BLX Case Study
Mariner Wealth Advisors
Melissa Lang and Tracy Hutton
A Masterclass in Internship Excellence:
A Deep Dive Into the Benefits of DEIB
The BLX Internship Program is committed to increasing diversity within the financial planning profession to better reflect the population of our country. This is why BLX creates opportunities for Black and Latinx individuals to enter the industry while offering financial planning and investment advisory firms access to a broader range of skilled professionals from diverse backgrounds.
The BLX Program offers a turnkey talent pipeline that makes hiring your next great team member as painless as possible.
Insights from a recent conversation with Melissa Lang, director of recruiting, and Tracy Hutton, senior talent manager, with Mariner Wealth Advisors sheds additional light on how the BLX Internship Program worked for them – and why Mariner keeps returning year after year to engage with more interns. They provide nuanced perspectives on leveraging internships for talent cultivation and diversity enhancement.
Mariner Wealth Advisors’ approach to the BLX Internship Program exemplifies a strategic alignment with the firm's broader objectives. The program’s focus on diversifying talent pools and offering practical experience aligns with Mariner's commitment to cultivating a dynamic workforce of future financial planning leaders.
Interestingly, Lang and Hutton said that while Mariner has a robust campus recruiting strategy, they were not seeing the type of diversity they’d hoped for by targeting specific schools and regions. They were not getting in front of the diverse talent pool they desired until they started working with BLX. They posit that the lack of interest at some campuses might be due to generational, inaccurate, and/or outdated perceptions of the financial services industry. So, they are working hard to get the word out: Not all financial services firms are stodgy, soulless workplaces comprised predominately of males. Today’s wealth management firms are actually vibrant, inviting workplaces comprised of intelligent, dedicated people doing meaningful work for clients. Diversity in all forms – be it gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomics, culture or personal preferences – is the new norm, and Mariner believes this is something to be embraced and celebrated.
Lang highlights the growth that Mariner Wealth Advisors has experienced as they continue to participate in the BLX program. Matching applicants to their preferred location required a learning curve to ensure success in intern placements without compromising the quality of the internship experience. In some instances, based on a candidate's desired location and size of the office, the cost of living, even after providing a housing stipend, proved unaffordable.
This issue required a new awareness of the cost of living and resourceful problem-solving to support new interns. Mariner's strategy involved targeting larger cities with significant applicant pools to increase the likelihood of being able to extend an offer successfully. Mariner also offered hybrid and remote positions whenever possible.
The Internship Experience
Once onboard, interns are not confined to observational roles; they are immersed in the practical aspects of financial advisory work. This hands-on approach includes allowing interns to participate in client meetings and calls, providing a realistic view of the daily responsibilities of a financial advisor.
Additionally, Mariner ensures that interns gain experience across various departments. This enhances their understanding of the firm's operations and helps them identify their areas of interest and expertise. As Lang explained, this exposure is crucial for interns to understand the different career paths available within the firm, from client service associates to senior wealth advisors, operations or investment specialists. This open-ended approach allows interns to follow multiple paths within the organization.
Hutton attributes the success of the internship program to a thoughtful and flexible training program that requires the collaboration of many. With an experienced team and quality tools and resources, Mariner continues to foster an environment where learning is continuous and multidimensional.
Interns at Mariner are actively involved in financial operations, applying their academic knowledge to actual client cases and portfolio management, bridging the gap between theoretical learning and practical application.
Mariner's approach also emphasizes collaborative projects and case studies, fostering teamwork and innovative problem-solving skills. This collaborative environment extends beyond mere professional development; it cultivates lasting professional networks and relationships.
According to Hutton, these aspects make transitioning from intern to full-time employee easier because they've already seen “a day in the life” of a brand-new associate. With proper exposure to the team, systems, and tools they will be using, interns build camaraderie so that, ideally, the transition to full-time is comfortable – “like coming back home,” as Hutton describes.
Seamless Transition From Learning to Employment
Hutton emphasized the importance of transitioning interns to full-time roles. Transitioning to full-time is not merely a shift in role but also an evolution in the intern’s professional journey. The ultimate goal of the BLX program is to provide a path for Black and Latinx individuals to make their way into the financial services industry more permanently than just a summer internship.
The success of this approach is evident in the interns transitioning to full-time roles at Mariner. As Hutton noted, the firm has gradually increased this conversion rate in past years, with interns from diverse backgrounds finding their place more permanently within the firm. This success is not just in numbers; it reflects a deeper integration of the interns into the fabric of Mariner's corporate culture, aligning with their long-term goals of diversity and inclusion.
Revolutionizing Internship Programs in Financial Advisory
Mariner's journey with the BLX program can be a blueprint for other wealth management firms. Mariner’s approach to the internship process and a focused strategy for intern-to-employee conversion reflects their goal of creating a workforce that reflects society as a whole. Lang emphasizes the importance of diversity in the financial services industry and explains that obstacles to entering the profession must be recognized and addressed.
The BLX program is a stepping stone for those looking to enter the financial services industry. BLX helps aspiring candidates land that elusive first job in our profession. They also help firms source, hire, and onboard new team members. But, as explained by Lang, recruiting and hiring are the first steps, followed by creating a culture of belonging and an inclusive mentality in the workplace.
Don’t Wait to Get Involved!
The strategies discussed address the immediate goals of talent acquisition and diversity and pave the way for long-term, sustainable growth in the sector. Financial planning and investment advisory firms of all sizes have the opportunity to integrate these best practices, effectively enriching their talent pool, mirroring the diverse needs and perspectives of the market, and paving the way for future industry leaders.
If this story has inspired you, take the next step. Hire a BLX Intern to help your firm meet your talent needs. Sign up for their newsletter here to learn how and when to apply. Seize this opportunity to contribute to a financial industry that mirrors our diverse world by tapping into BLX’s pipeline of top-quality interns.