Millennials get a bad rap. Particularly in a more traditional industry like financial services, it’s hard to go a day without reading or hearing about the “lazy, self-absorbed” generation that will succeed us. As a member of the baby boom generation, I’ve certainly encountered my fair share of millennials that fit the stereotype. But I’ve also encountered some hard working, reliable millennials, two of whom I’m proud to call my successors. Not only do I feel confident and comfortable that I could leave my hard earned business in their hands if anything were to happen to me, but they are also helping me to grow and improve my business in ways that I had not predicted.
I have been fortunate to be able to acquire a few practices throughout my career as a financial advisor. My experience on the other side of the bargaining table offered me a cautionary glimpse at what retirement can look like. While my plan is to retire at 70, I began thinking seriously about my succession plan in my early 50s. One of the key reasons for that was simple: I care about my clients and I care about the business that I have worked so hard to build. Of course, a succession plan offers a sense of security for financial advisors, but it also offers some well-deserved reassurance to clients as well.
While clients rarely feel comfortable discussing it, they’re all thinking about what will happen to their money and to their plans if anything happens to their financial advisor. I’ve found that my clients are happy when I introduce them to my younger advisors. We have joint meetings that allow my clients to trust and feel comfortable with my associate planners, Valerie and Mike. A family’s finances can be incredibly personal, and feeling confident that your hard earned wealth is in good hands is crucial for clients.
For several years now, our firm has been recruiting young people right out of college. We introduce them to the work by starting them off as marketing assistants. Since the nature of our work with clients is quite private, we prefer young aspiring planners to begin their time with us in a less hands-on advice role, instead helping with administrative and marketing tasks in the office and getting a feel for our office’s culture, priorities and expectations.
This accomplishes two things. Financial planning is not for everyone. Many young people are drawn to the industry because they hear about the compensation and flexibility, but they don’t have an appreciation for the work that goes into it. We like our younger employees to really see what they are signing up for. Likewise, I like to use this time to get a sense of what type of worker this young person is. In every generation, there are people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and put in the work, and in every generation there are people who expect things handed to them. My firm’s culture is one of hard work, commitment and follow-through. I look for these qualities in all of my potential employees. Critics of the millennial generation may be surprised to know that I have found these qualities in many of the young people that come to work for me.
Once our recruits have spent time working as marketing assistants, they transition into a pseudo-paraplanner role, helping us with basic forecasting, reporting and other non-client facing tasks. Once they have completed these two roles, they have figured out whether or not they want to be in this business. Not everyone finds that financial planning is the right fit for them. At the same time, we know their work habits and can tell at this point if this person is a fit for our company.