How can an advisory practice nurture and retain young talent?

As firms compete to attract the next generation of talent, there are a few key steps that should be prioritized.

Start with making sure senior advisers work closely with young people joining the firm. Lay out a clear career path for new employees. And help next generation talent build a viable book of business and address compensation issues clearly and candidly.

Securities America, for example, recently launched an associate adviser training program, based on recommendations from a Next Gen advisory council, which includes video training modules for young advisers that are reviewed by a senior adviser.

Junior and senior advisers were also paired in a mentoring relationship that complemented the training and provided opportunities for shadowing and knowledge transfer. Senior advisers who served as mentors say they see a higher level of confidence and engagement from the junior advisers as a result of the program.


The benefits of mentoring can flow both ways.

Having a younger adviser participate in client meetings sends a signal that it is not just a relationship with a single adviser, but with a team, that has continuity and depth. Having the support of a younger adviser can free up some time for the senior member to prospect new clients and work on further developing their own book of business.

Young advisers can be understandably anxious to get out in front of clients. Pairing them with a mentor or embedding them on a team can help provide real-world experience interacting with clients - but without the pressure that could come from going solo before they are ready.


A Future Leaders Study last year revealed that young advisers are also concerned about how they are going to be paid and want to have an idea of what the next steps on their career path are. The absence of these stabilizing factors can lead young advisers to investigate whether the grass (or compensation) is greener at another firm.

Rockwood Wealth Management, based in New Hope, Pa. and Annapolis, Md., takes the time to clearly lay out the type of career path a new employee can expect at their firm (including salary ranges). The firm believes this is very important for millennials who often have unrealistic expectations. Knowing the potential career trajectory upfront can lessen frustration on the part of the new hires, and decrease the chances that they will leave the firm.

New employees at Rockwood do mostly administrative work involving creating and editing financial plans and reports during their first two years at the firm.

Young advisers are brought into client meetings early on to help them learn rapidly and pick up on intangibles such as body language that are a critical part of client interactions. At four or five years, the individual may be offered a lead adviser role with certain clients. After about nine years, they are expected to assume business development responsibilities as a lead adviser.

Even if a career path is laid out, the initial burden of establishing a book of business can mean several years of unpredictable income. Besides starting off in a salaried position at a wirehouse, regional or independent broker-dealer, advisers also benefit from partnerships with older planners, who can be helpful in establishing a multi-generational relationship with family members in advance of anticipated wealth transfers.


Otherwise, young advisers may feel the only way to improve their compensation is to move to another firm which will pay them more.

While compensation is important, firms must realize that many young advisers are motivated by more than just their salary. Autonomy, profit-sharing, equity ownership, and education are highly regarded by millennials and need to be considered carefully by firms striving to hold onto their top young talent.

Jylanne Dunne

Jylanne Dunne

Jylanne Dunne is senior vice president of practice management & consulting at Fidelity Clearing & Custody Solutions in Boston.