Helping Younger Advisors Excel

March 31, 2015

by Beverly Flaxington

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Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

What’s the best way to integrate a new, young advisor into our practice? We are too small to have a formal training program and I don’t have time to sit with someone and provide step-by-step instruction. I can’t quite balance the need for efficiency with the need to make sure he is doing things right. What do other smaller firms do in place of formalized training programs?

Tim W.

 

Dear Tim,

Your experience is a common one. I think it speaks to a larger dilemma specific to independent advisors. As advisors age, they need new young staff. Unfortunately, the practices are not always equipped to invest the time and money to get the best efforts from the new employees. In some cases, the newer advisors end up leaving because they are frustrated at being unable to contribute.

This doesn’t mean there isn’t an answer to your question. There are a few best practices to help make this process easier:

  1. Make sure you have written expectations for the new advisor. Do you expect him/her to perform at the same level as an existing, more experienced advisor? If not, then make sure you aren’t using the same job description for everyone.
  2. Create a step-by-step plan for timing and what he should learn at each step of the way. Have you broken down what’s required to become successful in your firm? Are you clear about what needs to be learned and when? Breaking down the process will make it easier for you to figure out how to “train” him at each step.
  3. Find ways to involve him in team and client meetings. Should he sit in with some of your lead advisors and listen to phone calls, or even meet with clients and take notes? I’ve heard from younger advisors that it is very helpful to be included in client situations. This helps them see firsthand how the process really works and how the pieces come together.
  4. Do you have a designated mentor for the new advisor? Not all lead advisors make good mentors, so choose carefully. It can be helpful to have one person working with the newest advisors who will feel somewhat responsible for their success. Teaming up can be very valuable to both parties, as sometimes a newer person with a fresh eye might ask valuable questions.
  5. Establish milestones for measuring success. Do you know what he should be able to do each step of the way? Are you clear on how to define success and have you communicated this?

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