Graying of America means opportunity for young advisers

Advisory business has range of models and roles to fill

Nov 8, 2013 @ 1:24 pm

By Trevor Hunnicutt

America is a graying society, but for the wealth management industry, that could mean opportunity for young advisers.

“The demographics in our industry and in our society are at an inflection point,” said Devin DeStefano, an executive at Wells Fargo Advisors, the third largest U.S. brokerage. “It's clear that we need help.”

(IMCA chair on handling the challenge of attracting Millennials to financial advice)

Mr. DeStefano was among several panelists who discussed the reasons college graduates and people changing their careers might consider becoming a financial adviser at the InvestmentNews NextGen Virtual Career Fair .

Jeff Vivacqua, first vice president of business strategy at Cambridge Investment Research, said the financial advice industry spans a diverse range of business models and job roles. It is important for people considering careers in this area to determine whether their personality type is a fit for a particular role and organization. The only way to know that is to do research, Mr. Vivacqua said.

Jylanne Dunne, senior vice president at Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services, said that because the advisory business is so client-focused, it often demands that its professionals have people skills. “You have to be someone who can diagnose problems pretty well and gently provide solutions,” she said.

Young entrants can distinguish themselves when applying for jobs in several ways. For one, advisers are looking to develop a communications strategy for the current century — using such tools as social media — and next-generation advisers can help them move in that direction, according to Ms. Dunne. “We know that the younger clients do not want to communicate the same way the baby boomers did,” she said.

Ms. Dunne also said that advisory firms “would love someone who could come in and start looking at the profile of their young clients or their baby boomer clients' children and think about what services they could offer to those clients to deepen those relationships.”

The need for advisers is starting to change the way large firms train employees, according to Mr. DeStefano, who leads next generation adviser strategy for the financial services group at Wells Fargo Advisors.

“Historically at the wirehouse level, it was really grab as many people as you can and see who's going to stick around long enough,” said Mr. DeStefano.

Whether for career-changers or college graduates, Mr. DeStefano said the most important key to success for potential advisers is patience and finding a successful mentor.

“Being excellent takes time,” he said.

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