Millennials want mentoring, expert says

Advisers have an opportunity, as long as they don't question the questions

Jun 20, 2013 @ 3:38 pm

By Liz Skinner

millenials, mentor
+ Zoom

Mentoring is crucial to high-performing millennials and advisory firms should be getting involved in helping with these relationships. But that doesn't mean crafting a formal program, according to one workplace expert.

The idea of mentoring has changed and does not only mean a face-to-face relationship with an older person, said Jeanne Meister, author of "The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow's Employees Today (HarperBusiness 2010)."

Mentoring today often takes place over the phone or via Skype and occurs whenever the person being mentored needs some feedback or other help learning the ropes at a particular institution or industry, she said.

“A lot of companies' structured mentoring programs have failed as they have tried to put structure to something that is basically a relationship,” Ms. Meister said at an Investment News/Investment Program Association Women's Forum yesterday in New York. “Mentoring and coaching is an important form of development.”

Advisory firms have found mentoring to be one of the more successful ways of encouraging the advancement of female financial advisers, teaming less experienced women advisers with seasoned women, or even men. About 8% of client-facing advisers are women, according the most recent data from Cerulli Associates Inc.

In addition to valuing mentoring, millennials seek flexibility in the workplace and want firms to help them with life skills training, including financial literacy, Ms. Meister said. In fact, financial life skills training was a priority for 23% of millennials polled for what they'd like from an employer.

Considering that half the workforce will be of millennial age by the year 2020, Ms. Meister said firms will need to adjust to appeal to this generation's best talent.

"Generational intelligence is a skill set we will all need in the future workplace," she said.

Millennials may ask some surprising questions on interviews, such as, “How long will it take to become the next CEO?” or “Do I have to wear shoes at the office?” Ms. Meister said.

She recommends that firms try to look past this type of questioning and not immediately discount these individuals as potential employees.

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