The aging of the financial advisor population is of utmost concern to those in the business. To Robert Dugger, venture capitalist and former partner in the hedge fund Tudor Investment Corp., figuring out who’s going to fill the current crop of advisors’ shoes when they retire is nothing unique to the advisory profession.
The co-chairman of the advisory board to ReadyNation, the business leader organization working to strengthen business through better policies for children and youth, believes the advisor human capital issue is part of a larger problem that American business in general faces as a result of overall under investment in human capital.
The U.S. – and American business in particular – has not invested sufficiently in its population to be able to grow its economy and compete internationally, Dugger says.
“We have a society highly organized around business needs but businesses are blind to the human capital needs that they really face,” Dugger says. “As a result, we face a problem because we just don’t have enough ready-for-life young people who have the skills necessary to will help business compete in today’s global marketplace.”
Dugger is convinced that if businesses of every kind – financial advisors included – want to have a reliable workforce with the requisite skills, knowledge and ability to carry them forward, they need to invest consistently and systematically in the youngest members of society. Otherwise, that workforce just won’t be there, “and that means no one is going to go into the financial advisory business,” he says.
ReadyNation’s goal, he says, is to “get society to understand that investing in kids is absolutely the best business idea there is,” and to any businessperson who has doubts about that goal, Dugger asks, “Can you imagine an economy without ready-for-life young adults?”
ReadyNation is co-chaired by John Brennan, Chairman Emeritus and senior advisor of Vanguard; John Pepper, former Chairman and CEO of Procter & Gamble and Jim Zimmerman, former President and CEO of Macy’s, Inc.
Even before it officially became ReadyNation, Dugger and a growing number of concerned business owners from various sectors got together to discuss the dangers of a “failing workforce pipeline” and how to repair it by investing in youth human capital.
America’s problems are vast and widespread, Dugger says, and they include everything from broken infrastructure – roads, bridges and so on — to changing weather patterns and proper financial planning for all in order to create a more equitable society. “We need people who can solve all those problems and we need to create those people,” he says.
In gross domestic product terms, the youth human capital sector is huge, Dugger says, and it involves a host of different people, “from obstetricians to high school principals, mothers, fathers, baby clothes makers and car seat makers, to name just a few.”
Investing in the sector for the future involves everything from ensuring maternal and early childhood health and nutrition to education and specialized training.
ReadyNation’s research has shown that investing in children can increase regional per capita growth as successfully as any other economic development strategy, Dugger says, if not more, “so if the economic returns of investing in kids is that high, we need to finance it.”
Through the years, businesses both large and small have become aware of the importance of youth human capital “and we’re not going to let the country slip off the cliff,” Dugger says.
ReadyNation’s continues to educate local, state, national, and international policymakers about effective investments that will help business create their future workforce by investing in them early.
The organization has made great strides since its informal beginnings in 2003, Dugger says, and is working both across the nation and the world. Thanks to the organization’s efforts, more than 50 global business leaders signed ReadyNation’s Open Letter to the United Nations this year, asking that early childhood development be a priority in its Sustainable Development Goals Report. And leaders from eight branches of the U.S. Federal Reserve System, plus the chairman, have publicly supported early childhood investments.