Teaching young advisers how to fish for new business

Dec 26, 2013 @ 7:43 am

By Jennifer Geoghegan

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Chatting the other day with a young adviser fresh out of a wirehouse, I was amused (if it wasn't so pathetic) by one of his stories about his time there. It appears that, when the time came for him to start growing his business, he was, literally, handed the wirehouse training manual from the 1980s and told to start cold calling. When he hinted that such material might, perhaps, be a little out of date, and, perhaps, not that relevant in today's world, he was chastised and told just to get on with it.

OK, this might be an extreme case, and perhaps just another example of how the wirehouses remain stuck in their antiquated ways and still haven't really evolved their teaching of how to help young advisers to grow. Whether you're at a wirehouse or an RIA, teaching talented young advisers how to bring in business is an issue that must be addressed. And one that, quite obviously, is addressed better by some, than by others!

The good news is that, when it comes to the independents, firms can actually support them as they learn to be the rainmakers of the future. It certainly won't happen overnight, but it will happen if there is a continuing commitment to change – both on the part of the firm, and the adviser.

So what are some of steps firms need to take?

1. SET NEW EXPECTATIONS

If an adviser has spent the past decade handling client service issues day in, day out, that adviser is not going just to wake up one morning and realize that now is the time to work on generating new business. The leaders of the firm need to set new expectations for, and of, the adviser. This is done by clearly articulating business development goals not only for the firm, but also for the adviser. And providing the adviser with a clear path to partnership. However, this does not mean that these goals are only discussed once a year, rather, they are tracked regularly so that the adviser knows where he or she stands.

2. INVITE ADVISERS TO THE SHOW

All too often I hear that advisers rarely see partners in action as they bring in new business. Although they might admire someone else's ability to bring in new clients, they, quite simply, have no idea how it's actually done. So, invite them to the show to see how it's done, and done well.

3. HELP THEM TO START SMALL

It is unlikely, although far from impossible, that a younger adviser will attract single handedly a new $10 million client. But it is highly likely that the same adviser can find ways to get additional assets, either from current clients or a strong client referral. Encourage advisers to take time prior to client meetings to review client life stages and career events through a new lens. And to think of ways to open up a new dialogue with those clients.

4. HELP THEM FIND THEIR OWN VOICE

Sometimes a rainmaker has such strong personal style it would look silly for someone else to try to copy it. It is, therefore, so important that advisers find the style that will work for them – time and time again. Maybe the firm has never held a social event or encouraged advisers to use social media, but these might be the perfect venues for them to shine. Expose them to new ideas via conferences. Encourage them to become active locally. Or get them training and/or a coach.

The most important thing to remember, though, is that real change has to come from within, and will not happen overnight. But it will happen with a real commitment from both firm and adviser. And, with both the right training and right support, the talented young advisers of today will also become the rainmakers of tomorrow.

Jennifer Geoghegan is Elite Advisor Coach & vice president, marketing, at Focus Financial Partners.

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