What You Need to Know
- The most effective way to ensure the loyalty of younger colleagues is to demonstrate how much the firm cares about them and their careers.
- Effective training programs are built around personal and professional development, exceptional service and managing expectations.
- If an associate advisor doesn’t understand the big picture, they’re likely to be less effective as part of a cohesive whole.
The future of every advisory firm rests on its ability to retain talent. And the most effective way to ensure the loyalty of younger colleagues is to demonstrate the extent to which the firm cares about them and their careers.
One of the most impactful ways to do this is by creating an in-house training program to transition associate advisors into senior advisors. Building a path and a process to advancement can not only instill loyalty but also develop productive advisors who ultimately will help your firm grow.
Effective training programs are built around four elements: personal development, professional development, exceptional service and managing expectations. How the training is imparted is as important as the subject matter itself.
It needs to be consistent and ongoing — a senior advisor can’t compress all their technical and client communication knowledge into a few cram sessions and expect others to absorb it. People grasp information as we need it to perform our jobs. If information appears irrelevant or useful only in the distant future, it will not be retained, and the trainer ultimately will be disappointed.
Teaching paradigms are important, too. Many senior advisors see associate advisors in a student role. That’s somewhat true — they’re learning as they go. But the professor-student model isn’t the right one in a business setting.
Instead, your job is to be helpful — and equally professional — to your junior colleague. They already have professional accomplishments and development, and your job is to help them build on that foundation. Let’s look at the four areas to focus on in a training program:
1. Personal Development
This refers to transitioning trainees to a more independent lifestyle. Client service associates without professional education and licensing generally serve in a supporting role. But young advisors who have a pertinent educational background and licenses are professionals. Thus, they have a different code of conduct. For example, it’s their responsibility to show up quickly when a client needs help, and to take care of their own personal and professional needs independently to be able to help others.
The industry has a propensity to take young associate advisors and make them nurses, as it were, before they can be doctors. Even if they already have their CFP, they’re made to slog through years of support work before they can talk with clients. That’s a good way to create dissatisfaction, whereas treating these colleagues as professionals — like young doctors in residency — is a key component to keeping them.
Another result of personal development training should be the team member building relationships with colleagues of diverse backgrounds. They should develop resiliency through the achievements and setbacks of being in the business. On a related note, personal development includes the ability to identify and manage exhaustion, isolation and anxiety, and to create a space that promotes well-being.
2. Professional Development
This includes understanding the elements of financial planning and investment management, and where the advisor fits in the client-experience continuum. If an associate advisor doesn’t understand the big picture, they’re likely to be less effective as part of a cohesive whole.
Another element of professional development is narrowing one’s focus to the most effective practices. New associate advisors often want to do a bit of everything related to serving clients, but a good advisor training model can show them how to narrow their focus to the areas that need their attention most.