Aaron Schaben, EVP, Carson Group Aaron Schaben, EVP, Carson Group

Ron Carson has found his “apparent successor” for the Carson Group in Aaron Schaben, who was recently named executive vice president.

Schaben, 32, has been at Carson Group for more than five years and assumed the role of EVP in 2018 after serving as managing partner for Carson Group.

“He is executive VP because his nickname around the office is ‘Baby Einstein’ he is one of the smartest, most driven people I know,” Carson told ThinkAdvisor. “And the reason he got that elevation to executive VP is because he is the apparent successor at some point in the future.”

While Carson, who is the founder and CEO of the Carson Group, admits he’s “not going anywhere,” he’s also very clear that this is the succession plan.

“[Schaben's] got some things and growth to happen,” he added. “The organization knows that this intermediate step was made for him to prove that he’s capable of running the entire firm.”

Carson calls Schaben his “right-hand confidante,” and the two meet weekly along with Teri Shepherd, chief operating officer at Carson Group, to discuss strategy.

“[Schaben] is probably the most capable person I’ve ever met,” Carson explained. “I’d put him up against anybody in our profession, as far as getting not only where we’re at today but where the profession’s moving. I don’t care how many years they’ve been around. He gets it. I’ve never witnessed someone that gets business and gets the state of the profession.”

As a millennial although he personally eschews that term Schaben provides a fresh perspective on the wealth management industry.

During a visit to ThinkAdvisor’s office with Carson, Schaben shared his views on one of the most common discussions within the industry: How to attract millennials, or the next generation, as clients.

Schaben thinks the majority of advisors and firms are approaching this question “absolutely wrong.”

“The majority of the time, it’s a bunch of old guys sitting around a table saying, ‘How do we get more millennials as clients?’” Schaben explained. “[They think] ‘well, now we need to go to our existing client base and go get their kids.’”

Schaben says that’s the wrong way to look at this.

According to Schaben, if a firm is truly focused on adding an age group or demographic, it needs to create the firm that looks like that first.

“If all you do is say, ‘our goal is now to attract the next gen client’ and you haven’t added anyone that’s [next gen] to your firm, good luck,” Schaben told ThinkAdvisor. “Because the next generation? They don’t want that.”

Schaben’s other piece of advice is that the next generation and the current generation truly want the same thing. So, according to Schaben, firms should be asking “what’s the next gen of the client experience?” Rather than “what does the next gen want?”

Schaben gives the example of Facebook. In college, millennials joined Facebook in droves, and now all their parents and grandparents are on Facebook.

The Carson Group also saw something similar when meeting with its advisory councils recently. The firm asked its millennial advisory council and its traditional advisory council the same question “what type of client experience do you want?” 18 months apart.

In the first meeting, the millennial group said they wanted “what they want, when they want it, in a proactive way with a dedicated point of contact,” according to Schaben.

Meanwhile, Schaben added, the traditional group said nothing “earth-shattering” in that first meeting. However, when asked the same question 18 months later, this group’s answer mirrored the millennials’ earlier response.

“It’s not a ‘let’s attract millennials,’” Schaben said. “It’s how do we serve clients with a next gen client experience. Anytime you’re going to say ‘millennial,’ I would say ‘next gen client experience.’”

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