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Old Next-Gen Problems for Advisors, New ‘NexGen’ Solutions

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More conversations within the financial planning profession are centered on the now widely publicized demographics of financial advisors themselves. The impending retirement of boomer advisors has left many concerned about a potential talent shortage. How do we, as advisors, business-owners and even as a profession, ensure that financial advice remains available for those who need it? Topics such as building career paths, attracting young talent and creating sustainable businesses through succession planning now dominate most practice management conversations in the profession.

These are not new conversations.

Ten years ago, the FPA NexGen community was created partly to bring these issues to the forefront. The founders of the grassroots organization sought to create a forum for constructive conversation within the profession, to develop a peer-to-peer support network and to form meaningful mentor-protégé relationships. That core group of young planners is now over 2,000 strong and is formally a community of interest within the Financial Planning Association. This organization of planners age 36 and under endeavors to:

  • Support, advise and encourage one another in professional advancement.

  • Promote, foster and direct programs that transfer knowledge from veteran advisors to younger advisors.

  • Explore issues common to younger planners and seek means of accentuating the positives and finding resolutions for the negatives.

A wide range of experience is represented within the “age 36 and under” requirement. Members may be recent entrants to the profession and are eager to learn from peers about getting started in the profession. But NexGen membership also includes professionals with close to 15 years of experience as advisors. NexGen members include paraplanners, brokers, advisors, associate planners, operations processors, compliance professionals and business owners. NexGen members are leaders within the profession and thought leaders in the financial services industry.

NexGen members connect throughout the year in a variety of ways. Daily conversation among members occurs in the FPA Connect NexGen online community, available to NexGen members. Locally, members meet regularly, hosting study groups, speakers, and social events, often with the support of local FPA chapters. NexGen hosts its own annual conference, called NexGen Gathering, which provides a forum to discuss all the topics and trends facing the future of the profession. Gathering allows members to connect with peers, colleagues and FPA leadership in an intimate, conversational setting. NexGen members also connect at national FPA conferences. The FPA Business & Education (BE) conference in Seattle on Sept. 19-22 will include the annual NexGen Town Hall, as well as a NexGen social event, which has become tradition. The NexGen track remains on the conference agenda in 2015 and includes an exciting new session in which four NexGen speakers, selected by a vote of NexGen members, will share their perspective on burning issues for younger planners in 10 minutes or less.

Some conversations among NexGen members are common for young professionals in any field—how to be successful, tips for gaining acceptance of prior generations and earning credibility with clients. However, much of the discussion is also related to tackling advanced planning topics, initiating meaningful conversations with firm owners and managers, starting a financial planning practice or stepping into a leadership or partner role in an established firm.

The past 10 years have included significant changes in the profession. More universities are adding financial planning programs to their curriculum. Internship programs and defined career paths are more readily available. Approximately 30 local FPA chapters have NexGen events on a regular basis. Most importantly, conversations regarding the future of the profession and integrating the next generation are at the forefront.