The financial challenges and decisions faced by Main Street families and small businesses are more complex than ever. People need services and advice, and insurance and financial advisors are crucial to helping them make some of life’s most important decisions to ensure their financial security. But our industry could face a troubling shortage of qualified and motivated professionals.
The average financial advisor is 55 years old, and around 20% of these professionals are age 65 or older. Cerulli Associates has projected that more than 110,000 will retire over the next decade. Meanwhile, the demand for advisory services is expected to increase by up to one-third over the same time frame. It is clear that we need to prepare the next generation of financial professionals to take over.
However, that is not always easy. Many students who are smart, motivated and planning their post-graduation lives are largely unaware of insurance and financial services as a career option. Compounding the problem, many established firms are reluctant to bring on younger advisors.
When you ask students what they are looking for in a career, you often hear responses that align very well with positions in our industry. Of course, students say they want a career that allows them to make a good living. They also say they want to help people and make a difference in the lives of others. They are looking for flexibility and independence. They want to be in control of creating their own success. A career in financial services checks all the boxes.
And these students bring a lot to the table for their potential employers. They provide insights and inroads to serving a younger, more diverse clientele. They are technologically savvy. Effective planning for younger families and individuals requires interacting with these prospective clients using technology they are comfortable with as well as creating lifelong relationships.
When advisors create connections with clients at a relatively early age, they are involved in all their clients’ major adult decisions — getting married, buying a home, having children, sending those children to college, preparing for a happy retirement, all the way down the line to leaving a meaningful financial legacy. Financial planning no longer starts when clients approach retirement age. To attract this new generation of clients, a new generation of advisors is crucial.
It benefits our entire industry to encourage and support our next generation of insurance and financial professionals. One way to do this is by working directly with colleges and universities. I have established a strong relationship with my alma mater, Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn. I work with students in the finance program there to help them understand the benefits of a financial services career. I talk about my own career as a financial professional and assure them that help is available, from mentorships to professional association memberships.
I encourage these students to participate in NAIFA’s Future Leaders program, which provides free educational and professional development sessions for those considering a career in the industry, and I urge them to take advantage of NAIFA’s student membership category.
As seasoned insurance and financial services professionals, we have dedicated our careers to helping our clients achieve financial security and prosper. As we look to the future, we don’t want this good work to end. It is important that do what we can to encourage the next generation of advisors for the sake of our clients, our communities and the industry.