When Lead Advisors Are Not Mentors

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When Lead Advisors Are Not Mentors

April 21, 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.

Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.

Dear Bev,

We have hired a number of new junior advisors. I am the chief administrative officer for the firm and don’t get involved in the day-to-day managing of clients or portfolios. I am working to establish a training program that would match a newer advisor with one of our more seasoned ones. So far, this has been a disaster. The lead advisors treat the newer people like administrative staff. They want to see “proof of success” before they include them in client meetings. The junior staff is getting very frustrated. One recently told me, “I did not get a Master’s in Finance to make copies.” How do I teach my lead advisors to be better mentors?

Kim P.


Dear Kim,

This is a story I hear quite often. As the industry continues to age and successful advisors look to retire, many firms are bringing in newer, less experienced advisors. However, if a lead advisor isn’t a “coach” or “mentor,” they will not turn into one just because you asked them to.

Often, this is a problem of unconscious competence. Many experienced advisors grew their businesses doing it their own way. It’s hard for them to create a systematic, repeatable process and offer that to someone they are training because they don’t even realize how they do the things they do successfully.
Nonetheless there are four important ways you can ensure this process is more effective:

  1. Create a clear set of expectations for what a new advisor needs to learn and when. This should include both technical and “soft” skills they need to acquire.
  2. Identify those experienced advisors who might be naturally strong mentors and coaches. Instead of asking every lead advisor to mentor, be selective about who you choose.
  3. Consider outside coaching or training for your newer advisors. Sometimes an outside, objective look is best to avoid passing along ineffective approaches.
  4. Work with both the experienced advisors and the newer advisors to identify “what success looks like” to everyone. How would they like the process to work? How will they measure success?

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