These are unprecedented times for every industry, and global pandemic-related disruptions in financial markets and the economy have raised the stakes on the challenges facing finance professionals.
Bryant is presenting a special series of virtual panel discussions this summer, including alumni across different specialties in the finance field. The first discussion in the series – on the topic of financial planning – featured five young alumni who talked about their experiences as new professionals.
The June 3 event included Danielle Couture ’19, Case Consulting Analyst at MassMutual; Savanah Miles, ’19, CFP, Investment Consulting Services Associate at Anderson Consulting; Logan Ribeiro ’19, Financial Planning Specialist at Ameriprise Financial Services; Evan Soraci ’19, CFP, Financial Planning Associate at Ballentine Partners; and David Ferraro ’15, CFP, Wealth Planner at Ballentine Partners. Lindsey Coe ’21, a co-founder of the Financial Planning Association student chapter at Bryant, moderated the panel with assistance from Professors Mara Derderian, Director of the Financial Planning Program, and Peter Nigro, Ph.D.
They offered advice for both students and recent graduates, including keeping abreast of current events, trying out different roles in the industry, and staying plugged in to a robust community of professionals in the field to connect with prospective employers and mentors.
The alumni discussed their own career paths and what influenced them to make the career choices they’ve made along the way. They believe that the opportunities they had at Bryant – including everything from the breadth of courses that deliver exposure to a wide array of specialties, to internship opportunities, to preparation for licensing examinations – gave them a leg up in the job market.
“It’s very hard now to get a job without experience, so having the internship… makes a big difference,” Couture said. “Plus, it’s pretty big to walk into a job with licenses already secured.”
Still, Ferraro pointed out, you don’t start out with an expert level of knowledge. “Look for mentorship opportunities with those who will teach and train you, and help you become the best professional you can be,” he recommended.
The panelists agreed that financial planning, especially during a global pandemic, is a constantly shifting landscape. Each client has a different set of needs, goals, and expectations, and each has a different tolerance for risk. With the uncertainty brought about by the coronavirus and demonstrations across the US, informed decision-making has never been more important.
“If you’re not staying in tune with what’s happening in the world, there can be a disconnect between your perspective and the concerns your clients may have,” Ferraro said.
Miles concurred, adding that news headlines don’t always help resolve the ambiguity around decision making. “Keeping a long-term mindset has helped us and our clients feel some sense of relief in all of the uncertainty.”
Thanks to the breadth of a Bryant Finance Program background, graduates can go into just about any area of the field, Miles pointed out. Still, she recommended that students “take the CFP track. It’s easier to have taken those extra classes in school than to try to earn those education requirements later on.”
“Employers are super impressed that we have the Financial Planning track,” Couture added. “My coworker says almost weekly she wishes she’d had that opportunity.”
The virtual panel series is also exploring commercial banking, fixed income, and investments/ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance investing).