Protecting our Student Interns

In order for our industry to compete on a global scale it needs to attract and retain the brightest minds of every generation. Ensuring that a young person’s first experience in the financial services industry is a positive one helps achieve that goal.

Student internships, which are often an individual’s first experience in the workforce are a good area for us to look at for improving our ability to attract tomorrow’s leaders. As we are all aware, obtaining an internship in the financial services industry is a highly competitive process. In addition, we also know that some students seeking internships lack the knowledge to determine one that provides a good opportunity – from another one which does not. In almost any industry when strong demand is coupled with uninformed buyers, the potential for those buyers to be exploited rises.

With that in mind, the STA has begun circulating a letter to university career placement officers which mentions our concerns regarding the potential for students seeking internships to be taken advantage of by those less scrupulous. In our letter, we recommend that career placement officers employ FINRA’s Broker Check® to screen firms and individuals who offer student internships in the financial services industry.

To be clear, we are not claiming any laws are being broken, nor are we calling for a congressional hearing or a new regulation on this topic. We are however hoping that our letter causes career placement officers to consider the policies and procedures they have in place for choosing which firms are allowed to offer internships to their university’s students. Our concern is acute to those internships whereby the student is paying the university who, in return, grants the student credits toward their degree upon completing their internship. In these situations, a student who may discover that the internship is not what they signed up for is less likely to quit due to the fact that failure to complete the internship results in a loss of credits and money. Scenarios like these are a poor and non representative reflection on our industry at large. So if you are directly working with a career placement officer, please encourage them to do their due diligence.

A copy of our letter is here.

View the full June Newsletter here >

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