Nearly two-thirds of RIAs say being an advisor is their second or third career.

A Schwab Advisor Services RIA talent study examined the characteristics of the profession and the paths the advisors had taken. The 571 advisors surveyed shared four different views on the RIA industry: becoming an RIA, being an RIA, career management and recruiting.

Ninety-three percent said that an important benefit was improving the financial well-being of their clients, according to a statement.

 “The RIA business is highly relationship-oriented with a strong focus on doing the right thing for clients,” Neesha Hathi, Schwab Advisor Services senior vice president, said in a statement. “Our study results indicate that independent advisors indeed value the attributes that have become the industry’s hallmarks. It’s also encouraging to see younger advisors being drawn to the profession for many of the same reasons as well as by the tremendous growth opportunities present in the RIA industry.”

Becoming an RIA

Thirty-two percent of advisors surveyed said they heard about this career from a friend or colleague – 43% identified that it was their second career and 21% said it was their third. This demonstrates the diversity among advisors – the previous career paths offer different experiences.

More than 50% of the advisors said they looked at other investment-related firms such as wirehouses and brokerage firms before they choose their current RIA firm – this is precisely what 35% of advisors under 40 did. Twenty-six percent of advisors ages 40- 50 and 11% over 60 also did so.

Both men and women – 55% and 48% respectively – held positions at other financial services firms. However, women were more likely to work at another RIA firm, and they often held previous positions in operations or administration. Men on the other hand, mainly worked in sales and trading.

Being an RIA

Why go the independent route? One of the most important considerations was work-life balance, according to 47% of people surveyed. RIAs under 40 were particularly attracted to the ability to contribute to a firm’s growth and the potential ability for career advancement.

A strong work ethic, building and nurturing relationships, and the ability to develop their client’s portfolio and their own business were the most important skills for success in the RIA field, respondents said.

Forty-six percent of female survey respondents called out building client relationships as an important skill, whereas only 33% of men said the same. However, 16% of men did find networking an important part of success, compared with 8% of women.

Career Management and Recruiting

A recent Schwab RIA Benchmarking Study found the best firms to attract and retain talented advisors are the ones that offer additional compensation and support to individual advisors.  In this survey, only 10% of advisors reported having access to formal in-house training. This could prove to be an issue for many firms because 50% of new hires in 2013 left one RIA firm join another, according to Nick Georgis, vice president at Schwab Advisor Services.

Many firms need to have better practices for retaining their advisors — 60% of advisors were found through some sort of networking, and only 32% cultivated talent from within.

“For today’s independent advisors, identifying, attracting and cultivating diverse talent who understands and values relationships is a strategic business imperative,” Hathi said. “By understanding the career paths of advisors as well as the aspects of the profession that draw new talent to it, RIA firms can better prepare for and capture the many opportunities ahead.”

Check out 3 Ways to Attract and Retain Talented Advisors on ThinkAdvisor.