In an industry where growing numbers of both practitioners and their clients are eligible for AARP membership, if not Social Security benefits, it’s very clear that advisor firms need to replenish advisor head count and need to engage with younger investors to pick up the slack when their older, existing clients move on to the next realm.

Cerulli Associates addressed both of these issues in a recent report focused on some of the challenges facing the financial advisor profession. In its report, the Boston-based research firm examined how independent channels recruit, train and groom new advisors. That’s no small matter, considering that roughly one-quarter of all advisors plan to retire within 10 years.

Given the limited size and infrastructure at most independent firms, they tend to hire on an as-needed basis. For many of them, that often comes when a firm attains $75 million to $100 million in assets, a level which Cerulli deems an inflection point when the size of the client base becomes unwieldy and service can suffer as a result. At that point in a firm’s life, hiring a junior advisor or two to handle back-end chores or to help service smaller clients can free up the senior advisors to focus on wealthier clients and expand the business.

Ideally, junior advisors are provided a structured career path that starts on the operations side assisting experienced advisors. As their industry knowledge and relationship skills grow, they can gradually ease into paraplanner or investment analyst roles, followed by more active roles during client meetings and more hands-on work with the firm’s smaller clients. If all goes well, junior advisors can assume more responsibilities with a firm’s midsize clients and eventually pitch in on the business development side.

Hiring, training and cultivating young advisors could also be the key to attracting younger-generation investors. Gen X and Gen Y investors—particularly the latter—generally don’t have enough assets to be profitable for many advisor practices. Yet baby boomers, the bread and butter clients at many firms, won’t be around forever, and younger folks will eventually acquire more wealth. Now is the time for advisor firms to start prospecting for younger, smaller clients who can grow into larger clients over time.

And that’s where having younger advisors on staff can come in handy. Younger investors want to engage with advisors differently than their parents do, Cerulli notes. And younger advisors are more likely to engage with clients differently than senior advisors do—by using social media and technology, for instance. “They may better connect with investors who are in their same age bracket, improving their ability to navigate the relationship dynamics unique to younger generations,” Cerulli wrote. “While many in this cohort may gravitate toward digital providers and direct solutions, proactively engaging with them validates the benefits of an advisory relationship.”