Age sometimes begets hubris, a state of exaggerated self-confidence based on the belief that one has seen it all. As the abridged quote from Proverbs says, “Pride goeth before a fall.”
While history and experience help in evaluating our circumstances, neither can effectively predict what the future may bring. Those who make their driving decisions while looking in the rear view mirror find this fact challenging.
Pause for a moment to think about what has changed in financial services in the last 20 years: a massive shift away from large employer-based financial services companies to independent business models; 15% fewer financial advisors than there were in 2008; an increasing propensity to serve clients by charging fees versus commissions; interest rates holding near zero for a very long time; and the average age of financial professionals creeping closer to what our parents considered the retirement threshold. Add to these factors the threat of consolidation, robo-advice and over-regulation. The list of changes goes on and on. There is no denying that our industry is navigating to a place unseen by the most wizened veterans.
Accumulated wisdom helps us process facts, but the circumstances of our current world may require the hopeful view of youth rather than the jaundiced perspective of experience. Over the next 10 years, we will see more clients and staff born after 1985, an increased use of technology to interact with others and to manage our firms, and further transparency in how we conduct our business due to regulation and access.
The optimal management strategy considers multiple points of view. Successful business plans are not one-dimensional. We have an opportunity to tap into the insight that younger employees can provide based on the way in which they live, work and consume information.
One way in which we at Pershing have begun to elicit new perspectives is with our reverse mentoring program, wherein we pair millennial employees with members of our executive committee. While the idea of reverse mentoring has been around for years, the application of the concept to our company was developed by my partner Gerry Tamburro and two of his millennial employees in Pershing Prime Services, Kayla Flaten and Jamilynn Cimino.
Kayla was my reverse mentor for the past two years, and now I have a new mentor, Ian Keller, who not only works in a different part of the company, just as Kayla does, but lives in a different state. This situation reflects a new reality in which associates frequently work remotely from each other and must find effective ways to communicate.