Tips for advisors-in-transition in a talent squeezed market: Part I of II

By Cynthia Stephens, VP of Marketing, ByAllAccounts on Friday, January 10th, 2014

Are you thinking of making a career transition in 2014?  Given the generational talent crisis that our wealth management industry faces (see the blog: Will 2014 Mark the Beginning of a Generational Talent Crisis for Advisors?), you may have your pick of firms to choose from if you are planning a move.  That said — you’ll want to be strategic about your choice and weigh the options carefully. 
There isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” approach to evaluating your career options.  Mindy Diamond, President and CEO of Diamond Consultants, works with the nation's top advisors and consults with, trains and coaches individuals on state-of-the-art practices with regard to helping them reach their full potential.  When we spoke last week she offered five pointers to help guide your decision making.
Tip #1 for Would-be successors:
Once you have defined your goal as being the successor, be open all the time to new opportunities.  

The average age of a financial advisor is about 50.  Hence, it is no secret that many of these seasoned wealth managers will be retiring in the next decade, paving the way for the next generation to take the reins. If you see yourself as a would-be successor, you’ll want to consider how to position yourself as a suitable “heir”. 

“One of the biggest motivators for a would-be successor to make a move is because s/he has scanned the universe of senior advisors in his/her firm and didn’t see an appropriate opportunity”, says Mindy.  Mindy believes that the first step in positioning oneself as a successor is to define who you are and take stock of “must haves”.  She counsels advisors to “first define who you are, what is important for you professionally, how you manage money, how you view client service, etc”.  This introspective step is a prerequisite to beginning a search. 

Mindy shared a story with me about a 45-year old advisor in the Midwest who manages roughly $250 million in assets.  He’s taken stock of what his needs are and defined his number one goal as being the successor for a soon-to-be retiring advisor.  He has met with everyone in his firm, communicated his goal, and is now looking outside.  “It is important to be open all the time to new opportunities once you have defined your goals”, says Mindy.

With the plethora of retiring advisors and many firms to choose from, it’s important to ensure that there will be a good fit in the long haul.  My advice is, don’t look at what’s available and see if it fits your needs – look at your needs first and then see if what’s available meets them.

Tip #2 for Advisors-in-training:
All firms acknowledge they need to groom and nurture trainees.  Find a very successful advisor who knows how to train someone.

Although firms acknowledge that there is a succession crisis and there is a critical need for training, Mindy has seen firms’ investments in training programs fluctuate between an on-again and off-again focus.  “All of the big firms are trying to figure out the secret sauce for training.  No one has figured it out yet,” she says.

Equally important to a training program is partnering – pairing younger advisors with a senior advisor and allowing them to learn from a pro.  Mindy counsels that you’ll want to learn their systems, how they develop relationships, and spend a few years shadowing them. 

Tip #3 for Emerging Advisors (with 0 – 5 years experience in wealth management):
It’s harder to build a business today than it was 30 years ago.  Get into a wirehouse training program to get a solid foundation.

Part of the challenge the industry is going through is not just that firms have been lukewarm on training but according to Mindy it is also that “firms have been back and forth on who the ideal trainee is.”  Is it the career-changer who has 15 years in another industry and is making a mid-career move?  Is it a recent financial planning graduate?  Someone else?

Either way, she believes one of the best places to get the foundation you’ll need to advance, perhaps to start your own business one day, is in a wirehouse training program. “Wirehouse training programs are a great place to get groomed and nurtured.  If you look at the successful advisors, many started in wirehouse training programs.  I’ve seen many start as independent that struggle and never progress beyond a certain level.”

In this competitive market that has been moving toward fee-based advice on all of a client’s accounts, versus performance on individual commission-based stocks, Mindy’s advice came as a surprise to me. 

Mindy countered that “there are plenty of fiduciary-minded advisors within the wirehouses”. “It’s a good training ground.  Take what you like and leave the rest.  If you have entrepreneurial DNA and need to leave, use the foundation of what you like from that world and tailor it according to your own image.”  
Next week, I’ll share Mindy’s tips for women advisors in transition and ways to research the technology capabilities that a new firm offers.

Is your firm hiring in 2014?  Stay tuned for details of our February webinar on how to position your firm in the war for talent.  Email marketing@byallaccounts with the subject “Hiring webinar” and we’ll make sure to send you an invite.

Mindy Diamond is President and CEO of Diamond Consultants which she founded in 1997. In partnership with her husband, Howard, they have developed an organization that focuses on smart talent recruiting and strategic business consulting that employs a unique relationship driven approach. Nationally recognized as an industry thought leader, Mindy works with the nation’s top advisors and firms and consults with, trains and coaches individuals, small and large groups on state-of-the-art practices with regard to helping them reach their full potential through a Total Growth® approach.
You may also be interested in:
Creating an Exceptional Client Experience (Complimentary Brochure)
Tips for Making Your RIA Succession Plan a Success (Complimentary Whitepaper)
Take Your Business to the Next Level with Referrals (Blog post by Rosemary Smyth, MBA, ACC, Author)

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