While advisors are on the front lines of client service, and industry groups and executives form the vanguard of regulatory debates, middle managers say they are facing the challenges of a graying financial industry head-on.
Mid-level management is adapting to guide aging advisors to be efficient, innovative and collaborative, said a panel of emerging leaders on Thursday at the SIFMA Private Client Conference in New York.
“How do we help advisors do more with the 168 hours they have every week?” asked Todd Hubley, a branch manager and financial advisor with Ameriprise Financial Services in New York. “We have to help them to take advantage of the tools and technology at their disposal and to spend more of their time face-to-face with their clients.”
That leaves managers with a difficult task -- motivating a core of advisors whose age averages in the mid-50s to adopt new ways of doing business and to serve younger generations of clients.
As advisors age, their book of business typically follows suit -- meaning older advisors often have to cope with clients who are deaccumulating their personal wealth in retirement, a sandbag for growth, said Nathan Crair, managing director of the West Los Angeles complex for Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.
“A senior advisor might not be motivated to grow, but I typically find that these people care a lot about their clients,” said Crair. “I start talking about the legacy that they’re trying to leave, who are these clients that you really care about, don’t you owe it to them to give them the best opportunity to continue this relationship that you’ve built?”
Hubley says that older advisors also have to be eased into using new technology and workflows.
“When we bring in something new, peer-to-peer learning is very powerful,” said Hubley. “Pick two to three people who are well-respected and higher profile and get them on board, then have them run focus groups or meetings where they can inspire others to change. It’s my role to lead it, moderate it, and not to lecture. That’s how we get folks to adopt new technology over time.”
The panelists said that it isn’t enough for older advisors to be trained and encouraged -- their firms are trying to hire younger. In Hubley’s case, the youth push has led to one of Ameriprise’s youngest offices -- at 37, he is his office’s oldest advisor.
A younger office staff creates a culture of growth, energy and enthusiasm, said Hubley, and presents mentoring and educational opportunities for older, more slowly growing advisors.