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Columbia’s Wealth Management Master’s Program Launches First Student-Funded Diversity Fellowship

One-Hundred Percent of Columbia’s Very First Cohort of Wealth Management Students Donated to the Fund; Students Admitted for the Fall 2022 Term May Apply for a Full-Tuition Fellowship Through June 1, 2022. 

Students admitted to Columbia University’s Master of Professional Studies (M.P.S.) in Wealth Management program for the 2022-2023 academic year will have an opportunity to apply for one full-tuition fellowship, thanks to a new initiative funded by members of the program’s first student cohort. The Wealth Management Advancing Diversity Fellowship is designed to diversify the financial advising industry as well as to retain and help accelerate the careers of high-caliber professionals from underrepresented groups. It is the first student-funded fellowship offered at the Columbia University School of Professional Studies (SPS).

“As the market for wealth management professionals continues to broaden, educating and training students who represent the diverse communities in which they serve is essential,” said Tracy Schwartz, Interim Director of Columbia’s Wealth Management M.P.S. program. “This fellowship expands the talent pool for potential employers and is aligned with our program’s vision to be the epicenter of diverse talent in the wealth management industry.”

Women, Black Americans, and Latinos continue to fall well below national averages in the financial advising profession. According to the CFP Board, Black Americans and Latinos comprise 3.7% of Certified Financial Planner professionals and 15% of all financial advisors. Women are also under-represented. For more than a decade, women have comprised only 23% of CFP® professionals and 33% of all financial advisors. In addition, financial research organization Cerulli Associates estimates that nearly 40% of advisors will retire over the next 10 years even as personal wealth continues to grow exponentially, surpassing $250 trillion worldwide last year, according to Boston Consulting Group. 

Schwartz initially planned to pitch the fellowship idea to firms across the industry, but after hearing about her idea, students currently in Columbia’s Wealth Management M.P.S. program decided to take action. Craig Lyman, student and LPL Financial Advisor at Eckelkamp & Lyman Retirement Planning, responded with a gift to the school. Lyman went on to enlist fellow classmates and wealth managers, Jason Papier and Miles Sharpe, as well as Major Gifts Officer Adam Siepiola, to campaign for the rest of the cohort to donate and create the fellowship. One-hundred percent of the program’s first student cohort made gifts to establish the fellowship. 

Current students Craig Lyman, Miles Sharpe, and Jason Papier successfully rallied all students in the first cohort of the Wealth Management M.P.S. program to donate to the fellowship. Schwartz had initially planned to pitch the fellowship to wealth management firms. 

“The incredible diversity we experienced in our cohort had a meaningful impact on our experience,” said Lyman. “Seventeen students who haven't even graduated yet contributed every dime that will fund this fellowship. We did that to tell the world we believe in this initiative and to get the word out to the industry that Columbia University is serious about creating opportunities for underrepresented populations in the advisor community.”

The global flow of wealth is now a cascade across more areas of society than we’ve seen before. Wealth managers must be prepared to guide, coach, and educate their clients to achieve personal and financial goals not only for their families but also for their values such as environmental protection and social impact,” said Sharpe, current student and former Director of Napier Sharpe Wealth Management in London.

The fellowship mirrors and supports the action that Columbia SPS has taken to promote greater diversity and inclusion throughout its community and to support the university’s Commitment to Antiracism. In early 2021, Columbia SPS launched its inaugural Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Initiative by announcing the appointment of the school’s first Chief Diversity Officer (CDO), Erwin de Leon, Ph.D., in May, then its DEIA Committee the next month. The CDO and committee work together to identify and recommend policies to institutionalize DEIA in SPS hiring, curriculum, learning and development programs, support networks, and other practices. The DEIA committee and CDO role are the results of a proposal submitted by a working group that convened at SPS in fall 2020.

“The Wealth Management Advancing Diversity Fellowship will not only change the life of an individual but others in their community. This initiative puts into action the promise of any DEIA initiative: to reach out and welcome those who are ordinarily excluded from traditional pathways to stability and success. The fellowship is all the more laudable as it is a product of the initiative and generosity of the Columbia Wealth Management program's inaugural cohort of students,” said de Leon, who is also a Lecturer in the Discipline of Nonprofit Management at Columbia SPS.

“Allies in our profession may not know what they can do, beyond vocalizing support, to promote the development of diverse candidates. Contributing to this fellowship is a tangible way to promote the growth of diverse planners in our industry,” said Papier, current student and Managing Partner at Werba Rubin Papier Wealth Management, LLC. “We hope representation in leadership will inspire other diverse candidates to see growth opportunities and to make positive change in our profession.”

Columbia University’s Wealth Management M.P.S. program hopes to expand the Advancing Diversity Fellowship to cover tuition costs for more wealth management professionals in the future. Corporations, firms, alumni, students, and other individuals who would like to support the fellowship may contact Columbia SPS’ Major Gifts Officer Adam Siepiola, at (347) 380-3856 or email him at as5869 [[at]] columbia [[dot]] edu. Columbia SPS also graciously accepts online donations on their Impact and Innovation giving page at sps.givenow.columbia.edu

“This fellowship is a testament to SPS’ collective commitment to access. I couldn't be more proud of our students and the Wealth Management program for this outstanding initiative,” said Zelon Crawford, Senior Associate Dean of Student Affairs. “This gift allows current Wealth Management students, in partnership with faculty and staff, to make a difference in the future of their profession and in the life of the student who receives their fellowship. We welcome other partnerships that empower donors and Columbia to advance our shared values together.”

Applications for Fall 2022 enrollment are open. Learn more about Columbia University’s Master of Professional Studies in Wealth Management.

How to Apply

To apply for the fellowship, students must first be admitted to the Wealth Management M.P.S. program, scheduled to begin their studies in the Fall 2022 semester, and have 3 to 10 years of experience in the industry. All admitted students will receive a link to apply for the Wealth Management Advancing Diversity Fellowship; however, each admitted student should review the eligibility requirements stated on the fellowship application.

Eligibility for the Columbia Wealth Management Advancing Diversity Fellowship may include but may not be limited to applicants who are members of an underrepresented racial or ethnic group; identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community; identify as individuals with disabilities; and/or identify as female or non-binary.

To be considered for the fellowship, students must apply for the M.P.S. program by April 4, 2022. Upon receiving an acceptance letter, admitted students may submit their fellowship applications by June 1, 2022. The fellowship recipient will be announced by early July. Review the full admissions process here

About Columbia’s Wealth Management M.P. S. Program

Columbia University’s Master of Professional Studies in Wealth Management is the only program of its kind in the Ivy League. It prepares experienced and aspiring wealth management professionals to meet the disruptive challenges of today’s industry. The rigorous, multidisciplinary program helps students build expertise in the theory and practice of core areas of wealth management such as investment, tax, estate, and retirement planning in conjunction with honing important client skills such as communication, psychology, decision-making, and relationship management. A 16-month online program specially designed to accommodate working professionals, Columbia University’s M.P.S. in Wealth Management program is taught by elite faculty with deep, applied experience in their respective fields. Additionally, it is a CFP Board Registered Program designed to help students meet the educational requirements for CFP® certification.