Propelled by a sense of urgency, wealth management firms are rethinking the way they train and develop young advisors—a move they hope will crimp the coming talent crisis.
“Firms are really paying attention to this. It's a big deal,” observes Steve Johnson, who heads The Next Level Sales Consulting in El Segundo, Calif. “If you don't backfill what you have, you’re going to lose a lot of clients. You’re going to lose period.”
When longtime Raymond James senior executive David Patchen was tasked with overseeing new advisor education last September, he took a hard look at the two-year training program he had helped launch just three years ago.
Merrill Lynch, too, is building out its recently revamped training program by “widening the view” beyond the local experience, according to Oden. Practice management videos of the very best advisors and trainees are in the works. Trainees will also be placed in Bank of America bank branches where they will help their Merrill team identify clients with investment needs.
In the last year, the curriculum has been tweaked to highlight client-advisor conversations that are more goal-focused and planning-based. “In the past, everything was investment-focused. It was all about alpha, beta and outperforming the benchmark,” Oden says. “Language needs to go the core of the heart: How are you doing towards retirement? How do you plan to fund your child's education? What's essential and what's aspirational?” And, beginning this year, in recognition of the importance of teams, every trainee will have the opportunity to join one.
Its Women's Advisory Network dates back to 2005 but in the last year it has become more robust with quarterly webinars and the launch this month of Chatter, an instant messaging feature that allows the firm's female advisors to engage in a virtual, private community for peer-to-peer learning and sharing.
“What we’re also trying to do is enable our female advisors to go out with our value proposition and talk to other female advisors about joining our firm,” says Halloran. “We’re working very hard to be the number one place for female advisors. I have three daughters; it's close to home.”
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