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Practice Management > Building Your Business > Young Professionals

Do Younger Advisors Experience Less Job Satisfaction?

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According to the “2015 Trends in Advisor Compensation and Benefits Study” from the FPA Research and Practice Institute and Financial Advisor IQ, there is “an inverse correlation between age and job satisfaction.” In the study, younger respondents were less likely to be very satisfied with their job than older respondents. Given all the talk in our industry about succession planning, I think this statistic deserves some consideration.

The study asked why people quit. Aside from compensation, non-decision makers cite lack of satisfaction with the work environment as a primary reason for leaving a job. Now bear with me while I jump to my own conclusion based on this study: It is imperative for advisory firms to intentionally build cultures where young advisors can get engaged and thrive.

Don’t we all want to work at a place where we can get excited about going to work every day? I believe a firm’s culture is as distinct as an individual’s personality. However, there are a few elements we can all implement in our businesses to create a fulfilling work environment.

First, communicate the importance of the work you do with clients. Most financial advisors probably enter the profession with a strong desire to help people. The study found that “respondents’ strongest positive sentiment is that their firm does important work for clients.” How can our firms better communicate the work we do with clients throughout all levels of the organization?

At my firm, we regularly take time as a team to discuss that work. The stories we share range from technical planning issues to life events we are helping clients through. The work we do matters; help your staff understand how their role fits into the firm’s big picture.

My firm also makes an effort to include regular client interaction in the job description for staff on the advisor career track. Even our interns have ample opportunity to observe client meetings. Putting someone who is passionate about helping people in a back office for months or years while they wait to earn the privilege of working with clients will not help them find satisfaction in the job. Yes, the back-office work is necessary, but a periodic glimpse of working with clients will keep the passion from fading.

Another way we can all create fulfilling work environments is by focusing on personal and professional development of team members. The study results indicate that the profession is on the right track in this regard, but we can do better. Most of our team development is done informally, which is not surprising due to how young the profession is.

Do you encourage participation in industry events? My firm encourages attendance at industry conferences and has supported my desire to engage as a leader of the FPA NexGen community. Do you offer a continuing education budget that is sufficient to enable conference attendance? Do you have a mentorship program? Do you have a formal process for helping employees set individual goals? How frequently do you review performance? The team development aspect of a firm’s culture is essential. All of these components can not only enable team members to grow, but will demonstrate to them that you are committed to helping them achieve their goals.

Finally, young advisors deserve to be treated as professional adults with attainable career aspirations. I’ve written before about how important it is to allow young professionals the opportunity to demonstrate initiative. While performing the tasks of the job description is necessary, the room to go above and beyond is where true engagement happens.

In terms of compensation and benefits, decision makers probably underestimate the importance of those career aspirations. The study found alignment between decision makers and staff in four of the five most valuable benefits offered. The one area where they did not align? “Staff mention the chance to earn equity” as very valuable. I think this is often misinterpreted as an expectation of receiving equity, so read it carefully—staff want to know that earning equity is a possibility.

Perhaps by focusing on a few key areas, we can create work environments that will engage the next generation, ensuring the retention of top talent to serve our clients for years to come.