Baby boomer financial advisors are getting close to retirement age. This is a problem, since many of them are also often the most valuable players at the firms they work at, controlling the biggest chunk of client assets. Yet, according to various surveys and scuttlebutt at industry conferences, a majority of firms still don’t have succession plans in place for these aging professionals.
Global management consulting firm Accenture recently explored this problem in a recent report, looking at how an advisor’s retirement affects his or her clients and firms left behind.
The bond an advisor has with his client is often so personal that it can disrupt his clients’ lives when he moves on. And that increases the risk of the clients leaving the firm. Accenture posits in its report (called Advisor Succession Planning) that firms can start addressing succession challenges with some simple and pragmatic strategies. One is to have candid discussions with advisors nearing retirement age to understand their options and goals for their client books. A firm can also present its aging advisors with retirement options that meet their goals in a way that still benefits the firm and its clients.
The industry as a whole faces another problem, the dearth of young people under the age of 40—and especially under 30. That means advisory firms might want to make themselves more attractive to younger advisors. Accenture offers a few key recommendations in this area.
One is to focus the client relationship model on teams, so that a firm can forge multiple relationships between the firm and its clients and give the next generation of its advisors a chance to forge stronger ties with them. Branding also helps, since a strategy that differentiates the firm from the competition can boost client loyalty beyond just the one relationship to the entire firm.