In today’s competitive environment, financial professionals must focus not only on serving their existing clients and prospecting for new ones. Concurrent with those responsibilities, they must also fulfill continuing education and professional ethics requirements. And, just as importantly, they must keep up to date with the latest industry changes affecting their clients’ wealth.

Keeping abreast of industry developments is crucial since the time advisors invest in education translates into a healthier bottom line, but that message truly seems to have taken hold. According to our most recent AdvisorBenchmarking survey, most advisors regularly upgrade their own skills. All of the advisors participating in our survey take continuing education programs, seminars or workshops.

To make the best use of their limited time and resources, advisors are willing to pay to attend conferences focusing on practice management (51%), or receive practice management consulting (45%). Thirty-six percent of advisors surveyed would pay to receive coaching.

Embrace Professional Development for Employees

Although advisors are educating themselves, they need to pay more attention to educating their employees. Advisors may be far removed from the inner sanctum of big corporations, but they can still emulate the incentive and retention programs employed by the most successful corporations. One best practice advisors could adopt: creating a career track and professional development plan for key employees. A plan that enables employees to upgrade their knowledge base and skills-perhaps through continuing education or conferences-can be an important retention tool. Employees who see no personal growth potential, career upgrade or clear path to promotion often leave for a firm that provides such opportunities. Moreover, a valued employee who upgrades hisher skills can use those newly learned abilities to benefit your business.

According to our latest survey, fewer than one in four advisors (22%) send their employees to seminars and nearly one-third (33%) said they do nothing to help employees grow professionally. Yet each respondent noted that they regularly upgrade their own skills (See Practice Edge June, 2006).

Not surprisingly, it’s harder to sponsor continuing education courses, send employees to seminars and absorb the related expenses if you are a small firm. On the other hand, the alternative-losing your most valued employees to more competitive firms-is even more expensive.

In the end, by improving your employees’ education and offerings, you’ll be rewarded with an increased number of productive and satisfying business relationships within your practice. It creates a win-win situation for everyone, raises engagement levels and increases work output. In short, it’s an important investment in your future.