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Advisor Retention Enhanced By Well-Built Career Paths

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The financial services industry has largely neglected attracting and developing rookie talent. The result is an aging industry that recycles talent in a zero-sum game with ever-increasing costs.

The solution has two central components: attracting and retaining talent to our industry. It’s this second part where I feel I have some insight to share.

From 2008 through the end of 2014, I hosted and moderated more than 60 executive summits for Bank Insurance and Securities Research Associates and attended dozens of industry conferences. It became clear to me in that time that the benefits to a bank program of developing a well-defined internal career path for advisors are going largely unrealized.

What are some of those often untapped benefits? To start, a defined career path can provide a clear vision for your employees of their future success. If they do a good job in their current positions, they know what comes next in terms of prestige, income and lifestyle.

A career path can be branded, complete with a special logo. Each step can be mapped to courseware and critical junctures can be pegged to mentoring programs.

The initiative should include visuals the advisors can relate to. This should anchor the opportunities in their consciousness. The impact of a well-built and promoted internal career path is so powerful that it could be the very foundation of your organization’s current business plan and future success.

Give them a destination, a sense of purpose, motivation and positive reinforcement and the entire organization will end up in a better place.

The training a new hire receives should emphasize a needs-based approach to working with clients. If they embrace this, it can lead to positive results like low customer attrition rates and the development of recurring revenue.

Consider a platform program as a career starting point for a new hire  to visualize how the internal marketing of a successful career path can help everyone involved.

If a bank has put the right elements in place, the new program rep may well take a step up and land a job as an associate advisor, working for an established advisor who becomes his  official mentor. That senior advisor can now hand off her C-clients to her new protege and focus on her higher net worth clients.

After years of successes, the protege could, of course, become the mentor for a new wave of associate advisors.

In fact, if the bank has truly taken all the right steps, then as the protege -turned-mentor considers retirement (hopefully he’s still at the bank), he’ll know that it provides a well-organized and fair succession plan. This would include an appropriate multi-year ramp-down of his share of commissions generated from his client base, and a corresponding ramp-up for another advisor who will be mentored and eventually take over.

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