One of the best parts of my job over the last several years has been the opportunity to mentor college students and recent graduates who are potentially interested in joining the financial advice industry.
For financial advisors, my key takeaway from these conversations is that our industry’s success in recruiting the next generation of talent will come down to one question: How do we inspire them?
One thing I’ve noticed about today’s young people is that they want to leave a mark, striving not only to have a successful career but wanting to make a difference as well.
To make our industry more attractive, therefore, we need to go beyond “just the facts” about the advice business and do a better job of connecting on an emotional level. That approach will help them appreciate how fulfilling a career in financial services can be.
The following are some of the strategies I’ve used — most recently as part of Ladenburg Thalmann’s Link to the Future Program — to introduce our industry in a more compelling and inspiring way to young people:
1. Drop the jargon (for now) and get to the good stuff.
Experienced advisors know how important it is to minimize jargon when speaking with clients. Yet some of these same advisors seem to turn off their jargon filters when speaking with college students.
Nothing dulls a young person’s enthusiasm for our industry more quickly than being overwhelmed with a barrage of acronyms. If you want to see a set of glazed eyes, tell them a story about an IAR under a corporate registered investment advisor recommending an IRA.
In due time, prospects will, of course, need to understand what broker-dealers are, what registered investment advisors do and which securities licenses they will need. Initially, though, focus less on technical details in favor of big-picture concepts that are more likely to inspire and encourage them to enter our profession.
2. Tell stories.
People often think of a career in terms of how it could define them. Doctors, for example, are typically looked upon favorably, with many seeing them as being devoted, smart and hardworking.
Our industry sometimes isn’t viewed quite the same way. In large part, that’s because the public narrative surrounding it is often at odds with what advisors actually do.