Advisors have an important role to play in developing the next generation of advisors. The good news is that most advisors recognize this fact: Some 77% agree or strongly agree that their role will be critical in training younger advisors.
However, independent advisors at RIAs or affiliated with broker/dealers feel more strongly than their peers at wirehouse or national firms that they’ll play a direct role in helping to train this next generation. That may be due to the broader array of training options at larger firms, which may insulate advisors there from having to take on the more granular work of developing younger talent.
True business owners, principals/partners take greater ownership over the development of their people. As an RIA, when your name is on the door, you have ultimate responsibility for the quality and talent of your team. Advisors from wirehouse or national firms are likely to have leadership roles at their firms who play some part in recruiting and developing talent. In some cases the “ownership” of training next generation advisors is practically wholly owned by sales management and training professionals versus individual advisors.
This spectrum of degree of “ownership for next gen advisor development” reflects in the numbers. Some 53% of advisors who are principals or partners at their firm strongly agree that they will play an important role in training the next generation of advisors, compared to just 40% for respondents overall.
Effectively training the next generation of advisors will require significant work from the existing leadership and other advisors with longer tenures. As the Breakthrough Growth research illustrates, the average advisor believes he or she has the training and experience to successfully manage teams and accomplish short- and long-term goals for their firms. In reality, however, it’s clear that these advisors need to do more work to bolster their management skills.
As advisors hone their management abilities, they also need to tailor management plans to include strategies to develop and integrate younger advisors into the firm. Doing so will pay generous dividends over time—and potentially extend the firm’s longevity into the next generation and beyond.
Advisors also must address the lack of engagement and motivation among next generation advisors. Of course, there is no amount of training or coaching that will energize a next-gen advisor who simply isn’t interested in succeeding in the role. But if that younger advisor once demonstrated passion and enthusiasm for the role, the senior advisor may be able to help address the issues of engagement. Here, advisors should consider the following:
When did the next-gen advisor lose interest? Probe for concerns or obstacles with your next gen staff. What was working that is no longer working? What event or issue caused them to become somewhat disinterested or disillusioned? See if you can identify a particular thing you can address or discuss. Young advisors need encouragement and assurance that the long and challenging road to building competence is worth it. It is important to keep them focused on the future reward that mastery can bring.
Is it a problem of confidence? Perhaps your next-gen advisor is simply feeling overwhelmed by all they have to learn. The roadblocks to becoming a successful and productive member of the team may be contributing to the lack of motivation. What’s more, that younger advisor also may be reeling from rejections related to attempts to develop new clients. If confidence is an issue, take a look at the expectations your team sets for its younger advisors. Are they realistic? Can they be shifted to help bring along these advisors more gradually? Are you giving both feedback for correction as well as positive reinforcement? Make sure your comments and feedback are balanced.
Do next-gen advisors understand their role?
In some cases, a lack of engagement may simply come from an advisor’s confusion about the role he or she is supposed to be playing. Again, this may present an opportunity to review the expectations and responsibilities for team members. Be clear about both quantifiable and qualitative expectations. Also consider how senior advisors set goals and measure success. Shifting a team’s milestones for success may make some more reachable—and may give younger advisors a jolt of confidence that they can hit their goals.
Is your coaching up to par? What do you, the leader, need to do to encourage motivation and commitment to learning? Having an engaged leader who has management and coaching skills is critical to accelerating time to productivity for next-gen advisors. What’s more, management and coaching skills benefit from being refreshed. As a result, lead advisors must consider their role in supporting younger advisors, and identify ways to bolster the skills necessary to teach and mentor these advisors.
Are you modeling the way? Younger advisors look up to their senior team members. But are those more seasoned veterans good role models? For instance, are they modeling ideal behavior for interacting with clients? In the early stages of development, being able to observe in client meetings is critical to helping next gen advisors move beyond academic planning and begin to develop an understanding of the “real world”. Watching a senior advisor manage a meeting agenda, provide updates, and handle concerns in a meeting provides an invaluable lesson for young advisors and provides a concrete aspiration for their hard work.
Are you giving them some opportunity and autonomy? The most important training a newbie can receive is in-the-moment client training. You will rarely find a more focused individual than when there is a real client and actual consequences to the work. Giving your next gen advisor guided opportunities for performance is an incredibly effective productivity accelerator.
To ensure you prepare them for success, start small. Assign them a specific task at the meeting (ie. be prepared to give our position on liquid alts or discuss the implications of the purchase of a second home on their overall financial plan). Senior advisors can hold mock meetings or pre-meeting drills to help improve confidence and outcomes among their younger team members. Post meeting debriefs are another effective tactic for helping next gen advisors “put it all together” and are especially important once a young advisor begins participating in meetings.
The work advisors put in now to boost engagement and improve training of their younger team members will pay significant dividends in the years to come. As a result, it’s critical for advisors to ponder not only how to become better managers, but also how to become better mentors for the younger advisors at their practices.
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Breakthrough Growth, LLC is a joint venture between The Collaborative and Purpose Consulting Group. Established by two industry veterans to meet the need for effective hands-on resources to accelerate productivity of the next generation of advisors and their leaders.
Christine Gaze is president of Purpose Consulting Group, a practice management consulting firm that works with financial services leaders to develop strategies and thought leadership programs that engage and advance financial advisors. In the last 20 years, she has held a variety of leadership roles in practice management and human capital at firms such as Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, AllianceBernstein and TD Ameritrade. She is a frequent speaker, avid researcher, and writer.
Beverly D. Flaxington (The Human Behavior Coach™) has spent more than 25 years in the investment industry as a sales and marketing expert, corporate consultant, college professor and Gold-award winning author She has been quoted in hundreds of media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, MSNBC.com and USA Today. Her latest bestselling book is titled Understanding Other People: The Five Secrets to Human Behavior.