Patrick Sullivan is the chief of staff at Private Advisor Group. In this role, he supports the CEO in forming and communicating strategy and ensures staff is best supported to deliver on firm objectives. 

Russ Alan Prince: What strategies and initiatives can financial firms implement to effectively recruit and attract young talent, especially in an industry traditionally focused on experience?

Patrick Sullivan: While experience is valuable, leading firms are recognizing the importance of fostering a new generation of talent equipped for the challenges of tomorrow. This goes beyond simply hiring young people; it's about embracing a culture that values continuous learning, fresh perspectives, and the opportunity to make a meaningful difference.

Young talent today expects more from a job than just compensation. Even in beginner roles, the best talent in the industry searches for fulfillment from their work and for opportunities to grow from the outset. Firms that are successful at both drawing in and keeping talent make clear how each team member’s contributions have an impact, whether it’s to the client’s or the firm’s success. Discussing future career paths, without overpromising, during the hiring process can also help attract talent and align expectations.

At Private Advisor Group, we place high value on technical proficiency, interpersonal skills and a forward-thinking mentality. We understand that young talent isn't just a box to check, they're an investment in the future. We’re highly transparent about this and set high expectations for all roles. By striking a balance between company goals and individual aspirations, we foster a dynamic environment where both seasoned team members and new hires can flourish.

Prince: How can mentorship programs be structured to maximize the benefits for both seasoned advisors and next-generation advisors, fostering a collaborative learning environment?

Sullivan: Since mentorship programs are a two-way street, Private Advisor Group encourages our advisor community to implement the following steps to ensure success:

• Integrate next-gen advisors into client meetings and strategy discussions: Bring younger advisors into client and team meetings, and solicit feedback on firm initiatives. It creates invaluable learning experiences and exposure. This has added benefit of opening the door for seamless leadership transitions or successions.     

• Specialization and depth: Encourage next-gen advisors to specialize in a specific area, allowing them to have deep knowledge and confidence in that area. This is not only a great way to build their expertise but also empowers them to take ownership of client interactions, gradually expanding their scope and responsibilities.

• Structured progression: Approach mentorship as a journey, setting uprising stars for long-term success throughout their career. Even if they don't always work directly with their mentor, maintaining regular communication, being a resource, and offering guidance can help shape their career trajectory.

Constant communication and guidance: Ensure ongoing communication between mentors and mentees, discussing pre-and-post meeting strategies, sharing insights on client relationships, and providing continuous guidance. This helps maintain a dynamic mentorship dynamic and fosters a supportive learning environment.

Prince: What practical steps can next-generation advisors employ to overcome age bias and build trust and credibility with clients and colleagues?

Sullivan: It is crucial to leverage your age as an advantage, particularly when you find yourself as the youngest individual in the room—a perspective I've gained from firsthand experience within the next-gen segment.

Being a younger advisor can be of unique value to clients, as you are able to commit to supporting them in the long run. With the high concentration of advisors approaching retirement age, having 30 years of runway left in your career is a compelling story for clients. Having a young advisor on staff too not only showcases the firm's multi-generational approach but also emphasizes continuity and stability in client relationships, instilling confidence, and trust among clients.

Prince: In light of the evolving communication landscape, what innovative communication and technology strategies are successful advisors using?

Sullivan: Effective communication is a cornerstone of any high functioning business. This extends not only to client interactions but also internal collaboration among advisor teams. In today’s technology marketplace, there’s often so many options that there is more than one right answer for what solves your needs. Rather than overly analyzing options, successful advisors embrace trying what’s available themselves and don’t shy away from pivoting from one technology solution to another.

The post-Covid era has underscored the value of digital connectivity in all industries and has changed both clients’ and employees’ openness to connecting digitally. Advisors have embraced technology-driven solutions, from virtual team meetings, all to way to becoming a 100% virtual practice. Advisors also connect with each other digitally now more than ever. Peer groups don’t need to be local to a geography, and connecting our advisors digitally is an area Private Advisor Group is investing in.

Ultimately, as the communication landscape continues to evolve, the ability to adapt to and incorporate new technologies is becoming increasingly vital for maintaining competitive advantage. Advisors who effectively integrate these tools into their practices not only enhance client communication and service but also position themselves at the forefront of the industry’s digital transformation.

Russ Alan Prince is a strategist for family offices and the ultra-wealthy. He has co-authored 70 books in the field, including Making Smart Decisions: How Ultra-Wealthy Families Get Superior Wealth Planning Results.