Human Capital Roundtable: Fun Summer Internships Yield Serious Results

Julius Buchanan, Managing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report

Hightower, Commonwealth and LaSalle St. Describe How Summer Internships Promote Next Generation Recruiting and Learning Opportunities for Interns and Firms 

“Where will the next generation of advisors and professionals come from?” – It’s an evergreen question that has taken on a greater level of urgency in wealth management, which has a high average advisor age.  

By all accounts, a significant percentage of financial advisors are looking to retire in the next few years.  And as wealth management firms seek next gen talent at both the advisor and home office levels, the value of summer internship programs is rising.

We surveyed top executives in a recent Human Capital Roundtable on firms’ internship programs and how they can ladder up directly to future org development, diversity goals and more.

Equally important, we also explored how firms can structure internship programs to make the learning both dynamic and a two-way street.

Our Panelists

Our panelists for the Roundtable included:

We asked each of them the following questions:

“How does your firm’s internship program benefit the industry’s drive to recruit the next generation of advisors and professionals?  What successes has your internship program in past years produced in terms of interns deciding to pursue education and careers in the wealth management industry? What expectations do you have for the current interns?”

Sarah Musante, Chief Human Resources Officer, Hightower

Sarah Musante, Chief Human Resources Officer, Hightower Advisors

The Hightower Internship program has grown over the past several years. This year, for approximately 30 spots, we had over 8900 applications! 

The program is a mix of working within defined departments (Marketing, Investment Solutions, Operations and Finance – just to name a few) and cross-functional learning opportunities including lunches with the executive team to give perspective on different career paths. 

We also include visits to other Chicago-based offices within our industry, and include some fun (like a night at a Cubs game). 

We have hired a number of our interns over the past two years and are so lucky to have the opportunity to have “proven talent” ready to hit the ground running after college graduation! 

Next-gen advisors understand next-gen investors!

The opportunity to share all the facets of wealth management has made a great impact on our ability to hire strong next-generation talent – in turn, we’ve benefitted from their unique perspectives especially as we focus on next-gen advisors and investors. 

We are chronicling our interns’ adventures this year in our blog

Jane Moyer, SVP, Chief Human Resources Officer, Commonwealth

Jane Moyer, Senior Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer, Commonwealth Financial Network

At Commonwealth, we have been very successful at recruiting interns that bring fresh ideas and energy to us. 

We actively seek interns from different majors and experiences because we believe it is an advantage and we are committed to adding more depth to our program year over year. 

Hands on learning!

And with that, we became more intentional about our internship program and in 2021 we more than doubled the percentage of ethnically diverse interns to 39% of the class, and increased the representation of women to 43%.

Our expectations are for them to learn through doing and to let us learn from them, too. Ultimately our internship program is an important part of our overall hiring and growth strategy at Commonwealth.

Mark Contey, Senior Vice President, Head of Business Development, LaSalle St.

Mark Contey, SVP, Head of Business Development, LaSalle St.

Many college students have a general view of finance or economics, but they have not been exposed to the nuances and day-to-day operations of their application within the financial services industry. 

Their exposure to the world of finance tends to be limited to the most exciting aspects of what makes the headlines, and they know less about the foundational infrastructure firms like ours provide to support those helping clients build wealth. 

LaSalle St. provides compliance, operations, accounting and business development services – not exactly the stuff of high-drama Hollywood depictions of our industry.

Time to apply that knowledge!

Importantly, we show students there are many components to the financial services industry – our program helps students identify a career path they may want to explore or not explore upon graduation. 

Several of our former interns have become LaSalle St. employees after college. We currently have two, but there have been many others who have served in full-time positions with our reps and advisors around the country. Other former interns have also gone on to roles within the financial services industry.

We’ve designed our summer internship program to provide students with tangible skills they can take back to school and knowledge they can use to guide their career choices upon graduation. Each year we identify projects that we need to complete to deliver better services to our reps and advisors, and then we hire interns to assist in that work. 

This year our interns are doing advisor outreach as part of a recruiting campaign, working with the marketing team on social networking, assisting the compliance division and helping the operations department. We want our interns to leave with a better understanding and appreciation of what it is like to work in an actual firm.
Julius Buchanan, Managing Editor at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at jbuchanan@wealthsolutionsreport.com

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