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Industry Spotlight > Broker Dealers

New Resolutions for Old Challenges

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As we head into 2016, a final rule from the Department of Labor defining who is a fiduciary when giving retirement advice is finally, maybe, on the horizon and a looming talent shortage threatens to stymie advisory firm growth.

The talent shortage isn’t just hurting the old guard of advisors trying to exit the industry but struggling to find someone to take over the firm they’ve worked decades to build. It’s hurting advisors who are still working on growing their firms: who are trying to keep up with changing regulations while servicing their current clients and finding new clients to carry their firms into the future.

The good news is that the career seekers who stand to benefit from the shortage and the advisors who are trying to rise above it have the same end goal: to swell advisory firm ranks with high-quality, talented advisors who are attracted to the firm’s mission to serve clients.

Angie Herbers is a consultant to financial advisors who has spent the past several years writing in Investment Advisor and on to educate advisors, young and old, on what it takes to succeed in a career in financial services. She acknowledges the talent shortage with a blunt warning.

“This is the best time we’ve ever seen for younger planners to change jobs: from a career standpoint, it’s fabulous. For those who own firms, it’s painful, sometimes even deadly,” she wrote in the cover story for this supplement.

She provides a step-by-step guide for job seekers, those who are graduating from financial planning programs and those who are unhappy in their current firms.

She also provides a way for advisory firm owners to address those unhappy employees and attract new ones. A properly structured employee retention program is a vital part of overcoming the talent shortage.

“At this time in the industry, firm owners really don’t have a choice,” she wrote.

That other big issue, the one financial professionals and regulators have been grappling with for the last five years, is finally coming to a head: the DOL’s impending rule on who is a fiduciary under ERISA and when.

The final rule is expected to be released in the first half of this year. Even with the end in sight, there’s still plenty of ambiguity about what the final rule will mean for brokers and advisors. Washington Bureau Chief Melanie Waddell talks to industry insiders to see how those in the broker-dealer and the RIA space will be affected.

It may be that whatever the final rule looks like, no one will be happy. As Fred Reish of Drinker Biddle & Reath put it, “I don’t think it will ever be attractive, because any time the government tells a major business sector how they have to do business, it’s very expensive and disruptive.”