I am especially excited to share this episode of YAFPNW with all of you, as it was recorded at the FPA Annual Conference. The FPA Annual Conference is a great place to be if you want to pick the brains of an entire group of leaders who are really passionate about strengthening the financial planning community and creating successful paths for the next generation. 

Joining us were the session hosts, Brent Weiss, CFP® and Kayla Kennelly, CFP® from Facet Wealth, along with Bryan Hasling, CFP® from JW Harrison and Dan Yerger, CFP® from My Wealth Planners.

Christine Sjolin, CFP® from FP Transitions also joined us, and she’s a self-described advocate of the financial planning community. She helped take the reins for this episode to talk about the conference and one of my personal favorite sessions, the NexGen Mini-Talks. 

Each participant briefly touched on what they presented in their session at the conference. Brent and Kayla talked about their ‘crazy’ goal — putting a CFP® professional in every household. One of the ways they’re hoping to accomplish that goal is by developing the next generation of talent — a perfect segue into Bryan’s topic, which really honed in on how to do just that. Finally, Dan explained that his presentation was about challenging financial planners to ask better questions — not only for the good of themselves, but for the good of their clients.  


Where’s the positive perception?

When it comes to grooming the next generation of financial planners, everyone on this panel was in agreement that the community faces a lot of challenges — the biggest one being retention. And that problem likely comes from a negative perception of the profession as a whole. As Brent put it, today’s leaders need to find a way to make financial planning “sexy” to younger generations. Because right now, they don’t get that vibe.

Dan made a great point, saying that there are barely any role models that exist in the field for what it means to be a “good CFP®.” We only see stories that focus on billionaire criminals who get away with their stunts or accountants who help launder money. Brent added that it’s funny (although not funny at all) that regulatory bodies don’t let us share success stories with the public, but they can easily tell stories of the Bernie Madoffs of the world. Which is maybe why talented, younger individuals aren’t interested in the profession. 


Building a solid foundation

Another hurdle in the financial planning community that we touched on is the common misconception that financial planning is only for wealthy families. Christine pointed out that there’s an identity crisis of sorts, and that all people can benefit from a financial planner — not just those who are working towards financial independence or early retirement. 

Bryan added that financial planners tend to look at the entire picture (thanks to their CFP® training), instead of focusing on a client’s problem at that particular moment in time. Oftentimes, Bryan says, all it takes is helping younger clients build a foundation and to get them on a plan they don’t have to worry about for several more years. Even if that means it’s just a one-hour conversation, that client is still an investment that will pay off in the long-term.


The marketing gap

A really interesting theme we touched on throughout the episode was the fact that so many financial planners are having completely different experiences in the field. There are planners like Bryan who describe themselves as very well-groomed because he had a lot of one-on-one time with his hiring manager. But when talking to his friends who weren’t seeing as much success, he found that many of them didn’t get the same personal attention and coaching that he did. This plays into the role of mentorship, as well as how many bigger firms put more money into attracting talent than cultivating it.

As a result of this marketing push, most young professionals think they should go for the bigger, more well-known firms for their first jobs (they seem more accessible, after all!). But these NexGen professionals end up getting bogged down by bureaucracy and have fewer opportunities to do what they want to do. Bryan made a strong point that those same people may be overlooking smaller, mom-and-pop shops that are so busy focusing on their clients that they don’t have time to market themselves. But it’s in those businesses that you might get better, more direct attention and opportunities. 


Communities, conversations, and a little crazy

While we were discussing the marketing gap, the group also pointed out how good marketing should come from positive conversations inside strong communities. I asked Brent and Kayla about their idea of placing a financial planner in every household and what that looks like as a business model, as well as how they’re planning to market it.

Although Brent isn’t quite sure what that looks like yet, he knows it needs to include starting a conversation. He even mentioned some feedback he got about his idea, and how one person pointed out that he was “crazy” for even coming up with it. Which, to him, was exactly what he wanted. Because although it’s a “crazy idea,” at least it’s starting the conversation. 

Christine agreed that she loved that larger vision. She mentioned that the very people in the room with us during this episode are the ones who can figure this out. By having conversations with younger generations, focusing on a stronger community, using their energy to make the profession better, and serving more clients… I think it’s entirely possible! Don’t you?


Advice to young planners

Because everyone had such strong thought leadership throughout the episode, I asked them what they would want new planners to know, and each of their answers really resonated with me.

For Brent, he wants younger generations to challenge the status quo — to think bigger, and to think different. I added that I truly believe people coming into this career can make a difference by having a voice, and Christine agreed that it’s important for financial planning advocates to use their voice as well. She also added acknowledging the effort that younger generations are putting forward is critical, too.

Dan’s take on this question is advice to employers. The message? Simple. “Take care of your people and your people will take care of your business.”


What You’ll Learn:

  • More about the hosts of the Mini-Talk Sessions at the FPA Annual Conference 
  • What each of the speakers talked about during their session
  • How to successfully develop the next generation of talent in the CFP® community
  • The challenges of bringing in and retaining good talent
  • Common misconceptions about CFP® professionals and their impact on the profession
  • The value of investing in NexGen planners
  • What younger planners can do to pave a stronger path to success
  • The marketing gap in financial planning
  • Pros and cons of smaller vs. larger firms
  • Advice for the next generation of financial planners (and employers, too!)


Show Notes:

In this episode of YAFPNW, I talked to a group of NexGen leaders about: