The first graduates of the College for Financial Planning’s Diversity Scholarship program have now entered the advisory field as certified financial planners (CFPs).

In January 2021, the Kaplan Company’s College for Financial Planning in Centennial, Colo., announced the first 20 recipients of its nearly $500,000 Diversity Scholarship Program, which offers up to 60 scholarships annually to underrepresented individuals pursuing the education requirement necessary to earn the CFP certification. Each scholarship, valued at about $7,600, covers the full cost of a one-year program for CFP certification education, consisting of required education and CFP exam preparation.

Of the first 20 scholarship recipients to began the online educational program in March 2021, 14 completed it one year later, according to Gregory Ten Eyck, director of communications for Kaplan North America.

Out of those 14, eight sat for the CFP exam in March 2022 and six of them passed it, Ten Eyck said.

Four of those six discussed the impact it has had on their lives and their careers with Financial Advisor magazine.

Andy Leung is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics, Leung served as a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps. He received an M.B.A. degree in finance from the University of Connecticut. He currently resides in Wilton, Conn., with his wife and three children.

A financial services industry veteran with more than 20 years experience serving institutional clients for UBS Investment Bank, Leung is  a private wealth advisor with Procyon Partners LLC in Shelton, Conn., which he joined in 2018. Leung, a former independent business owner and operator, said he has an understanding of the financial needs and challenges of franchising and small business ownership–an asset in his new line of work as a private wealth advisor.

“Working directly with people and developing real personal relationships is very rewarding,” he said in an email. “Fiduciary responsibility should be something that all clients should expect of their advisors.”

Leung said he had certain career goals in mind when he set out to gain the CFP certification.

“My goal was to serve two groups that I represent, and I feel are underserved: Chinese and U.S. military personnel,” he said.

The accelerated learning offered by the scholarship program was a key benefit, he said.

“Oftentimes, people take 18 months to three years to study for and sit for the exam,” he said. “The Diversity Scholarship Program was condensed and accelerated so that participants could complete the study material and sit for the final exam in 12 months.”

Leung said his prior experience in the financial services industry enabled him to smoothly transition to his new career, but not without encountering some bumps in the road along the way.

“Balancing building a practice and studying for the CFP definitely challenges one’s time management skills,” he said in the email. “Having a supportive work environment and family life is critical to one’s success in the program.”