance and accountancy which allows me to understand the business world from a broader view, whereas I wish I had a more in-depth look at financial planning at my school.  The university program that actually helped me the most is kind of a funny story. My brother was attending the University of Arizona as a pre-business major while I was still a senior in high school.  Having heard from him that there was an internship program through University of Arizona at Merrill Lynch that involved shadowing financial advisors, I decided to apply (although the internship was specifically for U of A juniors and seniors). Merrill Lynch was kind enough to offer me an interview because of my determination and, after interviewing, they actually offered me the internship. This gave me a great inside-view of the financial planning world at a very young age. I was able to work with client portfolios and sharpen my industry skills, which gave me a great jump on starting my career.

What did your school do to help you get a job?  

Because University of San Diego is such a small university, they do an excellent job with their career services department. I am constantly in touch with the career counselors who help polish our resumes, build our networks, and prepare us for our careers. The school has a database with a vast number of job openings, of which we are able to apply. Because of this tool, I have been able to garner multiple internship and job opportunities.  In fact, it was through this USD database that I was able to get my internship at TD Ameritrade Institutional. Thus, you could say that if it was not for my school’s help, I would have never worked at TDAI or have gotten this scholarship.

What is your college doing to help you get certified?

Personally, as a double major in finance and accountancy, I have seen my school do an excellent job promoting the CPA on the accountancy side, but do not see much influence on the finance side to get the CFP certification.  Although the CFP is not widely talked about at my school, I have taken the necessary steps to find out what I need to do to pass my CFP and get started on my career path as a financial planner.

What’s the job outlook from your perspective – for both RIAs, wirehouses and banks? How do you view the opportunities available to you?

I think with the economy finally getting its footing back, now is a great time for students my age pursuing careers in the financial services industry to get jobs.  On the RIA side, the industry is growing at a rapid pace, as can be seen with how TD Ameritrade Institutional continues to gain more and more RIA clients. I think the RIA industry is the future of financial planning, while the need for big wirehouses and bank’s services may diminish.  For advisors, the RIA route seems much more appealing compared to wirehouses because there is greater opportunity to grow your business independently without being forced to pay commissions back to the company and be told how your client’s should invest their money.  I think at this point in time, more than ever, RIA’s are in search for young talent to join their companies and eventually succeed the advisors upon their retirement.

What will the financial advisory industry look like in 10 years?

I think the future of the financial advisory industry in 10 years looks very promising. With the amount of money needed to retire on the rise, people will be in need more than ever for financial advice.  In addition to the need for retirement planning, there will be an increase in the need for college planning. With college tuition rates increasing at two to three times the rate of inflation, there will be a deep need for financial advice related to college savings plans.

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