I was lucky enough to know by age 20 that personal financial planning was the right path for me. I worked part time at several independent firms while going to college and ultimately landed with a large, well respected RIA in the metro Detroit area.
However, it became clear that there simply wasn’t a long-term career path for me at the firm.
Fortunately, I joined the Center for Financial Planning, an independent wealth management firm in Southfield, Michigan, in 2013. I jumped right into attending meetings with several partners at the firm, handling meeting preparation and follow-up, as well as digging into analysis for clients.
I never once expected clients to be handed to me that early on; however, it was the best way to learn the job by doing the hard work. The Center gave me that opportunity and now, seven years later at age 34, I’m managing nearly 100 client relationships that were transitioned to me by other planners.
After witnessing many other transitions throughout my nearly 15-year career, I’ve outlined five tips and considerations for both junior and and senior advisors on how to facilitate a successful client transition:
1) Older/more experienced advisors should seek out ways to ‘talk up’ younger, successor advisors.
Nothing does more for a young advisor’s confidence than hearing a seasoned veteran sing their praises. For example, during a joint meeting, the senior advisor states: “Jessie is going to be covering several tax planning considerations in our meeting today. She has spent a great deal of time analyzing the new Secure Act and is our firm’s resident expert on this topic.”
2) Younger advisors must develop credibility early on in the relationship.
Young advisors have to prove they know what they are talking about before anyone will trust them, especially when there might be a significant age gap between them and the client.
Bonding through mutual life experience and social interests probably won’t work for a 25-30 year old advisor who is being transitioned to work with a couple in their 60s.
It takes some work. In the first two years of working at The Center, I wrote nearly 50 blog posts. I wanted to make sure clients were seeing my name in newsletters as an author and I was always trying to seek out opportunities to send clients an article I had written on a particular topic that came up in a meeting.
Over the last three years, I’ve spoken for roughly 15-20 minutes at our annual client event, typically on a tax law change that impacts the planning work we do for clients.
Stepping outside of my comfort zone to do public speaking has been a massive confidence booster, and has helped to further my credibility with clients of the firm.
3) Take whatever you think is great service and make it twice as good.