Industry Spotlight > RIAs

What Do the Big Firms Want in an Advisor?

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I’d like to deviate a bit from my journey and talk about a rarely discussed topic. Your opinion on the matter would be particularly interesting, either to validate my own or render it void. Here’s my supposition.

When a large financial services company hires client-facing individuals, do they want great technicians or great salespeople (not that these are mutually exclusive but the combination of the two is rare)? Do they want people who are independent thinkers? Are they looking for people who are willing to explore new frontiers and create new and innovative ways of doing things? Or are they seeking people who will blindly follow company policy without so much as a question?

As many of you know, I came out of a very large organization. At that particular company there was an expression often spoken. People would joke about drinking the company Kool-Aid. The underlying message was that after a while people would begin to blindly follow company policy and surrender their own independence. When you work in a large organization you must either adapt to their way of doing things or fight the uphill battle to bring about change. Actually, there is very little you can do to materially change things unless you are in a position such as CEO, president, etc. Even then, I imagine the political roadblocks can be formidable.

Let’s get back to my initial premise. What kind of people are large companies looking for?

It’s been my experience that some of the most successful brokers are also the best salesmen. They are good story tellers, masters in the art of persuasion, and skilled in leading prospects down the primrose path. However, when it comes to understanding the more technical aspects of our business, they are intellectually challenged. I suspect as long as they don’t pose a great liability to the company there is little motivation to change things.

Think about how this model would work in the medical profession. Would you trust your heath to a doctor who didn’t have sufficient technical knowledge? I think the answer to this is obvious, yet that’s exactly what many are doing with their financial lives.

I believe this presents an opportunity for the independent advisor. What do you think?

Thanks for reading.