HighTower Advisors is preparing to launch the HighTower Center for Leadership, a two-year program aimed at developing the next generation of leaders within the firm. The program, which is scheduled to kick off in the early part of the second quarter of 2020, will only be available to internal advisors and will simulate the experience of running an advisory firm.
CEO Bob Oros said the firm’s advisors tend to skew younger, with an average age of 52 or 53, while the industry average is closer to 60. He attributes this to the firm’s early days of recruiting high-performing teams out of the wirehouses, which tended to be in the early stages of their careers.
But this program is not for early-stage advisors, but rather for folks who may already have some leadership responsibilities in a firm.
“This is not like taking junior people and making them more senior,” Oros said, in an interview with WealthManagement.com at the MarketCounsel Summit this week. “It’s taking people who have a good base of experience and giving them the additional training and support to become a leader of that business, with the hopeful outcome of actually running it someday.”
The firm is currently taking applications for the first class of the program, which will likely include about 50 people. That could be HighTower advisors or corporate employees who are preparing for a bigger role at the firm.
The curriculum of the program is intense, the firm says, and covers all aspects of running an advisory business, from strategy and operations to business development and P&L. It will involve two in-person meetings a year, as well as monthly webinars and interactive sessions. There will also be a chat function within its internal resource center, to allow participants to dialogue throughout the program.
The curriculum will be taught through simulations; participants in the class will be divided into teams of five people, and they’ll take on the persona of an advisor within a firm. They’ll be given real case studies and have to make a decision on behalf of the firm and evaluate options. Those decisions will be evaluated and scored by a panel of judges—real advisors who will give them feedback.
For instance, one simulation might be a market recession, where the revenues of the firm have dropped, and the participant will have to respond. Other scenarios might include bringing another principle into the business or hiring a marketing person.
“As we get older we learn less well reading books and we learn better by actually doing things,” Oros said. “This is akin to putting them in the flight simulator, and if they’re going to crash the plane, let them do it in the flight simulator.”