At least once a week, I get a call or an e-mail from an experienced planner looking to recruit the next “superstar” of the profession. To my amazement, these pros seem to truly believe that they can find a person who requires little or no training, can hit the ground running, make a major impact on the workload, revenues, and profitability of the firm–and who will do all this for about as much as they’d make managing a McDonald’s.
I’ve learned, though, that’s not as crazy as it sounds. In my experience, what these firm owners are really saying is: “I don’t have enough time, expertise, and confidence to train someone, so please help me find a superhero to solve my problem.” Unfortunately, I’ve also talked at length with hundreds of young planners at industry conferences, in online chat boards, in young professional groups such as the Young Planners Network (sponsored by my firm), and NexGen, sponsored by the FPA, and I have to admit I’ve never come across one “superstar.” Sure, each person has a unique set of abilities, some that appear almost instantly as you listen to them talk about their dreams and aspirations. But I’ve yet to meet even one who could do it all, right from the start.
I have, however, coached plenty of young people who, given the right training, motivation, and opportunity, have the potential to be groomed into great financial planners. In fact, in situations where the opportunities and training programs were the strongest, I’ve watched the least likely candidates rise above their contemporaries to become true superstars. Problem is, I’ve yet to meet an established financial planner who got into the profession for the love of hiring, managing, and training people. Yet the process of finding, training, and managing the right talent is essential to the success of most advisory firms today. More-over, with a shrinking supply of young talent entering the profession, and demand increasing to an all-time high (see my column in the July issue of Investment Advisor), attracting and retaining a one-in-a-million, natural-born superstar has become nearly impossible. As I caution my clients, if you think you’ve really found that person, you have to ask: Why do they need you?
That’s why I’m convinced that to take most planning firms to the next level–that is, to generate greater revenues and profits with less time and effort expended by the owner(s)–it will be the sole responsibility of those owners to “make” the next generation of talent in their firms. I emphasize “sole responsibility” because I receive an astonishing number of e-mails suggesting that the CFP Board, CFP-registered university programs, and industry associations are not doing an adequate job training young planners. I can see their point: Wouldn’t it be great to send employees away for a week to a training program that takes the “burden” off of you?