In this issue, senior editor Eric Rasmussen embarked on an investigation to find 10 outstanding young financial advisors in the profession. What he discovered was something many advisors, though fewer leaders in the business, already knew.

Though this business faces the challenge of attracting enough advisors to replace the existing generation, there is no shortage of talent entering the business. To the contrary, the quality of the young people entering the profession today is as high as it has ever been in the view of those who know them.

Most of the first generation of financial advisors either came out of the brokerage or insurance industries or they were individuals seeking second careers. The current generation is the first group, with precious few exceptions, who went to college and decided in their early 20s that delivering financial advice was what they wanted to do. Their stories, as Eric tells them, are as varied as the young individuals portrayed in the cover story.
In some ways, they are audacious, yet in other ways they are cautious. That seems contradictory, but it isn’t if one steps back and looks at the world from their perspective.

After all, their parents and especially grandparents were organization men and women, many of whom learned in midcareer that their organizations didn’t reciprocate loyalty. Older millennials and Gen X types grew up watching wave after wave of corporate downsizing, even before the financial crisis and the tech bubble. The upshot is they don’t need their elders to explain the importance of financial security to them.

When it comes to this next generation of advisors, only the first few chapters have been written, so there is no telling how the story ends. To be sure, movies like The Wolf Of Wall Street have turned off many talented potential advisors to the entire financial services industry.

What might be more surprising is the experience of several young advisors our staff has spoken with who have left robo advisors. The evidence is only anecdotal, but some young advisors who have worked in these start-ups report that the personnel burnout rate is almost as high as the burn rate of capital.

Equally telling is that when one examines each round of capital raising at these firms, the VC players who invest in the first round rarely come back for the second, and those in the second round rarely come back for the third. It doesn’t mean there won’t be survivors, but the smart money is betting that robo advisors will end up like online bankers, part of the service offering but not the whole enchilada.

Evan Simonoff
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