Learn From Youngins: New Planners Offer Wisdom To Veteran Advisors

Learn From Youngins: New Planners Offer Wisdom To Veteran Advisors

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Older advisors often share bits of wisdom with newly minted planners. But seasoned pros might also learn something from upstarts.

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Shaped by their tech-savvy upbringing, financial planners in their 20s and 30s are eager to dish out advice to their more experienced colleagues. You just have to ask them.

These newcomers realize that they don’t know it all. As much as they welcome supportive guidance from veteran advisors, they may chafe if treated with bossy condescension.

“Mentoring young planners using encouragement and trust will breed confidence,” said Jeff Realejo, a 25-year-old certified financial planner in Pompano Beach, Fla. That’s better than telling them what to do and how to do it.

For example, asking, “Why don’t you try this?” is more effective than declaring, “You should do it this way.” Granting them the autonomy to make their own decisions — and learn their own lessons — contributes to a richer, more rewarding work environment.

If you’ve developed a well-oiled machine after decades of building a successful practice, you may figure there’s no reason to alter a winning formula. But fledgling planners may offer useful suggestions to stay one step ahead as you navigate your business into an uncertain future.

“The pace of change is rising rapidly, especially if you want to attract younger clients,” said Ashley Foster, a certified financial planner in Houston. “If you’ve been doing something for 30 years and it has been working for you, you may not want to change. But change will pass you by whether you like it or not.”

Embrace The New

An increasing number of millennial clients — born in the 1980s and early 1990s — prefer to interact online. Advisors with easy-to-access digital platforms can appeal to this demographic.

Foster, 34, would advise his elders to embrace new technology now, not later. Waiting to apply the latest tech tools “until something begins to disrupt your livelihood” is misguided, he warns.

He recommends that older advisors ask two questions when weighing an investment in technology: “How will it help me operate more efficiently?” and “How will it help provide more value to my clients?”

“Using new financial planning software instead of relying on outdated and less comprehensive software can save you time you’d spend creating spreadsheets,” Foster said. “I’d say be open-minded about changes to our industry, not just technological but also regulatory and business-model changes. Don’t look at these changes as a roadblock; look at them as an opportunity.”

Foster’s prior business partner, an advisor for 50 years, initially resisted some of these changes. But Foster gradually persuaded him to come around — and he’s now enjoying helping clients with a fresh emphasis on holistic financial planning.

To improve their daily business operation, Foster recommends that longtime advisors rethink workflow procedures and client service delivery. He cites advances in customer relationship management (CRM) platforms.

“A lot of advisors either use Microsoft Office/Outlook as a CRM or nothing at all,” he said. “It may have worked for them in the past, but today there are many customizable CRM solutions built specifically for financial planners to help them increase productivity.”

The Right Culture

Misconceptions abound about integrating cutting-edge technology. Some advisors assume the transition from aging systems to agile ones will prove long and frustrating.

“Don’t think that technology is too hard or will take too much time to learn,” said Lucas Casarez, a 31-year-old certified financial planner in Fort Collins, Colo. “This may have been the situation in the past with old legacy systems. But in the last four or five years, advances have made the technology easier” to adopt.

Embracing low-cost automation can win over both junior associates at your firm and your clients. Aside from efficiency gains, going paperless can signal to your team that the firm wants to evolve with the times.

For example, Casarez favors e-signature apps. He says that DocuSign “is so easy that clients in their 60s and 70s can use it and they like it.”

He also urges older advisors to cultivate wet-behind-the-ears planners by creating an appealing organizational culture. Providing ongoing constructive feedback on their performance and affording them ample pathways to learn and grow on the job will solidify your relationship with them.

“The younger generation is more focused on values than dollar signs,” Casarez said. “It’s the same with culture. If they feel your firm is doing the right things — reinvesting in the community through volunteerism, reinvesting in employees by sending them to conferences and helping them earn professional designations — they’re more likely to buy into the culture and stay over the long term.”

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