Intern Perspectives

Schwab independent advisor interns offer advice on attracting the next generation of talent.

A group of interns at IMPACT.


As a group of interns with a strong desire to enter this industry, our purpose here is to provide independent investment advisor firms with insights into what our generation is looking for in a firm, as well as best practices to retain us.


Recruiting Challenges

The investment advisor channel is one of the fastest-growing areas in financial services. Attracting and developing the next generation of talent will be key to firms’ continuity and long-term success—but we see some challenges for firms. 

One challenge is relying on campus recruiting. While it seems like a great way for firms to meet students, smaller independent investment advisor firms get lost in the crowd because they’re often competing with highly financed and well-known brokerage firms.

Another challenge is that most independent investment advisor firms do not have a human resources department that can focus on hiring. Instead hiring and onboarding often fall on the hiring manager, who may not have the time or experience to hire and train less experienced employees. Training and development are important to our generation, so to attract us firms need to offer strong programs to help us succeed, grow, and stay with the company.

Next-Gen Expectations

A main concern of those of  us considering a career in the independent advisor channel is finding work with a competitive salary and bonus structure that’s comparable with that of peers’ who work for large wirehouses. New hires out of college generally expect to earn an annual salary of $60,000 to $80,000 within two years of joining a firm. 

We have an expectation that the firm will help pay for educational requirements, like covering CFP® certifications, and we also want firms to provide a clear career path that helps us understand how to grow our career and get to the next level. In terms of competitive differentiation, firms that define and communicate what the path to partnership looks like will be much more attractive to us.

Young people today seek more from their employer than financial and professional benefits. We want a welcoming, innovative company culture that we can see and feel. The best and brightest among us have the luxury of choice, especially in a competitive labor market. So it’s essential that firms foster a work environment that their employees rave about outside the workplace. The firm’s vision, values, and culture should be evident and exude from the chief executive officer to the front-office receptionist. And firms must brand themselves as inclusive, contemporary, and forward-thinking industry leaders. While offering a competitive salary may attract us to the position, it’s a firm’s culture that keeps us fulfilled and productive for the long term.


Man atop the world speaking in a megaphone.

Best Practices to Attract Next-Gen Employees

Best Practices to Attract Next-Gen Employees

Offer Internships

Offering paid internships will help drive awareness of the industry and draw students to your firm much more effectively than just participating in campus recruiting events. Internships provide handson experience for the student while allowing the firm to evaluate the interns’ capabilities, skills, personal character, and fit with the firm culture. Students who have great experiences will be advocates for those firms on campus. Reach out to faculty at local or regional universities to partner on internship programs and include internships as part of your firm’s recruiting process. 

Define Career Paths

New hires out of college want to see how others progressed in their careers and to know what they need to accomplish at each level to eventually advance to leadership and partner positions. Having a clearly defined career path that others have success-fully taken is a powerful motivator for us.

Promote Your Firm’s Unique Brand

Your firm’s brand can help attract younger employees and clients. You can broadcast your brand and convey your firm’s values, mission, and culture through the language and photos on your website, in your marketing and recruiting collateral, and in your public relations and social media.

Highlighting your firm’s unique culture and how you differ from others can help cut through the noise and speak directly to our generation. 

Embrace Technology

Having a culture in which technology is prioritized will appeal to next-generation employees. We grew up using technology, and we value its ability to improve the client experience and enable business growth. We may avoid firms whose technology appears dated, as this can indicate a firm’s resistance to change and inability to see all the benefits of technology. Independent investment advisors can show their commitment to technology by including it in their mission statement, highlighting it during the interview process, and promoting technology advancements to staff, clients, university partners, and the public when appropriate.

Foster an Employee Referral Culture

Most of us just graduating from college have huge networks of friends who are, or will be, seeking employment in the near future, and good news travels fast on college campuses. If your firm has the culture sought by recent graduates, your positive reputation will grow, and more students will be interested in working for you. Employee referral incentives can drive qualified candidates to your firm and maybe even spark some friendly competition among your employees.