With increasingly fewer exceptions, professionals are expected to earn a four-year university degree from a program accredited to educate people entering the field. And, in the cases of law and medicine, barriers to entry are even higher.
Society applauds such rigorous requirements because they prevent people who aren’t serious about cultivating key skill sets from earning a living in work that requires deep knowledge, a high level of personal commitment, and ethics.
Why should the standards be different for professionals who handle other people’s money?
They aren’t, of course, at least not deliberately. A high percentage of investment advisors are university educated; with most holding Commerce degrees and many delving into higher mathematics while earning their Bachelors.
But for some reason, the university system in Canada has failed to provide an accredited four-year undergraduate program that gives robust training for students interested in pursing the myriad career avenues offered by personal wealth management.
Right now, college-level and university extension programs bravely fill the gap. They’re giving younger people, and those looking for a career change, training to enter financial services; and students emerge with meaningful designations that benefit an industry looking to burnish its professional image. Given the downsizing that’s plagued a lot of brick and mortar industries across Canada, this is an incredible service to the economy.
Educational opportunities also exist at the graduate level, largely through MBA programs, but these courses of study are geared more toward developing skill sets needed to manage advisory firms, as opposed to facing clients.
A four-year undergraduate program could do much to instill a sense of fiduciary responsibility, by breaking down the lessons of investment theory and process over a longer period for potential industry entrants. Such training would reduce risk factors for firms and decrease the need for monotonous transaction-oriented compliance checks – allowing regulators to concentrate on criminal outliers that no one wants in this industry.
It would also simplify the recruiting process for all advisory channels. Students would complete programs and proceed to campus job fairs with both identifiable skill sets and defined career goals.
Accredited courses of study at major universities will clearly present to Canadian students that becoming an advisor is a serious career option. And such a program will finally help the industry answer the long-asked question of where the next generation of advisors will come from.