Getting Comfortable With Change
Mark Tibergien from Pershing believes that professionally managed, growth-oriented advisory businesses that have established career paths, invest in the education and development of young talent, have mentoring programs, take a team approach to client service, and value all positions--whether its revenue generating, operations or compliance--are better positioned to see their businesses survive into the next generation.

Accredited Investors Inc. in Edina, Minn., appears to be one such firm. Two-thirds of its roughly 30 employees are CFPs, and new planners are brought along in a formal career path that embraces the team approach. Its new hires tend to be in their late 20s to early 30s, and generally have at least three years of experience.

"That's because we want them client-facing sooner than later, and our client minimums are $2 million and these people want to work with people who are seasoned," says Ross Levin, the firm's founding principal and president. 

Levin acknowledges he's very different from the next generation of advisors entering the industry, and he embraces that and strives to capitalize on it.

"My generation of advisors who started businesses probably wouldn't be hired today," he says. "For example, I was very entrepreneurial, didn't take directions very well and wasn't good at following processes. Today, I'm hiring people who are very different than I am and who are much better at the things I was able to get by with while I was growing my practice.

"The next generation of financial advisors have several advantages over someone like me," he continues, "but there are some areas where they need to be trained or taught. For example, I do well at business development because I had to. But business development isn't required for the next generation of advisors, and client handholding and service is a huge requirement."

Levin believes that older advisors need to do some soul searching about their expectations for younger advisors and their place in the industry's next phase. 

"That's part of the navel-gazing our generation is doing, and sometimes we put it in the context of the things we did, and we assume the next generation can't do what we did. But that's an unfair way to think about it.

"What needs to happen is my generation should look at itself and ask what can we do to make the next generation more prepared to run these businesses differently than we did," he says. "And to accept the fact that in some ways those businesses will be better and won't be run the way we'd do things. So we need to get more comfortable with change."

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