Independent RIA route is good way to join the business

No cakewalk, though, as effort needed to find the right fit

Nov 9, 2012 @ 2:15 pm

By Dan Jamieson

The independent RIA channel offers attractive opportunities for young people looking to get into the business, but new entrants need to be prepared to put in some effort to find the right fit.

“Keep in mind that the typical advisory firm has five to 25 employees — they're small businesses, so it's critical you fit into the culture,” Mike Riley, senior manager for institutional sales at TD Ameritrade Institutional, said today during the InvestmentNews NextGen Virtual Career Fair session on the RIA channel.

“Do your due diligence, see [RIA firms'] websites and their social media presence,” Mr. Riley said. “The crux of the issue, which we hear all the time, is that [advisers] cannot find suitable candidates ... or are not a good cultural fit.”

Attractive job candidates should be able to relate to people beyond just finances and numbers, and have the emotional intelligence to empathize with clients and facilitate decision making, the panelists said.

For help with developing career-related personal skills, Mr. Riley recommended the career section at Mindtools.com. Kim Dellarocca, director and head of practice management at Pershing LLC, suggested the Generational Insights website for tips on how young advisers can effectively work with older bosses and clients.

Some firms do training

Co-moderator Deena Katz, associate professor of personal financial planning at Texas Tech University, noted that new graduates often run up against the preference of independent advisory firms for experienced people.

Some firms will train new people, said Rudy Bethea, chief business development officer at NestWise LLC, an LPL Financial LLC subsidiary that is targeting younger investors.

“We're one of them,” he said.

“There are plenty of advisers out there willing to invest the time” to train new hires, Mr. Bethea said. “You need to be persistent, and find someone who will put in the time and is willing to help you.”

Mr. Riley said new entrants should look for firms with internship programs.

Despite the difficulty of finding a job at a small, entrepreneurial advisory firm, the financial advice industry is seen as a promising career.

“Clients want to know that, regardless of what product they buy, advisers have their best interests in mind,” Mr. Bethea said. “That's what makes this RIA channel so attractive.”

Estimates are that 237,000 new advisers will be needed over the next decade to meet growing demand from retirees and to replace retiring advisers, Ms. Dellarocca said.

And unlike other service jobs that are can be outsourced overseas, personal financial advice won't be offshored, she added.

“Here is an industry you can count on to create new jobs,” Ms. Dellarocca said.

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