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Practice Management > Building Your Business > Leadership

Next-Gen or Now-Gen?

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While there are criteria for who can join the classes of Schwab’s Executive Leadership program, youth alone is not one of them. The two members of the program’s inaugural class interviewed for this article are younger than the average advisor, but they’re not recent college graduates. Yonhee Gordon joined JMG Financial at the age of 21 and has spent the past 29 years there in a variety of roles, currently as COO (and a principal of the firm). Adam Larson of Savant Capital Management has been with the RIA firm for seven years. A CFA, Larson is also COO of his firm.

That kind of experience fits in well with Schwab’s criteria for entrance into the program, said program director Rick Schwartz. “They don’t have to be principals of the firm,” Schwartz said, “but they have to be viewed by the Brents and Maritas of the world [Brodeski and Sullivan, CEOs of Savant and JMG] as the future of the firm.”

So Who Gets Into the Program?

The Schwab Executive Leadership program was launched last year, with a second class in 2015. In 2014, 32 “students” from RIA firms completed the program, and Schwartz said he expects all 34 in the current class to complete the program.

Nominees must be presented by RIA firms’ principals—Schwab calls them “nominating principals”—who must also commit to mentoring the nominees throughout the program. Schwartz said that “there are criteria as to the size of the firm we bring in,” but more important than size are the types of nominees and the kind of firm. “The people have to have some management experience—whether it’s supervising one or multiple people,” Schwartz said, and they have to be viewed by their firms’ principals “as the future of the firm.”

Schwartz said that size-wise, there is a “breadth of participants last year and this year,” ranging from smaller firms with $500 million in assets under management to “multi-billion dollar firms.” Staffing at participant firms range from 10 employees to one with 200 employees this year, he said. What all the firms have in common is an expressed desire to grow their firms, in addition to growing the next generation of leaders for those firms, Schwartz said.


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