The benefits to involving new investment advisors in client meetings are many, including increased leverage of firm owners’ time and client relationship scalability, quality of life improvement, profitability, and enhanced client experience. Yet some common myths can overshadow these benefits. Here are the top five myths of integrating new advisors into client meetings so firm owners can get their new planner(s) started down the right path to success.
Myth #1: It is an inefficient use of time. Reality: A firm owners’ time is very valuable and could be worth anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per hour. A new advisor can step in and absorb some of the tasks and responsibilities to free up the owner’s time. Everyone wins this way: The firm owner can better leverage his/her time, the new advisor gains much needed and sought after client relationship skills, and the profession is served due to the transfer of knowledge.
Myth #2: Junior advisors might take some of my clients if they leave. Reality: There are legal strategies to help protect against this such as a non-compete and non-solicitation agreement, but the larger issue of an advisor leaving should be examined.
Generally, new advisors who are challenged, have the opportunity to work with clients, feel like they are compensated reasonably, feel closely aligned with the firm’s philosophies, and are in a positive culture, aren’t looking to leave. Focus on providing these elements, and departing planners will not likely be an issue at all.
Sometimes owners put more thought, time and money into the legal documents versus the new advisor’s position, opportunity for growth, training and culture, which is unfortunate and ironically increases the likelihood those documents will be necessary.
Myth #3: Junior advisors will say something that causes a loss of a client. Reality: There aren’t too many things a new advisor could say to warrant a client leaving the firm, especially if you are in the room with them. Even if they did say something that wasn’t correct or upsetting to a client, you are there to mend it and provide an example so your new advisor doesn’t repeat it. Everyone makes mistakes, and at some point one of your staff members will have a mea culpa moment with a client, which can be a learning experience, perhaps one highlighting the importance of details.
In some cases, an issue between a client and an employee could be the client’s fault and not the employee. This provides an opportunity to both rectify the situation and to stand up for the employee, which builds a deep level of loyalty, confidence and trust, further reducing the likelihood of employees leaving.
Myth #4: The client wouldn’t be comfortable with a new advisor in the meeting. Reality: In practice, this myth often is cited when the real fear is that a junior advisor will say something wrong. Client meetings are sometimes sensitive and clients can be emotional, but asking the client for permission on whether a staff member can attend a meeting is something that can be done ahead of time. The bigger question is if a client isn’t open to having someone you employ assist you on their situation, as well as learn the business, is that a client you really want to work with? If you are comfortable with having a new advisor in the meeting with you, the clients will be too.
Myth #5: Junior advisors need more experience. Reality: How do young advisors get more experience if firms will not hire those without experience? More importantly, the reality is that there is little or no experience needed to sit in a meeting and take notes and answer basic questions. Everyone has to start somewhere.
While it is possible to hire around the issue by seeking out people with more experience, it is an expensive business strategy — and often an unnecessary one.
Caleb Brown is a past chairman of FPA NextGen and partner in New Planner Recruiting LLC. He can be reached at NewPlannerRecruiting.com.