My Summer at Sigma and Parkland

Final Blog by intern Sabrina Lieberman

I’ll be honest – when I first walked into Sigma Financial and Parkland Securities on a snowy January afternoon, I barely knew what a broker-dealer did. As a college student, my financial priorities are rent, groceries, and loans—not a 401(k) or a Roth IRA. However, over the last few months, I have learned about the importance of financial guidance and the large network of support that serves planners and advisors.

Here are my 3 greatest takeaways from an incredible internship!

  1. Every hour that you are not on social media is another potential client lost. In every industry, social media has revolutionized marketing and business development. However, many financial advisors are wary of online platforms, and for good reason. Compliance regulations are constantly changing on this new media, and advisors fear the risks. While these concerns are valid, responsible broker-dealers like Sigma and Parkland will guide you through navigating social media while mitigating compliance risks and maintaining professional integrity. When choosing a financial advisor, clients look for an honest and trustworthy individual. A social media presence increases credibility and transparency, and is especially important for millennial clients. To stay relevant and current, using social media has become essential for financial representatives.


  1. Trust your interns. As an intern at Sigma and Parkland, I was given an unparalleled amount of autonomy in designing our social media strategy. All of my ideas were respectfully considered, and, barring compliance issues, were given the green light! This increased my confidence in my creativity and work, and nurtured my personal projects. I explored the industry by asking my own questions and analyzing the results. This independence allowed me to focus on my own interests while benefiting firm development. In addition to learning through my own initiatives, all of my questions were answered thoroughly, and I felt that my supervisors were committed to my professional growth.


  1. Outstanding service really stands out. Through our “We Support Our Reps” social media campaign, I had the opportunity to speak with several financial advisors about their experience with Sigma or Parkland. Each representative spoke specifically about the exceptional service offered by the back office. Many provided anecdotes about questions answered promptly and correctly, or the personal touch offered by a smaller, dedicated firm. Their glowing praise about Sigma and Parkland’s commitment to their success increased my confidence when promoting our firms with potential representatives, and made me proud to have worked with Sigma and Parkland!



5 Tips to Budget for Christmas in July

5 Tips to Budget for Christmas in July

We know that it’s July, and no one is eager to be reminded of snow and sludge. However, given that Americans spend an average of 2% of their income on Christmas gifts[1], Christmas is an important budgeting line item. By preparing early, your clients can celebrate the holidays without an unexpected financial Grinch.


  1. Make a Christmas list early, and shop year-round.[2] By preparing your list early and shopping consistently, you can take advantage of seasonal sales throughout the year. In addition to targeting sales and increasing your savings, you can beat the maddening crowds during the holiday season.


  1. Have a post-Christmas shopping list.[3] As mentioned in the first tip, many specific items benefit from seasonal sales. This is particularly true for Christmas items. Even if your next Christmas list isn’t complete by December 26th, you can stock up on wrapping paper, ornaments, and other stocking stuffers in preparation for the following year.


  1. Create a Christmas fund.[4] Rather than dipping into your savings, create a specific stash for your gifts. A great resource for this reserve is your “under-budget” cash. If you come in under budget on monthly expenses, such as groceries or gas, you can save this surplus for Christmas gifts.


  1. Turn vacation savings into Christmas savings.[5] Summer vacations are a great way to relax…and overspend. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to save without sacrificing family fun. By driving to your vacation spot, shopping for groceries instead of eating out, or opting for low-cost excursions, you can save some cash for Christmas.
  1. Plan to avoid hidden costs.[6] From wrapping fees to photos with Santa, Christmas is full of costs beyond presents. If you can, plan! By making extensive lists of menus, gifts, and decorations, you will be able to weed out unnecessary expenses and stretch each dollar further.








The Importance of Interns

The Importance of Interns

…in conversation with Randall A. Hoover

In fall 2016, Randy Hoover presented The Power of Internships at our Practice Management Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. This week, we spoke with Mr. Hoover to ask some important questions, and see if any of his best practices have changed. We were delighted to learn the importance and value of interns in financial advisory firms, and below, we share some of his wisdom with you. If you have had an intern or plan to hire one, we would love to hear about your experience as well.


Q: For a firm that has never had an intern, how would you recommend getting started?

A: First, it is essential to determine what your intern will be doing in order to find the best candidate, and ensure that the experience is valuable to both the intern and your firm. Consider the projects at your firm that are important but not urgent, and that you and your full-time team will realistically never get around to. These are concrete projects that can be completed over a summer, but will benefit your bottom line year round. We consider our interns to be Research Assistants, who organize databases and compile information that will improve our operations long after they leave the firm. Many firms are tempted to utilize interns for immediate profit gain through cold calling and marketing projects, but this is usually not as valuable for either the intern or the firm. None of our interns are client-facing. Some interns may attend meetings, but they are only present to observe.


Q: How do you find potential candidates?

A: We employ our interns for multiple summers, which allows them to grow with our firm and increase their value to our team. This approach also provides leadership opportunities for veteran interns. However, our strategy requires onboarding interns as early as high school. By speaking in AP Economics classes, you will reach dozens of bright students and possible intern candidates. As your internship program grows, you can gain access to university internship placement programs and networks. We work with the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.


Q: How do you choose the best from the rest?

A: Start with traditional hiring practices. After that, consider the projects you have outlined and the qualities and experience necessary to complete the work efficiently and effectively. Remember, because you are likely hiring students in a research capacity, you are probably not looking for the best salesperson.


Q: Smart, motivated students are likely to receive several internship offers throughout their college careers. How do you keep them coming back for two or three summers?

A: We provide our interns with unparalleled responsibility, autonomy, and leadership experience. The interns work in a collaborative cohort, and understand the impact and value of their contributions. Moreover, interns who have previously worked with us have the opportunity to manage newer interns, which provides a unique element of management experience.


For more information on internship programs for small businesses, click here for a guide from the U.S. Small Business Association.

5 Tips for Boosting Your Summer Savings

Summer spending can drain your bank account before it’s time to drain the pool. While summer is a fantastic time to take advantage of great weather and vacation time, it is important to stick to your annual budget. These five tips could help your clients stay afloat through the fall.

  1. Air-wareness. Air conditioning is a wonderful luxury. It allows us to cool down the house with the windows closed (avoiding mosquitos!), and create a cool, healthy sleeping environment during the muggy summer months. However, air conditioning is expensive both in your house and in your car. Being mindful about when to use air conditioning can have a major impact on your summer energy costs.


  1. Travel smart. Thousands of families travel throughout the summer months. Although summer travel can be incredibly expensive, creative research can dig up some fantastic deals. By planning carefully, you can ensure a fabulous trip without breaking the bank. However, the most economical vacation is just to stay home. Click here for some great ideas from Forbes about how to make the most of a “staycation”.


  1. Shop summer sales. Whether you have your Christmas list ready or could just spruce up your wardrobe, summer offers some great deals. Many retailers mark down off-season winter gear or home appliances. As summer nears its end, take advantage of close-out sales to buy summer clothing for the following year.


  1. Create a summer savings plan. Although a smart saver budgets all year, summer can serve up temptations that sneakily increase spending. By crafting a special summer budget, you are less likely to succumb to unnecessary expenses this season.


  1. Optimize your barbecues. Summertime barbecues are a great opportunity to spend time with friends and family while enjoying a meal outside. Fortunately, they are also a great way to save money while entertaining! When all your guests pitch in, potlucks allow everyone to try many dishes for a fraction of the overall cost. Moreover, cooking outside keeps the house cooler, reducing your need for air conditioning.


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