With a wave of advisor retirements expected to occur over the next decade, the question of how to find and empower the next generation of successful advisors is top-of-mind for industry leaders.

Unfortunately, approaches to recruiting and training this next generation have been slow to evolve. Many firms and recruiters have approached this challenge as if finding some combination of magic words can coax talented young professionals into our business and help them succeed—without actually changing the ways in which they engage and develop younger prospective advisors.

Leaning on decades-old recruiting and training methods to empower the next wave of great advisors is like asking a Ferrari to achieve peak performance on a dirt road. In order to identify the next generation and help them succeed, firms and experienced advisors need to build them a workable track.

A survey we conducted among Securities America’s 30 most successful under-40 advisors revealed four key steps in accomplishing this:

1) Identify advisors with the right combination of personal traits and work to accentuate those characteristics. Our survey found that the most successful rising advisors share six key characteristics: entrepreneurial drive; putting clients first; persistence; discipline; inquisitiveness and adaptability. Many of these characteristics cannot be taught, but prospective advisors who demonstrate these traits have the strongest chance for success.

Since it can be difficult to gauge through a questionnaire or interview if an aspiring advisor is strong in any of these areas, firms should pay close attention to other indicators. For example, a prospective advisor with deep-rooted entrepreneurial drive will not only put in long hours, but will often create and stick with a realistic budget that reflects the sacrifices they will need to make in the early years of their career.

Once next-gen advisors who demonstrate these traits have been identified, firms should provide programs to strengthen the younger advisors’ positive traits by, for example, rotating them among mentors who exemplify certain characteristics and skill sets.

2) Overcome the ‘credibility gap’ through CFP training. Nearly every young advisor, no matter how talented or hardworking, will eventually run into a common problem: successful investors—who have a level of assets that could help the advisor build a substantial business—are typically hesitant to work with young, untested advisors.

Bridging this credibility gap must be a top priority for firms that hope to cultivate a community of successful younger advisors.

One key practice that can help aspiring advisory professionals surmount this hurdle is becoming a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER (CFP) professional as early as possible. The CFP requirements are equal parts challenging and time-consuming, but our survey revealed that the skills and powerful reputation this certification provides can equate to 4-5 years of hands-on industry experience. It also enabled our survey respondents to win clients who otherwise may not have considered engaging a younger advisor.

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