Conversation with The President: Supporting The Lifelong Learning Journey

Conversation with The President: Supporting The Lifelong Learning Journey

Lifelong Learning Journey Financial Professional
Conversation with The President: Supporting The Lifelong Learning Journey
George Nichols III
Apr 13, 2021

The College’s mission of lifelong learning means providing the applied financial knowledge and education that matters across a professional’s career, no matter his or her client base, specialty areas, years of experience, or assets under management. Applied knowledge means practical, relevant, rigorous coursework that delivers utility benefits that increase technical acumen and business benefits that teach you how to communicate the complex with clients and implement it in planning and product decisions.

In this installment of Conversation with the President, George Nichols III walks through a typical professional’s lifelong learning journey with The College, from the foundational to the advanced knowledge needed to establish a career, grow a business, and serve a client's best interests.

Jared Trexler: At the American College of Financial Services, we're always engaging in the conversation of the day, giving meaning to financial markets and the issues that matter. The paths and partnerships for these conversations are guided by President George Nichols III, the 10th President in The College's storied history. Today, George and I are sitting down for another conversation with the President. George, good to see you today.

George Nichols III: It's great being with you, Jared. Thank you for having me.

Jared: First, let's talk about the new advisor, whether it's a 20-something fresh out of college or a career-changing woman, military veteran, or person of color. How can The College engage them in a lifelong learning journey?

President Nichols: First, we’re so excited that someone would be joining this wonderful industry. We are very proud of the financial advisor space, and so when we get new entrants, it's always a thrill. Given our life-long experience with many of the companies, we typically know the training that they're receiving at the firm that they work for. And so we're looking at if you're new in the business, we would probably start a new advisor with the Financial Services Certified Professional® (FSCP®) designation, which really supports the learning they're getting from their company and the basics of being in the financial services space.

Jared: Okay, so let's frame this for the financial professional. I have my FSCP®, I have a few years under my belt in the business, perhaps I'm branching out to start my own RIA and I have a growing wealth management and legacy planning book. How can The College help me?

President Nichols: Given that you're a 10-year veteran in the business, and again, as you say, perhaps an RIA, you've a great level of experience already. Our focus there would be what are the specialties or areas that you’d be interested in going into? Would you want to really focus your wealth management practice around retirement? Would you want to focus it around philanthropy and legacy development? Would you want to focus it around small business planning and succession planning? So, we would sit down with you and understand where you'd like to take your practice, and then look at our content to say, "Here's where you can specialize and become more of an expert around those items that are important to your clients."

Jared: So finally, in this career progression, I'm a 20-year veteran. I have a big book of business of retiree clients who must navigate income needs, but also the complexity surrounding distribution and estate planning. I may be interested in a designation, but part of me just wants to narrow in on certain topics. How can I partner with The College?

President Nichols: Well, there's two ways that we would approach this with an advisor of your level of skill. One is even though you may not want a designation, we would want to talk to you about our Master of Science in Financial Services (MSFS). I’d define that to be a degree in advanced planning. And the reason we’d want to talk to you about that is that at the level you’re operating at, you're probably participating in a team concept. You've an accountant, you've got a lawyer involved, there are other members of your team, and you may be the team leader that's coordinating all of those activities. Well, we would want to put you in a place where we're helping you sharpen the skills around that advanced planning and that team leadership. The second component of this is that as we've been building modularization around all of our content, being able to sit down and say, "Well, alright, let's evaluate where you think I'm either rusty or I'm really not as sharp as I'd like to be." And then we can even customize programming around those particular areas for you so that as you go into these situations, you're at your best. For example, if you wanted to take a deep dive into retirement planning, we've got a 12-course program with Ed Slott, and this goes deep into the IRA space and it really can be a support to those who already have the RICP® designation. Or it could be viewed as an add-on to the current knowledge base that you have as you work with your clients and those that have IRAs.

Jared: George, that's a great point. This new 12-course program, Ed Slott and Company's IRA Success, takes a deep dive into retirement distribution tax planning. Over 42 million households, one in three, have an IRA. And it's a powerful retirement and legacy vehicle, or it could be a ticking tax time bomb, and it all depends on an advisor’s guidance. Thank you so much for joining us again, George, for a Conversation with the President, and we look forward to talking again soon.

President Nichols: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share how The American College of Financial Services is your lifelong learning partner.