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3. Closing The Skills Gap

Young advisers are still learning the ins and outs of the advisory business, as well as crucial skills such as client management and business development. However, while next gen advisors note they have room for improvement, they still rated themselves as much more effective at core skills than their team leaders believe them to be.

In every skill surveyed, the gaps were considerable. For example, more than 90% of next gen advisors report that they demonstrate professionalism, while just 64% of lead advisors agreed. Firm leaders were least satisfied with the next gen’s ability to develop relationships with COIs and bring in new business. They were also less than satisfied with their younger advisors’ ability to deliver their firm’s story, develop relationships with the next generation of clients and follow up with clients.

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Bridging The Skills Gap

For next gen advisors, having confidence in their abilities is crucial to their ultimate success and performance. And yet, there’s work both sides can do to improve the skills of the younger generation and ensure they’re well prepared to handle important tasks. If lead advisors don’t view the next gen as being able to contribute in a meaningful way, they won’t reward them as well as the next gens may believe they should be rewarded. Again, these disconnects in perception could lead to difficult conversations and tense work environments for both groups.

To help eliminate this skills gap, lead advisers can:

• Evaluate early and often. Young advisers can’t work in a vacuum. They need experienced teachers who can help them identify the skills they need and areas where they can improve. Evaluating your young team members, encouraging self evaluations and comparing each report provides opportunities to discuss performance and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

• Encourage the next gen to seek credentials. The CFP® and CPWA® programs both offer a comprehensive

educational experience that supports the acquisition of key wealth management concepts. As clients become more educated of their options for advice, the demand for credentialed financial advisors will undoubtedly grow. In addition, credentials can help to ameliorate the youth gap that inhibits some young advisors and lend them credibility.

• Create defined development paths. Our research shows that only half of next generation advisors have defined development paths, and of those that do, most created those plans themselves. Once you’ve evaluated your younger advisors, work with them to create a clear and measurable plan for improving skills that are connected to their goals. 

To ensure their skills evolve, next gen advisors can:

• Take advantage of training. Look for ways to improve your skills. Attend local industry seminars, take advanced courses and make use all of the training tools your firm has to offer.

• Check in with team leaders. If you don’t have a well-development path, ask for one. Collaborate with your team leader, and show him or her that your career development and progression is important to you - and that it can benefit the firm.

About is the digital resource of REP. and Trusts & Estates. It provides the latest news, industry trends and investment ideas for more 800,000 centers of influence in wealth management—from financial advisors and planners to estate-planning attorneys and CPAs.

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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, and USA Today. Her latest bestselling book is titled Understanding Other People: The Five Secrets to Human Behavior.

Next: Coaching The Future

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