Potentially to be filed under the category of necessity being the mother of invention, the Financial Planning Association, in partnership with TD Ameritrade Institutional, is rolling out a “virtual externship” program to fill the void created by all the cancelled and postponed internships otherwise scheduled for this summer.
The externship program, which is scheduled to run for eight weeks beginning June 1, will tap into the expertise from “practitioner mentors” from across the industry to provide about 20 hours per week of training and education that will be applied toward the CFP certification requirements.
“Even in challenging times like we’ve got now, our mission is to attract and develop the next generation of financial planners,” said Kate Healy, managing director of Generation Next at TD, the program sponsor.
While some registered investment advisers are adapting to the COVID-19 shutdowns by creating their own virtual internships, Healy said nationwide, across all industries, an estimated 75% of internship programs have been postponed, shortened and converted to a virtual format.
Hannah Moore, owner of Guiding Wealth, has so far secured commitments from nearly a dozen advisers to participate during the virtual programming, which will include a blend of online learning sessions and case study assignments, software training, office hours and even virtual happy hours.
“We’ve asked the planners to engage within the virtual community,” she said. “We don’t just want to have a series of webinars.”
The eight-week schedule is as follows: Investment planning, insurance and risk management planning, client communication and care, cash flow planning, student loan planning and college planning, retirement planning, tax planning, and estate planning.
The program is free to FPA members. Students will be charged $39, which includes a one-year FPA membership.
The externship program was developed in response to the coronavirus that cancelled internships and even postponed some recent grads from starting work at firms where they have been hired.
Healy and Moore are already seeing the upside of the fledgling virtual program as a way to teach veteran advisers ways to better embrace virtual communications by allowing the tech-savvy younger would-be planners to lead the way.
“The next generation grew up online, so the virtual part will be easy for them,” Healy said. “I think this is a model we’ll be able to replicate and be able to connect advisers with interns all over the country, and it could provide year-round opportunities.”