Atlanta: “Clients ask me who will be working with them when I retire but I’ve had bad experiences with junior advisors,” Jim explained with a grimace on his face, before asking “How would you suggest taking on a junior advisor?”
Most of the advice in the industry is centered on the qualities and characteristics to look for in a junior; little attention has been placed on what should be expected of the senior. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that the qualities and characteristics of a junior advisor are not important – but I am suggesting that there have been many instances where the “junior advisor bad experience” had little to do with the junior and a lot to do with the senior.
After explaining the above to Jim, he admitted that he was guilty of not putting enough time and effort into the junior advisors he’d attempted to bring into his practice. To that end, I’ve outlined 5 Key Onboarding Criteria that every advisor should address before onboarding a junior advisor, regardless of how talented.
- Role Clarity – This role should have clarity and include well defined performance expectations. In Jim’s case, this was likely to involve being the relationship manager for 150 “B” clients, which would entail two annual review meetings and monthly phone contact, completing his CFP and being the financial planner, connecting with the next generation of his clients, and handling social media.
- Mentorship - senior financial advisors must be prepared to devote time and attention to their junior advisor. They need to see themselves as the Mentor to this young advisor. This is a major responsibility as it requires leading by example, including the junior advisor in review meetings, relationship marketing activities, and carving out a set time every week to spend with this young financial advisor.
- Work Ethic – needs to be determined in advance; office hours, junior’s expected starting time, number of nights devoted to client events, and weekend/evenings spent studying for CFP.
- Compensation – should be front and center. It is important to clarify what the initial role pays, the specific benchmarks and standards that are expected to be met, bonus possibilities, and the 2-3 year expected earning potential.
- Career Path – few financial advisors want to be lifetime junior advisors. Therefore it is important that senior advisors are thoughtful about their own careers (retirement or part-time status) as well as the growth potential for a quality junior advisor.
As I walked Jim through each of these 5 Key Onboarding Criteria he listened carefully while slowly shaking his head. When I asked for his thoughts he simply replied, “I didn’t put in the effort on the front end.”
Does this guarantee that Jim or any senior advisor will be successful in onboarding a junior advisor? Of course not! But at least it will help develop a healthy career for quality junior advisors.