Extraordinary Teams: Preparing the Next Generation of Financial Advisors

 In Professional Development

How do you really know when your 28-year-old junior partner is ready to be in front of a top client or CPA?
Answer: You don’t. And this is a big deal.

Supporting the next generation within your team is critical to the team’s overall success and ultimately to a successful and cohesive legacy for the firm. We recently partnered with Investments & Wealth Institute and Cerulli Associates to substantiate what qualities define the most successful teams and identify specific areas for opportunities.

A key opportunity revealed by the study is that top-performing teams have an increased focus on process and specialization to free up capacity. For example, among top-performing advisory teams, nearly half employ at least one nonproducing junior advisor to help build capacity, compared to 28% of peers. More than half of elite teams hire producing junior advisors to pursue future growth, as opposed to 39% of lower quartile teams. A sound mix of skills, credentials, experience and thought diversity makes the whole squad stronger.

But figuring out where younger colleagues are within their journey is critical as you establish these roles and responsibilities. Here are a number of questions that can help inform your decision-making and induce confidence as you determine how to maximize your team’s impact.

  1. Have you heard five consecutive positives from trusted sources on his or her performance? Is there a discernible pattern in the feedback? For example, echoes of “Joe has great command of the details on the investment policy statement, I like that guy” say a lot.
  2. Has the junior teammate been doing his homework? We all know it’s very difficult to study and reflect during the course of a busy workday in our industry. What proof do they offer of studying and learning after hours?
  3. On a scale of 1 to 5, how eager is the partner to do his inaugural presentation? Conviction convinces. How much do they have?
  4. Can they provide you with an outline of how the pitch or review might go? What’s their opening line? How realistic is their vision? What happens if it goes south?
  5. Has the trial pitch with a trusted colleague gone well? How well did the candidate for leadership respond to coaching?

Tip: Always opt for the word “coaching” in lieu of “feedback.” The latter can be seen as an ominous word. Or, as popularized by Google management: “Is it OK if I am completely candid with you about your delivery/style/content, etc.?”

Again, this is no small matter; only you can make the call. This decision is an art, to be sure and, full disclaimer: it may go badly. But there is just no growth in business and life without risk-taking, and trusting your juniors to start learning and thriving could free up time for you to focus on other goals and priorities. Go through each of these questions with full engagement, and your chances for a successful protégé can improve substantially.

Learn how to strategically position your practice’s legacy with our Succession Planning resources.

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