Mets vs Yankees Copyright Al Bello, Getty Images

What Wealth Managers Can Learn From the Yankees

A UBS executive said even a dogged Mets fan like himself can learn a lesson from one of baseball's most polarizing teams.

Executives from four of the largest wealth management firms gathered Thursday and discussed how firms can attract and retain advisors. One summed up his high-level strategy this way: Emulate the New York Yankees.

Kenneth Correa, an executive director at UBS and head of the firm's Metropolitan Market, said  organizations can learn an important lesson from one of baseball's most polarizing teams, speaking at the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association’s Private Client conference.

"You hear about all these players that want to be a part of the Yankees, the pinstripes," Correa said. "And they want to be a part of the pinstripes because they want to be a part of that legacy, the Yankee legacy."

The Yankees have won the World Series 27 times, more than twice as many as the team with the second-highest number of championships. Players and fans associate the franchise with winning, and they want to be a part of it. 

“I hate to admit it, as a Mets fan, but I see that and I think, how can I create that culture, that ecosystem, in my [UBS] market?" Correa said. "Because that will not only attract people in, it will retain people and it will help us go to whatever mission or common vision we’re trying to create for the business.”

More specifically, Correa pointed out a widespread industry concern about the aging advisor workforce with an inadequate pipeline of young advisors to replace them. Young professionals interested in working in finance "are thinking private equity, hedge funds, investment banking, research, sales and trading.” Wealth management is too low in the pecking order. The sales narrative around brokers needs to change, he said. 

Deborah Shepherd, a managing director and New Jersey market executive at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, said wealth management is viewed as "a really high-risk profession," but there are now years-long training programs to help develop and ensure advisors succeed.

To retain advisors and get them to work hard — for both their firm and clients — managers need to diagnose their problems, rather than treat them like one, said Dylana Hopler, a complex director at Ameriprise Financial. In Hopler's career, the challenge of getting to know a new client and creating a financial plan for them was invigorating. She looks for opportunities to introduce new technology or junior employees to offices, freeing up time for experienced advisors to refocus on new clients.

Technology has advanced so quickly that some advisors have fallen behind on using it and missed out on a chance to leverage their business. Firms have to make sure they aren't just developing tech tools but that everyone is up to speed and taking advantage of them, said Chris Fils, a Florida complex manager at Raymond James & Associates.

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