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Breakthrough Growth
The Engagement Epidemic

The Engagement Epidemic

A highly engaged workforce is a more productive workforce. Gallup’s most recent research on employee productivity2 notes that high employee engagement often translates to higher profitability and productivity.

What’s more, quality control and customer ratings move in lockstep with employee engagement, while such things as absenteeism and turnover decline as engagement climbs.

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In an interview with the Harvard Business Review3, Gallup Chief Scientist Jim Harter said the differences go beyond simple metrics: “Engaged employees are more attentive and vigilant,” he said. “They look out for the needs of their coworkers and the overall enterprise, because they personally ‘own’ the result of their work and that of the organization.”

The upshot: Engaged employees are better for their companies, and advisors need to take notice. After all, an alarming 15% of advisors who responded to the survey reported that their next generation of advisors is somewhat or totally disengaged from their firm’s work, and 53% say these younger advisors are only somewhat engaged. What’s more, 20% say their younger advisors make little or no meaningful contribution to the business.

Bridging the gap

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These findings suggests that today’s senior advisors must find ways to boost engagement of the next generation of advisors and bring them more fully into their practices. At the same time, advisors may want to be more selective when evaluating candidates. As we reviewed the extensive advisor commentaries, the top three gaps in knowledge and skill that must be overcome by the next generation were:

  1.  Ability to effectively communicate with clients
  2. Ability to acquire new clients
  3. Financial planning knowledge

Lead advisors cited communication skills as the most critical skill gap for next-gen advisors. More than one quarter of advisor comments referred to young advisors’ struggle with such things as how to understand clients and assess their needs, how to listen effectively, how to understand different types of client groups, how to apply investment learning to a real client situation, and how to effectively communicate complicated concepts to clients simply. One advisor noted that younger team members need to develop their conversation skills. He stated that his next generation advisor’s biggest challenge is, “selecting the appropriate words to use when talking with clients. He needs to learn the importance of how his message is being received.”


2 Gallup, “How Employee Engagement Drives Growth,” June 20, 2013.

3 Harvard Business Review, “Employee Engagement Does More than Boost Productivity,” July 4, 2013.

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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.

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