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Can offering internships benefit a firm?

BALTIMORE – Most RIA firms know they need new blood, but when it comes to interns, employers can be reluctant to spend time and energy to train aspiring advisers. Internship programs, though, can bring many benefits to companies and young workers, say planners who have run them.

Some say internship programs more than pay for themselves.
Social Tables Inc. engineers work at the company's headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014. Success stories like Social Tables' are going to get rarer as older businesses overshadow start-ups in U.S. job creation. Millennials, those born after 1980, may find it more difficult to quickly scale career ladders as new businesses, which tend to employ more young workers, become a smaller force in the labor market. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for our staff to learn some of the management concepts as they move up the career track,” said Jon Yankee, partner and CEO of FJY Financial at FPA’s annual conference. “It’s a great way to have our younger advisers learn somethings they otherwise would not be able to without this opportunity.”

He said that his firm aims to help young people get acquainted with the industry, and that the opportunity to mentor gives employees a chance to grow. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for our staff to learn some of the management concepts as they move up the career track,” said Yankee. “It’s a great way to have our younger advisers learn somethings they otherwise would not be able to without this opportunity.”

Elissa Buie, CEO of Yeske Buie, said she encourages all RIA firms to let interns meet with clients and perform some planning-related work.

“It is so important to offer internships [in which] the students get actual exposure to what financial planning really is,” she said. In addition, interns can tackle some grunt work.

Should I ... hire an intern

“Internship programs more than pay for themselves,” said Drew Cook, principal and director of investment management at Berman McAleer. “Quality people are quality people. If you find them, particularly young, it really helps.”

RIA owners and advisers can help mold interns into a role that fits with the firm if there is an opening.

PAY THEM, OR NOT?
All three experts agreed that interns must be paid.

“The amount of work that interns do far exceeds what we actually compensate them for,” Cook said.

The firm owners said it’s worth the money and effort in the long run.

“My time is the most valuable within the firm,” said Cook. “If they can take anything off my plate, it’s a win-win.”

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