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Financial Planning > UHNW Client Services > Family Office News

Who Will Be the HNW Advisors of the Future?

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What will it take to become a great advisor to wealthy families in the future?

According to Family Office Exchange’s managing director David Toth, three areas are shaping what the advisor of the future will look like: how talent is sourced and developed, influence of technology and services that will be offered.

In the past, advisors serving wealthy families were drawn mainly from financial or investment firms, law firms and accounting firms. The new generation of talent may come from a wider array of backgrounds.

Toth notes that members of FOX — a peer-to-peer network for ultra-wealthy families and their family offices — are looking for advisors outside the financial industry, including hospitality and social service, and are increasingly recruiting from college campuses.

A FOX white paper, citing Labor Department data, showed that a labor generation gap has appeared because not enough Gen X workers are replacing retiring baby boomers. While the proportion of baby boomers in the workforce will fall to 22% in 2020 from 37% in 2015, Gen Xers’ numbers will remain virtually unchanged at 20%. Millennials will comprise 58% of the labor force, up from 42%.

Many family offices have established their own development programs in response to the talent shortage, recognizing that they may not be recruiting the level of experience that they had in the past, according to Toth. An increasing number also want to train people into the client experience that they want to provide.

Toth writes that more and more advisor firms are investing in technology to advance the client and employee experience.

Whereas the advisor of the recent past used technology as a separate utility, advisors of the future have the tools and inclination to use it in real time to help themselves and their clients. “This potentially leads to a much more frictionless way of sharing information,” he writes.

In the ultra-wealth space, clients are not having to choose between a person and a machine; robo-advisors are not replacing advisors. According to Toth, there is an evolving role where people and technology work more closely.

Toth writes that as wealthy families’ investment preferences shift to more passive vehicles, alternatives and direct investing, investment advisors’ investment skills will need to evolve. High-net-worth clients’ demand for “strategic services,” including planning, advice and education, will require advisors to comfortably navigate several disciplines.

As well, advisors will have to become increasingly comfortable asking more questions of clients and not driving to a solution too soon.

So, what are forward-thinking firms doing about attracting and developing the advisors of the future?

Toth writes that some FOX advisor members are using their firm’s culture, including their values, as a means of attracting new talent. Millennial recruits are keenly focused on how a firm achieves its success.

In a shift away from past practices, advisor firms are building teams, not just outstanding individuals. Horizontal moves to different groups can be easier for advisors who have acquired team skills. They also provide an opportunity to gain more expertise.

According to Toth, leading advisor firms FOX has surveyed are seeking to harmonize advisors and technology as they work toward a superior client and employee experience.

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