In my conversations with next-gen advisors throughout the country, many express frustration that they are stuck in an associate advisor role when their desire is to move into a full lead advisor role.
There could be a couple of reasons for this. The next-gen advisor might lack the skills to advance, or the firm could be managing its growth improperly. In this article, we are going to look at what next-gen advisors need to do to prove they are ready to move up.
New advisors should focus on the following three C’s to demonstrate their ability to operate unsupervised.
Communication. Communicating with clients and getting them to adhere to a plan is one of the most difficult aspects of financial planning. Effective communication, therefore, is essential and is one of the largest differentiators between a support and lead role. The responsibility is immense, especially under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, because you are liable as a fiduciary for whatever advice you give.
College can lay an educational foundation, but it cannot fully prepare you for real-world client interactions. It teaches you the science of financial planning, not the art. If you are a few years removed from a CFP Board-registered program, consider putting in some extra work to sharpen your communication skills. Look at professional certificates in conflict resolution/mediation and negotiation, as well as courses on psychology, counseling and family dynamics. Furthermore, study your firm’s past client correspondence to observe how certain situations were handled and what the outcomes were. If this is not available, there are many self-study business and professional communication classes available. Toastmasters could be a good option, as well.
If you aren’t receiving the mentoring you desire, request that a senior advisor listen in on your phone calls and provide feedback. Your tone, inflection and volume are all under close observation by clients.
Competency. You have to be able to answer 90% to 95% of the client’s questions. In most independent firms, you will not have a team of experts attending each client meeting with you, so you essentially have to know everything.