In 2021, Walker Borders (’23SPS, Wealth Management) worked as an associate at Morgan Stanley when he decided to pursue a master’s degree. To distinguish himself from other financial planners and provide the best client service he needed more insight.
In this interview, Borders explains why he chose the Wealth Management graduate program, how it’s impacted his career, and what advice he would give to current students.
Why did you choose to attend Columbia’s Wealth Management program?
I chose to attend Columbia’s Wealth Management program because of the curriculum, the faculty, and the name recognition. I owe it to my clients to constantly perfect my craft, and it was obvious to me that this program would help me deliver on this promise.
Ever since I began my career in wealth management, I knew taking the CFP® exam to become a Certified Financial Planner™ would be a necessary step for advancement. After realizing Columbia’s Wealth Management program would allow me to accomplish two goals in one by obtaining a master’s degree and satisfying the education requirement set forth by the CFP Board, I immediately began the application process.
How did your program impact your career?
A month after our cohort’s final residency, I accepted an offer to transition to a new role as a financial advisor and was promoted to partner on my team. I don’t think this would have occurred as quickly if I hadn’t done this Columbia program.
The Wealth Management program has delivered a return on my investment in major ways. It has given me the knowledge and confidence to step into my new role knowing I can provide high-quality advice.
How did your Columbia education and resources support you along this journey?
I had to rely heavily on my Columbia education during my transition from associate to partner. Luckily, the program delivered an understanding of the wealth management landscape. I utilized office hours to ask my professors’ opinions and was given the type of real-world advice that cannot be found in a book. I also leaned on members of my cohort who already had experience with creating partnerships.
What skills from Columbia’s Master’s in Wealth Management program do you use in your job?
Columbia’s Master’s in Wealth Management program did a superb job of sharpening both my technical and soft skills. Had I just sat for the CFP® exam and not pursued my master’s at Columbia, I would not have known how to combine these skills.
I use my technical skills each day when strategizing for clients, whether it be through managing investment portfolios or through solving for clients’ retirement, educational, or legacy planning needs, but I would argue the soft skills we learned in Dr. Meghaan Lurtz’s psychology class and Aaron Alley’s communication class are just as important as some of the technical skills we practiced. At the end of the day, we’re working with people, and the behavioral aspect of financial planning is invaluable to our clients.
What advice would you give current students in Columbia’s Master’s in Wealth Management program?
Do not become complacent. The program is difficult, but every hour applied will pay dividends throughout your career. Also, take the time to check in on other members of your cohort. I have discovered a deeper love for the profession through bonding with my peers. Not only are the members of your cohort good at what they do, they are also outstanding people. Every individual I have met through Columbia’s Master’s in Wealth Management program looks at wealth management for the positive effect it creates. These are the current and future leaders of the industry, so take advantage of this cultivating environment.
About the Program
A sixteen-month online program with asynchronous instruction, specially designed to accommodate working professionals, Columbia University’s Master of Professional Studies in Wealth Management program is taught by distinguished 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.