The future of the financial advisory industry rests with today’s millennials who will be both advisors and clients.

“Millennials are what’s next,” according to a new report from Hartford Funds. “Advisory firms that hope to thrive and grow in the decades to come will need to take measures to make their practice more engaging for this next generation.”

With that in mind, Hartford Funds, which regularly surveys advisors, convened a roundtable of young advisors, most in their early to mid-30s, to discuss what advisory firms need to do now to attract more young advisors. That discussion is the basis of the firm’s latest report.

“The average age of advisors now is 58 or 59,” says Bill McManus, director of strategic markets at Hartford Funds and author of the new report. “When you couple that with the transfer of wealth that you’re going to see over the next 30 years of some $30 trillion that creates a vacuum for the next generation of advisors.”

Here are the report’s major recommendations, which advisory firms may want to keep in mind when recruiting younger advisors:

1. Millennials Don’t Like to Be Called Millennials

Although they have displaced boomers as the single largest demographic cohort in the U.S., millennials are not monolithic, and those in their early to mid-30s don’t necessarily want to be lumped in with 20-somethings who are more likely to still live at home with their parents and have little work experience.

“When asked what comes to mind when they hear the term ‘millennial,’ roundtable participants agreed that they did not think of themselves as members of that generation,” according  to the Hartford report.

Given that sentiment, the study says “it is essential that financial advisory firms take deliberate measures to identify top-tier millennial talent and treat them as such, as opposed to viewing them as part of a group that is often stigmatized in the workplace, news media and beyond.”

Create a Mentorship Program

2. When Recruiting, Stress the Mission of the Firm and Industry

It’s important to go beyond the numbers side of financial advice,” according to the report. “Stress the mission, vision and purpose behind the firm, demonstrating that you’re dedicated to clients and are prepared to counsel them in times of crisis, in times of fortune and at all times in between.”

McManus explains further: “The challenge to recruiting is the perception that the industry is old, stuffy and male,” says McManus. “Firms to need to change that perception …. and explain what it is that a financial advisor does.”

Moreover, “firms should focus on planning,” said McManus. “Be concerned not just about money but lifestyle planning, retirement planning and helping to navigate longevity.”

3. Create Mentorship Programs

Younger advisors want mentorship programs where they partner with a senior advisor to learn the business, and they want to work as part of a team that includes coaching and a “hands-on” approach to get the experience they need, according to the report.

For example, said McManus, when preparing for a meeting with clients, a younger advisor wants to know beforehand what role he or she will play in the meeting and what role the more experienced advisor will play, plus who will be following up with the client.

 (Related on ThinkAdvisor: 7 Ways Advisors Can Add Clients, Stay Relevant)

For continuity purposes, one participant suggested that firms regularly pair an older, more experienced advisor with a younger advisor for every account so that the client knows the younger advisor and will remain with the firm if and when the older advisor retires.

Firms should also keep in mind that mentoring isn’t necessarily a one-way exchange. Younger advisors can teach veteran advisors about technology and efficiencies, says McManus. “Given that millennials were raised with technology … having them on staff could make it easier for firms to transition, stay relevant and not get left behind when new trends become more common,” according to the report.

And most important, younger advisors can help attract younger, millennial clients. “Advisory firms should actively source ideas from millennial advisors for effective techniques to attract and connect with the next generation of investors,” according to the report.  

Institute a Career Track

4. Institute a Career Track

This is a “big topic” for millennial advisors, says McManus. Millennial advisors want firms “to have a clear pathway with expectations and guidelines” for them to reach senior positions.

“It will not be enough to make the empty promise that anyone can become a partner – the next generation of leaders needs to know how,” according to the report.

Younger advisors want to know the steps, actions and milestones necessary to become partners and they want feedback from their firms about their progress. “If a firm does not do that, they risk losing advisors – and potentially their book of business as well,” according to the report.

5. Be Flexible

Millennials may not be monolithic in their approach to work, but this generation that has grown up with the internet is used to “flexibility and adaptability in their lifestyles,” according to the report.

Many prefer flexible work schedules, relaxed dress codes and a greater reliance on technologies. “Firm leaders who want to make sure their business outlives their current leadership may want to consider adopting some of these practices or finding ways to adopt their culture and expectations to make room for the mindset of the new generation,” according to the report.

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