I met Minneapolis advisor Jon Guyton, CFP® 14 years ago in a hotel bar in Hershey, Penn., where we were attending a conference, and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. Guyton is best known for his articles in the Journal of Financial Planning on safe withdrawal rates for retirees. Last week, I called Guyton and he told me about a “residency” program he recently initiated that provides his growing three-professional firm with a bright but inexperienced financial planning professional while providing the recent college graduate with fair wages and a career path.
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Guyton’s one of these people who is almost always happy. He makes stuff work and obviously loves doing so. His positive attitude attracts good people and opportunity. The CFP® residency, a win-win idea, is typical Guyton.
In addition to Guyton, Cornerstone Wealth Advisors employs two CFPs® and the firm manages about $120 million. Guyton says the two employees handle 80% or 90% of the advisory relationships and client meetings But hiring a third experienced and skilled professional to accommodate the firm growth would be expensive and hurt profitability.
“I wanted someone who wasn’t just able handle administrative tasks, but who could also create a tax pro forma or make notes about a will the client had written and work up numbers for a client’s withdrawal rate rate,” says Guyton. “We wanted someone with some technical knowledge but who wanted to learn about financial planning.”
Guyton realized that his need could be an opportunity for a recent college graduate who need work experience to become a licensed CFP®. “I didn’t know if we had a career track for another advisor position,” he says. “So I created a residency similar to a training period doctors must go through,” Says Guyton. “We were totally up front in telling the candidates that we didn’t know if they’d have a way to advance their career after three or five years. We could meet our firm’s need and create the resume for a new planner that will make them very attractive to other firms down the road.”
Guyton referenced the FPA compensation study to find the right salary level for such a position. Figuring the job amounted to a combination of an administrative staffer, paraplanner, and planner with one year of experience, Guyton set a starting salary that averaged these three positions. He added a 10% salary increase after six months and another chance for an increase after a year.
Guyton found contact information for the program directors at colleges accredited by the CFP Board of Standards and sent them all the job description. Of 32 applicants who responded, five were from Virginia Tech. Other CFP programs with a strong showing of candidates were University of Georgia, Ohio State and Texas Tech, he says. Twelve of the 32 were interviewed over the phone and three finalists were flown in for in-person interviews
Guyton says the young lady he hired was provided with relocation stipend and started work after Memorial Day. “It’s working out really well,” says Guyton.