The RIA industry is about to face a massive demographic shift, a reflection of a major societal change: baby boomers are transitioning into retirement at a rapid pace. In the new decade, financial advisors who are part of this generation will be departing the industry as well. In fact, it has been predicted that 38% of the financial advisor community will be retiring in the next decade.1

This shift is coupled with the fact that the financial services industry is experiencing a talent shortage, particularly when it comes to the next generation. According to a report by Cerulli Associates, the average advisor is 50 years old, and only 11.7% of advisors are under age 35.2

It is more important than ever for firms to cultivate and attract next-generation advisors to take the reins when current leadership leaves the helm –– and it starts with solid succession planning. Far too often, succession plans solely emphasize “the exit” — the advisors who are transitioning out of the business. But it’s just as important to devote the same amount of attention to the younger generation of financial advisors within the marketplace and at your firm. Capable next-gen advisors can help bring your practice into a new, modern and highly relevant era of financial advisory services.

So, how can firms attract and keep next-gen talent? One crucial action to prioritize is sufficient mentorship and guidance (we’ll be taking a deeper dive into this topic in a future article). Today, we’re going to answer the other important question your firm leaders should consider: How exactly does one put the right next-gen team in place?

How to Attract and Build a Next-Gen Advisory Team

The financial advisory world is experiencing a disruptive gap, which can make recruitment and team-building efforts all the more difficult. Not as many young people are getting into the financial advisory career path, which can narrow the playing field. One way to position your firm to stand out from the competition is to develop a better understanding of the next generation, much like you would with a client — that includes their characteristics, values and priorities, as well as any hesitations and fears they may have about the industry overall.

BridgeWorks, a consultancy that specializes in identifying and understanding generational dynamics in the workplace, cites that next-gen employees are “natural team players and thrive when they can collaborate.”3

Financial advisors are inherently service-oriented due to the personal nature of the conversations they have with clients and often work in cross-functional teams to meet all of their clients’ needs — a seemingly perfect match for today’s next-gen professional. The disconnect is that many firms aren’t effectively promoting the career path through that lens, and they’re not taking the initiative to learn more about incoming professionals to further pique their interest. Here are five areas that your firm can focus on to stand out and attract top talent to your next-gen team.

Clearly communicate role expectations

Your firm can help combat the stress young advisors feel when just starting out by prioritizing the importance of time management at the outset. Enlist more seasoned advisors to develop guidelines for juggling the various tasks that are assigned to newer advisors, such as note-taking for prospect and client meetings. Develop a system for delegating and spreading out more time-intensive tasks across your team, or create peer-education opportunities for advisors to train one another.

Instill a strong work-life balance

In addition to supporting the more tangible aspects of the job, putting value into work-life balance is also key. It’s easy for this profession to consume one’s life and it often requires more — both mentally and emotionally — than a typical 9-to-5 position. Recognize this and take steps to ensure your next-gen advisory team isn’t suffering from burnout (one of the key reasons why advisors choose to leave their firms). Consider providing adequate opportunities for employees to de-stress in the long term.

Look for major development milestones

In order to keep next-gen advisors engaged, start building a development plan that outlines specific milestones you want them to achieve in their role. This will help set necessary expectations and provide a “road map” of sorts for the time they spend at your firm. Make sure to align the milestones and job achievements with the firm’s overarching goals and long-term vision. If both the present and the future provide a good outlook to your next-gen team members, they will continue to see your firm as a more attractive place to work.

Be transparent

In the same way that a development road map can offer up-and-coming advisors a clear view of the firm’s expectations, it’s also important to provide them with transparency around all facets of the firm. Make sure they have a clear understanding of all team members’ duties — from the front- to the back-office — and how they play a role within the organizational framework.

It’s also crucial for you to effectively communicate your next-gen advisors’ compensation framework and how it could evolve, as well as the projected career progression involved in their position. Too many advisors make the mistake of keeping aspects of the business siloed, which could create unnecessary confusion and uncertainty around how the firm works, what is expected of the advisor, what is reasonable for the position and how all teams contribute to the future of the firm. Not only does transparency lend to an open and healthy cultural environment, it also boosts employee satisfaction and increases your chances of retaining talented advisors over the long term.

Give back to the community

Millennials are known for wanting to “make a difference” in their personal lives, and this transcends to hoping to make the world a better place professionally, too. As millennials become an increasingly larger part of the workforce as a whole, they’ll be looking for companies that also prioritize social responsibility and offer their employees the chance to do so. If your firm is actively involved in a local or national organization that gives back, be sure to highlight those activities internally and give employees the flexibility to participate from the get-go.

Outside of social causes, note how the work your advisors are doing is delivering results that aid in building up their clients’ quality of life. To put it simply, highlight the aspects of your firm that focus on helping people gain financial independence and stability to make the world a better place.

More Than a Numbers Game

Now is the time to begin introducing changes to better position your firm as a viable competitor in the next-gen talent marketplace. In this article, we’ve identified several places to start to make your firm more attractive to next-gen advisors. By focusing in these areas, you can increase the likelihood of attracting top talent and retaining that talent for the long term.


We help advisors establish and grow successful wealth management practices. To learn more about how we can help you amplify your life’s work, contact us at You can follow us on Twitter@theWAAlliance and on LinkedIn.

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1 Ed Lewis, “Shifting Demographics.” Investments & Wealth Research, Issue 1, 2019. Accessed January 2020.

2 “U.S. Advisor Metrics 2017: The Next Generation of Planning.” Cerulli Associates, 2017. Accessed January 2020.

3 “Show Me the Value: Recruiting Next Gen Financial Advisors.” BridgeWorks, April 12, 2018. Accessed January 2020.



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