Ten weeks ago, I joined Huber Financial as their summer intern, and it has been a wonderful experience to say the least. I am very grateful for the opportunity to work alongside such a great team as I prepare to start my junior year at Illinois State University. During the last week of my internship, I reflected on some personal highlights that I will take with me:
1. Advantages of Working in a Small Office
Huber Financial consists of a tightly knit group of 16 employees who foster a family-oriented culture. As an intern, I expected to only work with a handful of individuals in the office, but couldn’t have been more wrong. I spent quality time working with each and every member of the Huber Financial team, including senior management. Another benefit of working at a smaller firm was that I had meaningful exposure to all aspects of the business, as opposed to just one or two specific areas.
2. Interesting Research Projects
One of my favorite aspects of the internship was that I was given real responsibilities. There was very little “busy work” given to me. I never once had to pick up coffee or dry cleaning!
For one project, I was asked to research a new area of competition facing registered investment advisors like Huber Financial – online advisory firms. This growing segment has become known within the industry as “Robo-advisors” because they essentially remove the human element from the financial advice experience. My specific goals were to provide an overview of the competitive landscape and recommend specific technological benefits Huber Financial could potentially adapt and incorporate into its practice.
In another research project, I created a comparative analysis of the various professional designations in the financial services industry. Before my internship, it looked like alphabet soup to me and I couldn’t have told you the difference between a CFA and a CFP. My project involved studying the costs and benefits of these and many other designations. I now have a more complete understanding of the key differences between them and an idea of which designations may be worth pursuing after I graduate.
3. Interaction with Clients
I had more opportunities to interact with clients over the summer than I ever expected. I was involved in several client review meetings. Rather than being a “fly on the wall,” I was able to meet different advisors before each meeting to discuss financial plan updates, investment recommendations and other aspects of the client’s financial life. In some instances, I was also able to participate in meeting follow-up by compiling meeting notes and summarizing key findings. I learned that being a financial advisor is more about developing relationships than it is about numbers on a page. Meeting people from different backgrounds and hearing their stories showed me how valuable a trusted advisor can be as individuals and families try to navigate the complexities of their financial lives and work toward their goals.
4. Gained Substantial Knowledge about Investing and Financial Markets
Before joining Huber Financial this summer, my knowledge of investing was fairly limited. I thought that financial planning was all about picking the right stocks and figuring out when to get in and out of the market. During my time with the Investment Committee, I learned a great deal about their approach and investment philosophy. I have a better understanding of the concepts of risk and return, and believe that the most important decision clients face is about their long-term, strategic asset allocation. Determining the optimal asset allocation for a client is less about chasing the hottest stocks or the latest investing trends and more about tailoring a portfolio to meet their specific financial goals and risk tolerance.
Looking back on my experience, I am very grateful for the opportunity to work at Huber Financial. This summer was my first experience working in an office environment. Though initially I was out of my comfort zone, the entire team was very accommodating and alleviated any concerns I might have had. I will always remember my time there and look forward to applying all that I have learned as I look towards the future.