Anyone worried about the “next generation” (of advisors, leaders, teachers, whatever) should talk to Amy Webber. She has so much energy and enthusiasm, we found ourselves exhausted after a simple phone call. But it’s exactly this kind of energy and enthusiasm the industry needs to bridge the succession gap, and Webber, president and COO of Cambridge Investment Research, has made it her mission.
She convened the “New Century Council” in 2009 to help identify the next generation of advisors: their wants, needs, how they communicate and what they expect, all with a goal of keeping the Fairfield, Iowa-based Cambridge “relevant for years to come.”
“It started with 12 advisors and has now grown to 23,” she explains. “They’re all in their mid-40s or younger and we speak face-to-face once a quarter. But my hope is that they are speaking with clients and generating ideas they can then shoot off to us throughout each quarter.”
What she’s found is that the younger generation of advisors, while entrepreneurial in their own way, is far more receptive to outsourcing than their older counterparts.
Another passion of Webber’s is the women’s forum she’s spearheaded, the second of which will take place in Denver in July.
“It’s really a way to understand the differences in the way men and women communicate and the way in which each likes to be served,” she notes.
That’s great—but who doesn’t have some sort of women’s conference, women’s educational platform, women’s retreat? What makes this special?
“We differentiate ourselves in that ours is not at the exclusion of men,” Webber says. “I believe in order to be successful you have to include both genders. Not all female clients want female advisors and not all male clients want male advisors.”
The genesis for the program, she said, came out of the growing awareness (or at least acknowledgment) three or four years ago of the low number of women advisors.
“There were two camps; one wanted a female community of like-minded individuals to explore relevant issues specific to women and women advisors,” she adds. “The second group was composed of women who have been in this business so long it’s almost uncomfortable to point to the fact that we’re women that have come up in the business. We thought, ‘Why not get these two groups together?’”
Other recent “wins” Webber points to include a recent internship program developed by the firm to place students with advisors in the hopes of furthering the issue of succession planning.