Adviser Carina Diamond says her firm has hired more than half of its interns for full-time roles
Carina Diamond is managing director at SS&G Wealth Management in Akron, Ohio. Voices are an occasional feature of edited excerpts in which wealth managers address issues of interest to the advisory community.
At my practice, we have made a point of taking on at least one intern at any given time. I find that most firms don’t use interns and if they do, it isn’t in a structured or purposeful manner. Yet it’s important to bring on young talent to ensure the quality, diversity and longevity of your practice. Through an involved program and training, we have been able to hire more than half of our interns to full-time roles.
Some advisers hesitate to hire interns because they’re simply unsure how to source or screen them. You should be able to find strong candidates at any local university with finance major. Build contacts at these schools so you can stay in the loop on upcoming career fairs or other activities designed to connect students with employers. Then, when you have a pool of applicants, don’t just look for the ones with the highest grades. Look for individuals who are open to learning and who can articulate what they gained from their other work experiences thus far, however modest.
A great way to structure your interns’ time is to give them varied exposure to the different sides of your practice. There will inevitably be an administrative component to the work they do, but you should also try to involve them in other business areas, such as operations, client relations and compliance. By doing so, you will enhance their experience and increase the chance that they find a career track in our industry that suits them. You will also potentially deepen the level of support they provide you in the future.
While it’s important to give your interns substantive work, I believe it’s also important to compensate them for their efforts. A reasonable hourly rate makes a difference in the quality of the candidates you attract and instills in them greater loyalty and accountability for their assignments.
Of course, there are challenges with using interns, given their lack of professional experience. One way to work with particularly green individuals is have them start by taking notes for you during client meetings. After the meetings, review the interns’ notes with them to make sure they captured all the highlights of the conversation. Not only does this serve a practical purpose for you, it gives them an invaluable way to learn how our profession works and how they may develop within it.
An effective internship program can be a critical part of succession planning at your practice. Given the projected shortage of financial advisers in coming years, succession is becoming a hot topic in our field. More clients are asking whether their adviser has a succession plan in place to ensure continued oversight of their assets further down the road. By taking on young professionals and developing them into junior roles, you can effectively address this issue while generating valuable new talent for your business in the short term.
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