Last month’s article discussed the benefits of intern programs for financial planning firms. This month we will look at specific projects your intern can do to help alleviate some of your workload. Here are some project ideas that you might consider having your intern work on to maximize your time and their experience:
Document processes, sequences, procedures, etc. This is a no brainer if you have someone new come aboard and they are talking to everyone trying to figure out what everyone does - have them simply write it all down for future interns and other employees’ job descriptions. This is the first step in transforming a practice into a business.
Compare various software packages. Depending how far the student is through their CFP Board registered program coursework, they often have a lot of exposure to various financial planning software packages. Have them show you what they know if you are considering adding financial planning software or are looking to make a change. Consider their input on your decision by having them write up a recommendation on which program they would choose. I did this with an intern many years ago when I was looking at implementing Junxure CRM and it was a big time saver.
Develop newsletter and/or add to existing content. For firms that don’t subscribe to newsletter content services, this can be a good way for your intern to add value since searching for content is rarely a good use of a senior planner’s time. Tell the intern to review your past newsletters so they can see the content, style and flow then have them go out and find relevant content. If they are a Gen Y’r, remember they are the “internet generation” and extremely tech savvy. Let them do what they are good at so you can do what you are good at!
Participate in client meetings. It is much easier for senior advisors to run a client meeting and focus on the client when they don’t have to worry about taking notes. Have your intern sit in on client meetings with you. Yes, both new and existing clients. I was given the opportunity to participate in client meetings in my internship when I was still learning what financial planning was all about. This helped solidify my choice of and passion for financial planning as well as the confidence my intern sponsor had in me. If you are open to the idea but still a little uncomfortable, don’t shutter, make sure the intern knows that their role is simply to take notes and observe. Many firms are doing this currently and you would be surprised at how receptive most clients are to it.
Help with quarterly reporting. Sending out quarterly reports is a time intensive process. There are many tools now that automate most of this function, but if firms are not utilizing those - having an extra pair of hands can be helpful here. It’s fine to have your intern print, staple, and mail the reports. If they turn their nose up at this, let that be a sign to you that they may not be a good fit long term because in most small offices, everyone has to have a “no job is beneath me” attitude. However, make sure you take the time to explain what the data on the report means and how it is generated, the report’s purpose, and overall impact on the firm.
What everyone else does not want to do. Interns should be exposed to all aspects of the firm. That means the good, the bad and the ugly. It is imperative that they understand that client meetings are not the only function at an advisory firm. This is why it is so important for firms to keep a running list of the tasks that no one wants to do. The right intern will attack that list with gazelle like intensity! (thanks Dave Ramsey J)
P.S. here is an article that points out the requirements for an internship based on the Fair Labor Standards Act that also discusses the issue of not paying interns.
- Caleb will be presenting a live webinar on “How to hire an Advisor” for the BackOffice Advisor Practice Management Study Group on July 6th at 2pm ET.
- Look for Caleb and Michael at the Nexgen Gathering July 15th-17th in Minnesota
- Caleb will be presenting a live webinar on “How to hire and keep new advisers” for AICPA on Wednesday August 31st at 1pm ET.