Young Talent That Comes — And Goes

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Beverly Flaxington young talentYoung Talent That Comes — And Goes

By Beverly Flaxington
January 21, 2014

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 struggled to find young talent to hire and groom for our firm. It seems everyone under 30 works somewhere for three years and then moves on to the next thing. One guy we hired had four serious jobs on his resume and hadn’t turned 30 yet. I hear about succession planning and all of the steps we are supposed to take to prepare for the future, but if we can’t get someone young who stays more than 1,095 days, I am not going to introduce them to all of my clients. What are other advisors doing to deal with this?

Mark S., Boston

Dear Mark,

You have identified an increasingly worrisome problem in the industry. Advisors who have committed the better part of their careers to their firms are seeing new talent come – and go. It’s not an unusual problem, but there are some things advisors are doing to make it even more difficult.

For example, when you find someone you think is a fit for your firm, what kinds of conversations are you having with them? If succession or long-term (past 3 years) commitment is in your plan, are you asking them what’s in their plan? Countless times when I have talked to both parties in situations like this, there is plenty of miscommunication around expectations.

Have you identified what specifically you want from this role and this person? Do you have accountability, a plan for their personal growth and a process to help them learn and engage? Most firms have a job description but little follow-through. If you have long-term expectations for someone, you need to take the time to be as clear and supportive as possible.

Are you putting an emphasis on the type of person you hire? If you are thinking about something as serious as succession, have you “matched” style, or are you hiring people who are very different from you? You might inadvertently be trying to find a complement to your skill set and approach, but in doing so, you may be locating new hires that are so different you cannot connect with them – or they with you.

Lastly, have you looked at your compensation plan and expectations from the seat of the other person? You may think it’s important to have this person “earn their stripes” the way you might have done, but if you don’t lay out opportunities for advancement and monetary achievement, they might become disillusioned. They could seek opportunities elsewhere not even knowing what you could have, or would have, offered them.

The more you can try to understand your employees’ needs and concerns and you communicate openly about expectations on both sides, the clearer you will both be about where the situation could lead.

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