Two years ago, FSI President and CEO Dale Brown and our Board saw an opportunity for growth within our industry. More women and minorities joined the industry every year, but the growth rates have been slow, meaning that these groups are still chronically underrepresented.
And with an estimated one-third of financial advisors expected to retire by 2030, there was a window of opportunity to help firms find opportunities to recruit and train more women and people of color. So, Brown and the Board took action to expand diversity and inclusion (D&I) within the industry, creating a formal initiative devoted to the issue.
As part of the initiative, we formed a partnership with INROADS, a non-profit organization founded in 1970 dedicated to advancing the professional success of underserved youth by helping them develop leadership skills, secure paid internships and get hired by corporations.
One Firm’s Internship Program Experience
Cetera Advisor Networks, a part of the Cetera Financial Group, is one of the first member firms to take advantage of our alliance with INROADS. Over the summer, the firm launched a successful internship program for 12 students.
It lasted eight weeks and included a mix of in-person and remote participants. Each intern had the opportunity to learn more about the firm and how the financial services industry operated.
“These were project-based internships,” said Tim Stinson, President of Cetera Advisor Networks. “The goal was to give young people an opportunity to learn about all the things our industry has to offer, not just to investors, but young professionals. Then, one day, they may want to become advisors themselves.”
The summer interns were assigned a mentor and placed in the firm’s finance, operations, sales, growth, product or risk departments. At the end of the program, each participant was required to give a presentation based on what they learned.
“We measured success by looking at their development,” Stinson said. “But the other big key will be conversion rate — do they come back as a summer or part-time employee? And from there, do they stay in the financial services industry? It’s a way for us to achieve more diversity at Cetera.”
Be a Part of the FSI-Inroads Partnership
While the industry still has work to do to increase the number of women and minorities in the financial services industry, our alliance with INROADS is one step toward creating meaningful change. Given the issue’s importance, Stinson encourages other member firms to get involved, regardless of the organization’s size.
“No firm is too small to do this,” he said. “You have to begin somewhere. This is a must-do for our profession. If you have people on your team who are interested in D&I, then get them involved in creating an internship program.”
If you would like to learn more about how your firm can collaborate with INROADS to establish an internship or mentorship program, please fill out this form. INROADS will work closely with your firm to build a road map that reflects your firm’s specific goals, challenges and opportunities.