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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At a recent conference I heard you speak about the importance of training younger generation advisors in new and different ways. The panel ended before you could go into much detail. We have videos and on-demand information for new advisors to learn on their own at their own pace, but I’m not sure what else we could be doing. Could you elaborate on the ways to offer new and different training?
As a college professor who teaches a new crop of undergraduate students every semester, I’ve observed 18- and 19-year-olds deliver well thought-out case studies to real-world senior executives by the end of their first semester in college. These are students who were at their high school proms six months prior and are now putting together a stimulating and professional presentation for outside execs. It’s certainly not the experience I had in my first year of college. Students and young workers of today are exposed to many different things. In addition to being asked to perform at a seasoned level, they have international learning experiences.
That said, when this younger generation enters the workforce, we may become frustrated because they seem to want to do more than the firm thinks they are capable of doing. While you may not want to put a brand new advisor in front of your most important client in their first month, there are a few things to consider:
- The younger generation has learned much more about problem-solving and overcoming obstacles than prior generations had to. Assign a client dilemma or a firm dilemma to a group of newer advisors, and ask them to work together to come up with some suggestions and solutions. While you don’t have to implement everything, it’s good practice for them to work around a real-life issue, and you may find they have good ideas.
- Consider graduating from the videos and on-demand learning to something more fun – maybe a gaming approach or assessments to test skill level. In one of my classes, the students were asked to consider whether they would use a podcast or game to promote a new product. En masse they responded that podcasts “were for old people.” Podcasts are a relatively new technology to some of us, but to younger folks they are already passé!
- Share the whole story with your younger team. If you have them working on an analysis for a client account, for example, let them in on the client information. Share what you know and what you need to find out. Help them see where what they are doing fits into the overall picture.
- Be clear on culture and where they fit. As much as you are able, give a roadmap for where they can go over time. This will help them see clearly what they are working toward.
- Give and seek feedback regularly. Don’t wait for the annual review. Share feedback as frequently as possible.
Give them chances to learn, and make yourself and those around you accessible as well. The more they know, the more they will likely want to become more engaged.
What is the secret to finishing a book? I have been working on one now for three years. I know you have written a number of books, and I don’t understand why I can’t just get through this.
What obstacles are stopping your progress? Do you set out with a plan to accomplish a certain amount and then just don’t meet your own objective? First, it’s always important to identify what’s getting in your way. In helping people get books written and published, one common problem I’ve seen is that they don’t have a clear plan or outline about what they want to write about.
- Set goals and milestones for when you will complete each piece.
- Chunk it down. Instead of “I will write five chapters this week,” put a time on your calendar when you will get 1 or even ½ of a chapter done. Allocate the time. Don’t wait for the time to open itself to you.
- Make sure you have a clear outline of what you are writing. Often we have so much we want to say that it gets confusing to organize and display it.
- Find a buddy. Have someone with whom you are scheduled to check in with once per week or once per month. Accountability is an incredible motivator!
Beverly Flaxington co-founded The Collaborative, a consulting firm devoted to business building for the financial services industry in 1995. In 2008, she co-founded Advisors Trusted Advisor to offer dedicated practice management resources to advisors, planners and wealth managers. In 2016 her firm relaunched the Advisors Sales Academy. She is currently a Lecturer at Suffolk University teaching undergraduate students Leadership & Social Responsibility. Beverly is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst (CPBA) and Certified Professional Values Analyst (CPVA).
She has spent over 25 years in the investment industry and has been featured in Selling Power Magazine and quoted in hundreds of media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, MSNBC.com, Investment News and Solutions Magazine for the FPA. She speaks frequently at investment industry conferences and is a speaker for the CFA Institute.
Article by Beverly Flaxington