New advisers might have trouble finding jobs

Crisis seen as 'great learning opportunity'

Oct 5, 2008 @ 12:01 am

By Aaron Siegel

It might be more difficult to get a financial adviser job, and those who do might find themselves working as registered investment advisers, according to experts and advisers discussing the new job landscape after the recent Wall Street shakeup.

"Brokerage firms have traditionally served as a breeding ground for financial professionals," said Mark C. Tibergien, managing director of Pershing Advisor Solutions LLC in Jersey City, N.J. "The shakeup may curtail the development of new people and may lead firms to hold off on investing in recruitment and staff development for a considerable period of time, which may have an impact on the number of people that get hired."

Even before the industry's recent seismic shift, there was a move by many advisers toward the RIA model, Mr. Tibergien noted, adding that the demand for new advisers coming from RIA firms will intensify.

As the industry landscape continues to change, young advisers expect that the RIA side will prepare to welcome those from wirehouses with open arms.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see the bigger names make the switch to the registered investment adviser side," said H. Jude Boudreaux, director of financial planning at Bellingrath Wealth Management in New Orleans.

Young advisers can learn a lot from recent tumultuous events, according to David G. McMillan, a managing director and partner at Agile Advisors Inc. in Boulder, Colo., who started off his career during a rough market patch in 2000.

"We will have cycles like this in the future, and being able to capitalize on those cycles is a way that young advisers can grow," said Mr. McMillan, whose firm manages $200 million in assets.

Partnering with an older adviser and developing close client relationships are also keys to helping clients deal with tenuous markets, while learning how to manage a practice in the process, Mr. Boudreaux said.

"I think a lot of the smaller firms that have a much more intimate client relationship will be the ones that weather [the financial crisis] the best," he said. "This is a test, and I think those relationships with clients are going to be critical going through something like this."

After entering the industry seven months ago, Chris Warner, an associate financial planner at Warner Financial Inc. in Bethesda, Md., plans to chalk up the recent market events to a "great learning opportunity."

"If you come into the industry during one of the booms, it is definitely going to be a great learning experience," said Mr. Warner, whose firm manages $225 million in assets.

Chad Carlson, an adviser at Balasa Dinverno & Foltz LLC in Itasca, Ill. agrees that this month's events will go a long way to help younger advisers prove that they have been tested in some of the worst possible market conditions.

"I can use this experience through any future downturns in the market," said Mr. Carlson, whose firm manages $1.4 billion in assets.

E-mail Aaron Siegel at asiegel@investmentnews.com.

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